Rocky Mount native Dr. Ben E. Fountain Jr., a former president of the N.C. Community College System, was the keynote speaker at a 50th anniversary celebration hosted in Walnut Creek Country Club near Goldsboro on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Dr. Deborah Lamm, president of Edgecombe Community College, and ECC Foundation Board President Jean M. Bailey were among the leaders from eastern North Carolina.
Dr. Reid Parrott and Dr. Frank Eagles, past presidents of Nash Community College and Wilson Community College, also attended this first of three regional banquets.
Former Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr., and current NCCCS President Dr. Scott Rawls also had follow-up comments, as did a student achievement award recipient and an AT&T event sponsor.
Fountain recounted not only his time as state president from 1971-1978, but also the entire span since the junior colleges and the early industrial education centers funded in the late 1950s.
He gave particular credit to the Omnibus Higher Education Act in 1963 pushed by Governor Terry Sanford and State Board of Education Chair Dallas Herring.
Fountain was a graduate of Rocky Mount High School and The University of North Carolina. He served as principal of Bassett Elementary School in 1955-56, and then as superintendent of public schools in Elizabeth City before going to Lenoir Community College as president.
In 1971 Fountain left Lenoir to become the second leader of the NCCCS, following Dr. I.E. Ready as state director of the Department of Community Colleges. Ready, a former principal of Rocky Mount High School, had led the state system from its inception in 1963.