By Brandi Underwood
Dr. L. Marshall Washington was inaugurated as the third president of New River Community and Technical College Saturday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Glitter still glistened on the convention center’s floor from the previous night’s event, and appropriately so, as Saturday’s inauguration was a celebration marking a new era of leadership for NRCTC, as well as a chance to look back on the past.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, NRCTC has grown much in the last decade, and has hopes to grow tenfold in the next under Washington’s administration. As a blend of the college’s past, current and future endeavors, the inauguration’s theme was “Reflecting, Embracing, Celebrating.”
Washington joined New River as president on March 25, leaving his past role as vice president and CEO of Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania, Lancaster Campus, where he was responsible for developing and establishing campus planning strategies resulting in a facility master plan, improving the campus scholarship campaign, leading a successful accreditation process for two occupational programs and spearheading efforts to increase outreach to the county’s growing Latino community.
David Nalker, president of the New River Community and Technical College Board of Governors, said the board selected Washington for his intelligence, foresight, dedication, humanity and humility.
“The challenge of leading a multi-campus institution with time and budget cuts, rising costs and a changing educational landscape is not for the faint of heart. However, I’m confident Dr. Washington is the right man to lead New River to a very bright future and I thank him for accepting the challenge,” said Nalker.
“While previously talking with Dr. Washington, I could see that he has a commitment and a passion to serve people that goes beyond education. He is truly dedicated to providing necessary resources to all of those in need,” said Delegate Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin III and U.S. Rep Nick Rahall could not attend the event, but sent remarks to be read aloud by representatives.
Princeton Mayor Patricia Wilson and Summersville Mayor Robert Shafer both presented Washington with keys to their cities during the ceremony to symbolize the cities’ appreciation and open doors for Washington’s future plans.
Washington said that the support he felt at the ceremony was humbling and reassuring, and he hopes to use it to build mutually beneficial relationships with the state and its communities.
“Sometimes it takes someone to look at things differently,” he said.
Washington said that his connection to the area is what drives his passion to improve NRCTC. His great-grandparents settled in the area a long time ago, and his grandfather worked as a coal miner in the state for 30 years.
“I know they had hopes and dreams for their children, and I know that some were realized in me, but I think that more can be realized through helping others, too,” he said.
Also on stage to greet Washington during the ceremony were Justin Rader, student representative to the NRCTC Board of Governors; Nathan England, vice president of the NRCTC Faculty Senate; Robert Runion, chair of the NRCTC Classified Staff Council; Dr. Kyle Fort, chair of the Greenbrier Valley Foundation Advisory Board; and West Virginia Community and Technical College System Chancellor James Skidmore.
Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, professor of voice at the University of Illinois, sang several songs during the ceremony, including “You Raise Me Up” and “The Prayer,” accompanied by Dr. John Mark Walkup, professor of music at NRCTC.
“I see that we have the potential to make a significant impact in southern West Virginia,” Washington said.
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