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A-B Tech commencement set for May 11 at U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville

The following is a press release from A-B Tech Community College

A-B Tech Community College will award 1,143 degrees and diplomas to graduates during its Commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11, in the U.S. Cellular Center. A-B Tech President Dennis King, who is retiring in January 2020, will preside over the ceremony and deliver the keynote address. 

A-B Tech also will award a posthumous degree to Riley C. Howell, who attended A-B Tech from 2016-18 before transferring to UNC Charlotte last year. Howell earned enough credits and had the grades necessary to receive an Associate of Applied Sciences degree in General Occupational Technology. 

“The entire A-B Tech family was extremely saddened by the loss of Riley Howell in the shooting at UNC Charlotte on April 30, but all who knew him were not surprised that he was a hero in this tragedy,” King said. “We are grateful that we can honor him at our Commencement with his degree.” 

A total of 1,473 degrees, diplomas, and certificates were earned by A-B Tech students during the 2018-2019 academic year. Credentials are being awarded in the following general areas:

University Transfer: 501 (This total includes 66 high school seniors who will earn an A-B Tech degree the same year they receive high school diplomas.)
Health Care: 282
Skilled Trades: 252
Business/Marketing/Accounting: 101
First Responders: 85
Brewing, Culinary, Hospitality: 83 
Computer Technologies: 72
Human Services Technology: 33
Cosmetology: 31
Aviation: 18
Early Childhood Education: 15

Outstanding graduates from these program areas are being featured throughout the week on the College’s website and social media platforms. 

A-B Tech also will present outstanding faculty and staff awards during the commencement ceremony. They include: Dr. Jason Fair, last year’s A-B Tech Staff member of the Year and the current statewide Staff Member of the Year for the N.C. Community College System; Marlene Frisbee, Faculty Member of the Year; Brian Newsom, Adjunct Faculty Member of the Year; Adam Woody, Continuing Education Instructor of the Year; and Laurie Manley, Staff Member of the Year.

King, who is A-B Tech’s sixth president, announced his retirement last week, effective January 31, 2020. He was appointed to the position in August 2014 after a competitive search and a six-month stint as interim president. King joined the College in 1992 as Vice President for Student Services and held that position for 20 years. He was appointed Special Assistant to the President for Reaccreditation in 2012 and oversaw the College’s successful 10-year reaccreditation with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC). 

During his tenure with A-B Tech, King received several awards and honors, including N.C. Community College Student Personnel Professional of the Year in 2000, A-B Tech Administrator of the Year in 1998, and N.C. Community College Institute for Future Presidents in 1998. King also serves on the SACSCOC Board of Trustees, the Blue Ridge Public Radio Board of Directors, and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Coalition.

A native of Franklin, N.H., King received a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, a master’s in teaching from Jacksonville University, and a doctorate in education from the University of Florida. He served in the U.S. Army from 1968-72, achieving the rank of Company Commander and earning a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in 1972.  He is married to Jan Clarson King and has two sons and two grandchildren.

About A-B Tech

Founded in 1959 in the heart of Asheville, A-B Tech is the largest higher education institution in Western North Carolina, serving approximately 25,000 students a year in Buncombe and Madison counties. A-B Tech offers more than 120 degrees, diplomas and certificates, as well as a wide range of workforce training and continuing education programs. Now celebrating its 60th year, A-B Tech includes the main Asheville campus, A-B Tech Enka (home of the A-B Tech Small Business Center and Business Incubation Program, Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast and N.C. BioNetwork), A-B Tech Madison, A-B Tech South, A-B Tech Woodfin and the Goodwill Center in West Asheville. Learn more at


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