Reception honors retiring ECC chief

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John Brooks, and his wife Motsie Brooks, left, talk to Dr. Deborah Lamm, president of Edgecombe Community Colllege, on Tuesday during her retirement reception at the Thomas S. Fleming Building at Edgecombe Community College.


Special to the Telegram

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

TARBORO — About 200 people — a mixture of colleagues, faculty, students, elected officials, business leaders and friends — gathered Tuesday afternoon to offer Dr. Deborah Lamm a grand send-off as she prepares to retire May 31 as president of Edgecombe Community College

After 14 years of growing, cultivating and strengthening ECC into an educational stalwart in the Twin Counties, Lamm says she’s ready to step down and enjoy a more relaxed schedule each day.

Lamm said her favorite memory at ECC was seeing the auditorium filled with graduates at all the commencement exercises.

“Seeing 1,200 people fill our Keihin auditorium with excited graduates along with their family members is a memory I'll never forget,” she said. “Enthusiasm permeates the event, with a better future looming around the corner for graduates.”

Lamm always spoke to each graduate as they crossed the stage.

“Speaking to each graduate as he or she walked across the stage was an opportunity I didn't take lightly,” she said.

Like most North Carolina community colleges, Lamm said her biggest challenge was always working within an inadequate budget.

“The state budget in recent years has been tight, and we're unable to fully fund some programs,” she said. “Sometimes meeting the needs of programs and personnel is a balancing act. “

Lamm said adhering to the old adage, “do more with less," led her to be as innovative as possible, expanding partnerships and resources where feasible.

Many who spoke in Lamm’s honor at the reception mentioned her ability to think outside the box and find new resources.

ECC Board of Trustees President Dr. Jerry Price thinks Lamm has established a lasting legacy for Edgecombe County in the way she built partnerships with area businesses and other schools to ensure the college could offer the best and most needed educational and training programs to lead to the betterment of the community.

“She has done so much, not just for this school, but to better all of Edgecombe County. Deborah has really raised the bar for education here in Edgecombe County and even the state,” Price said.

Jean Bailey, chairwoman of the Edgecombe Community College Foundation Board, said it is a bittersweet day for ECC.

“While Deborah deserves to be able to retire and enjoy life, she has done so much for us at ECC and for the whole county. She was a really great leader and I’m sad to see her go,” Bailey said.

Bailey said she thinks Lamm’s biggest accomplishment was developing, building and opening the Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center on the Rocky Mount campus in October 2014. The facility houses 18 programs of study in health sciences, including curriculum and continuing education programs. More than 1,200 students use the center annually.

A the end of the reception, Price announced that the ECC Board of Trustees issued a resolution renaming the Biotechnology building the Dr. Deborah L. Lamm Building.

Price said Lamm conferred with ECC’s outgoing president, Dr. Hartwell Fuller, prior to officially taking over as ECC president to discuss his idea for a health sciences building on the Rocky Mount campus.

"From day one, Dr. Lamm worked tirelessly to identify funding sources, to secure important partnerships and to lead discussions and plans to build a health education center like no other in Eastern North Carolina,” Price said.

Price said there’s no way to count all the students and families whose lives have been changed by the educational and training advances Lamm has been able to offer in the past 14 years at ECC.

“She has really put us on the right path forward,” he added.

While there was no talk of the search for Lamm’s replacement at the reception, Lamm said she’ll advise the next president to know that  the impact of the college is great and the power to improve the quality of life for local residents is real.

“My greatest hope is that ECC will continue to work with Edgecombe County to break the cycle of poverty through education and job obtainment,” she said.