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home : news : news May 22, 2019

3/28/2019 2:09:00 PM
Gaston College President Announces Plans To Retire
Dr. Patricia Skinner to step down in 2020
Gaston College President Dr. Patricia Skinner is seen here at her desk at the college’s Dallas Campus. She will step down from her position next year.(Photo Courtesy Larry Ziegler)
Gaston College President Dr. Patricia
Skinner is seen here at her desk at the
college’s Dallas Campus. She will step
down from her position next year.

(Photo Courtesy Larry Ziegler)

Lincoln Herald Staff

DALLAS, N.C. - Gaston College President Dr. Patricia Skinner is stepping down.

That’s the word this week from college spokeswoman Linda Vespa. Skinner announced her plans to retire a year from this month. The announcement marks a milestone in her half-century career in higher education in Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina. In August, she will have served as president of Gaston College for 25 years. She is the first woman and fourth president to lead the two-year community college that serves Gaston and Lincoln counties.

Skinner recently looked back on more than 50 years of a positive educational impact, shaping the futures of countless lives.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as president of Gaston College,” she said. “I came at a time when the college was poised for growth and expansion. This college has become an integral part of Gaston and Lincoln counties, and I am grateful for the tremendous support the college has received over the years from our many talented students, dedicated faculty and staff, community, county and statewide partners, members of our foundation and textile technology boards and the college’s board of trustees. Together, we have built an institution focused on quality education and student success, and I am proud that we have become one of the top community colleges of the 58 in North Carolina.”

Trustees board chairman Dr. Jim Watson extolled Skinner’s leadership.

“We reluctantly accept her decision,” he said, “and are forever grateful for all she’s done for the college and will continue to do in this next year. Thanks to Dr. Skinner’s vision and leadership, the college has experienced unprecedented growth since she became president more than 24 years ago. She and her dedicated team of faculty and staff have prepared this institution to serve the students, businesses and industries in our counties for many years to come. On behalf of the board of trustees, we are grateful to Dr. Skinner for her commitment to our students, our great college and the citizens of Gaston and Lincoln counties and the state.”

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Watson has worked with Skinner since he joined the board of trustees, 11 years ago. He has been its chairman for the past three years. He will be instrumental in leading the search process to find a successor to Skinner. Watson indicated that information regarding the search would be announced at a later time.

During her presidency, Skinner has always been committed to student success and excellence. Some of her major accomplishments include:

  • focusing on the quality of the learning environment for students through the expansion of program opportunities and new and renovated facilities;
  • obtaining financial support from the community, state and federal government through donations and grants;
  • hiring and retaining the best-qualified faculty and staffers, committed to student success and developing creative and innovative programs and services;
  • supporting businesses and industries through customized training, apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities; Gaston College is second statewide in customized training funds for new and expanding industries;
  • rewarding evidence of quality through specialized voluntary accreditations and student success through student completions, graduations and such awards as the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, which the college’s students have earned;
  • cultivating closer partnerships with the school systems of Gaston and Lincoln counties, through dual-enrollment programs and the establishment of the Gaston Early College High School; 
  • and earning national and state recognitions for excellence for its faculty and staffers, as well as the school becoming an “Achieving the Dream” Leader College and receiving the prestigious Bellwether Legacy Awards. 

Leading the way for major growth
Since becoming president in August of 1994, Skinner has led Gaston College through significant growth.

When she started, the college was comprised of only its main campus in Dallas. But it has since added the W. Duke Kimbrell Campus and Textile Technology Center in Belmont and its Lincoln Campus in Lincolnton. During her tenure, the college has expanded its instructional and administrative space from 371,294 to 793,264 square feet with the addition of 11 buildings. The newest, the Gaston College Veterinary Medical Technology Facility, is scheduled to open on the Dallas Campus in 2020. 

In 1965, Gaston College’s first class to be graduated had just six students. The first class of graduates during Skinner’s tenure had 347 students. In 2018, the college had its highest number of graduates: 1,455 students.

Gaston College is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. During Skinner’s presidency, the college expanded to more than 170 programs of study, 60 degrees, 26 diplomas and 87 certificates. Besides the college’s regional accreditation, 12 programs of study have received specific program-level national accreditation.

Skinner has a doctorate in higher education administration from Ohio State University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees and a specialist of arts degree from Western Michigan University. Her career began in the classroom as an instructor of business, office administration and management at colleges and universities in Michigan, Massachusetts and Ohio.

Before coming to North Carolina, Skinner was an administrator for the Ohio Board of Regents. She served as vice president of academic and student affairs at Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio.

She has served on many professional boards in various capacities, including as president of the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents and chairman of the Charlotte-Area Education Consortium, Gaston Together and the N.C. Student Success Center Advisory Board.

She is also the recipient of numerous distinguished awards, including the N.C. Student Success Center Champion Award; the Gastonia Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow Award; the Distinguished Partners in Excellence Award, given by the N.C. Community College System; the Wells Fargo President of the Year Award, also given by the N.C. Community College System; the Wisdom of Solomon Award, given by Temple Emanuel in Gastonia; the Southern Regional CEO of the Year Award, given by the Association of Community College Trustees; the Women’s Heritage Award, given by the Community Spirit USA, International Ministries; the Woman of the Year Award, given by the Gaston County Women’s Commission; and the Athena Award, given by Citizens South Bank and the Gaston Chamber of Commerce. Skinner is also a member of the Gaston County Hall of Fame for Women in Business and a recipient of the Women Administrators in North Carolina Higher Education Leadership Award.

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