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Godwin officially installed at PHCC
Speakers praise vision, energy
Dr. Glenn DuBois (left), chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, inaugurates Dr. Angeline Godwin as president of Patrick Henry Community College at a program Friday at PHCC. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) President Angeline Godwin is living proof that obtaining a college education helps someone become successful in life, according to former Gov. Gerald Baliles.
Godwin, who has led PHCC for nearly two years, was formally inaugurated as the college’s third president during a ceremony Friday afternoon in the Stone Hall gym. Students, faculty and staff members, state officials, local business leaders and area lawmakers were among the hundreds of people who attended.
Speakers said Godwin already is having a positive influence on the college.
Baliles, the keynote speaker, noted that Godwin was the first person in her family to earn a college degree. She now has six, he emphasized, including a law degree, a doctorate, two master’s degrees, a bachelor’s degree and an associate degree from a community college in Mississippi.
That is impressive, according to Brian Luckett, a member of PHCC’s Class of 2012 who spoke on behalf of alumni.
For the college to have a leader with so many credentials is “truly exciting,” said Luckett, who now attends the University of Virginia (U.Va.).
Godwin’s associate degree is “may be the most important,” Baliles said, because in terms of her success, it was “the one that started it all.”
It is proof, he added, that area residents “can start here at Patrick Henry” and accomplish things “just as big” as Godwin has achieved.
Before coming to PHCC, Godwin led family-owned businesses in Mississippi and worked in innovation-based economic development programs. She also has been president of a Kentucky community college and dean of arts and sciences for a community college in Tennessee, her biography shows.
Baliles and other speakers said they think Godwin is the right person at the right time to lead PHCC as it works to boost the area’s economy by helping people become better educated and skilled so they can get decent jobs.
She understands the link between education and jobs, according to Baliles, who was governor from 1986 until 1990. The Patrick County native now is director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at U.Va. However, he recently announced plans to retire from that post.
The more educated and skilled residents are, the more likely the area is to attract companies that will create jobs, economic developers have said.
Godwin already has made “a positive impact” by forging partnerships with community leaders, promoting entrepreneurship and fighting for the needs of students, said Bronte Miller, PHCC’s associate professor of developmental math.
Brenell Thomas, the college’s workforce programs coordinator, said Godwin has strengthened partnerships with local businesses and industries, the New College Institute (NCI), public schools, the chamber of commerce and other organizations, as well as formed ties with local, state and federal officials.
She has inspired college employees to “roll up our sleeves and work harder for our students,” Thomas said.
Eddie White, chairman of PHCC’s board, recalled that when Godwin was interviewed for the presidency, it was apparent that she had “done her homework” about the college and the area.
For instance, he said, she already was “familiar with the unique challenges and resources” of the region and talked extensively about the need for the college to cooperate with businesses and get to know their needs.
Baliles cited Godwin’s involvement in developing a partnership between PHCC and NCI to train people for technology-based manufacturing jobs.
He predicted that the partnership will be “a key element of this region’s (economic) recovery.”
PHCC is the nation’s first community college, he said, to develop a program in “innovation engineering,” which provides people with “skills to turn innovation from a random and risky event into a reliable system.”
Baliles also noted Godwin’s involvement with the Patrick County Education Foundation, which has spawned the Rural Horseshoe Initiative that is striving to raise the education levels of residents in a large swath of rural Virginia.
In addition, he said, PHCC has made college courses free for dually-enrolled high school students, which helps families better afford college and “makes higher education part of the plan (for young people) early on.”
Godwin “hasn’t been on the job long,” Baliles said, “but through her actions already, we can see the power of education to change lives ... and to change regions.”
Baliles has “been a mentor to me, a confidant and a true friend” since she came to PHCC, Godwin said.
She called him “a true statesman of the highest order ... who has never forgotten where he comes from.”
Virginia Community College System Chancellor Glenn DuBois also had high praise for Godwin.
“I’ve canceled Angeline’s evaluation next month,” he said. “She’s passed with flying colors.”
Godwin is “a go-getter” with boundless energy and “a fountain of creative ideas,” and she likes the public to be involved with PHCC, DuBois said.
She knows “a community college is at its best when it’s a place where the community can gather” and help determine the future, he said.
Godwin called DuBois “a visionary leader” who, in working with community college officials statewide, “backs us up” in trying to accomplish ideas and programs they believe will benefit students.
Other keys to Godwin’s success, speakers said, are her devotion to her job, willingness to help people and friendly, down-to-earth personality.
She “puts her heart into her work” and genuinely wants every student to succeed, said Lucas Prillaman, who spoke on behalf of the student body.
Godwin has “a complex, compelling personality,” Baliles said. She is “full of energy and humor and ... embodies commitment and determination.”
Miller described Godwin as “a steel magnolia,” a Southern description of a woman who can be sensitive or tough, depending on what is necessary for particular occasions.
With Godwin “at our bow, we are set for an amazing future,” said Gary Collins, chairman of the PHCC Foundation, the college’s private fundraising arm.
Collins predicted that under her leadership, PHCC eventually will be recognized as one of America’s top community colleges.
During the inauguration, Joyce Staples, an associate professor of English at the college, read a poem, “The Educator and the Gardener,” which she wrote in commemoration of the event.
The poem likens how an educator helps a student grow in knowledge to how a gardener, working alongside nature, helps plants grow.
Hearing it “touched my very soul,” Godwin said.
Staples presented a framed copy of the poem to Godwin.
In Virginia, inaugurations of college presidents usually occur at least a year after they assume their jobs to give them time to get to know their schools and the communities they serve, PHCC officials have said.
Godwin succeeded Max Wingett, who retired in 2012 after serving as PHCC’s president for 34 years.
Sherman Dutton, the college’s founding president, served in that post from 1962 to 1978.