FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Edgecombe Community College (ECC) is celebrating the legacy of Dr. W. Dallas Herring, “father” of the state’s community college system, this week.
ECC has unveiled a portrait of the late Herring that was commissioned as part of the system's 50th anniversary celebration.
Herring may best be remembered for his belief that education should be available to all and that community colleges should “..take people from where they are, as far as they can go.”
“Dr. Dallas Herring is probably the person I quote most frequently because he was such a visionary," says ECC President, Dr. Deborah Lamm. “I first met him at his home in 2001, when I was working at Southeastern Community College prior to joining Edgecombe. We sat in his library, which was filled from floor to ceiling with documents and books, and we talked about adult education and the need for all people to have opportunities to learn and grow. Our community college system would not be among the premier systems in the nation if not for Dr. Herring.”
Herring was the keynote speaker at ECC's fall semester kickoff in August 2006, sharing stories of his childhood and anecdotes surrounding the establishment of the community college system. Herring died less than five months later on Jan. 5, 2007, at the age of 90.
Herring was appointed by Gov. Luther Hodges to chair the State Board of Education, serving from 1955 until 1977. While serving on the State Board, Herring was asked by Hodges to develop a plan for industrial education.
He developed a plan, and in 1957, the General Assembly adopted the plan and initiated a statewide system of industrial education centers. In 1963, those centers served as the foundation for community colleges statewide.
“Dallas Herring was a visionary who understood that education could be a defining factor in a person's life,” says Dr. Scott Ralls, president of the N.C. Community College System. “His legacy has brought us to where we are today - one of the most comprehensive community college systems in the nation, educating people of all ages, training the state's workforce and providing college transfer opportunities.”