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Deborah Lamm will leave big shoes to fill at Edgecombe Community College when she retires from her post as president this May. For the past 14 years, Lamm has steered the college through budget difficulties to meet the needs of the local community. Almost a quarter of Edgecombe County’s population lives in poverty. That creates unique challenges — not just for the college, but also for its students, who may face difficulties with things like finding transportation to class.

“We are expected to have state-of-the-art programming, state-of-the-art equipment and facilities,” Lamm said. “But we’re really not receiving the funding from the General Assembly to do that.”

She addressed those challenges by securing grants and donations to supplement state and county dollars. She created the EDGE Scholarship program, which funds qualifying students for three years of education.

Under her leadership the college opened its study abroad program. And when students can’t afford clothes for a job interview or even a hot meal after class, donation-funded services are there to help.

ECC is perhaps best known for its health science programs. Students practice on dummy patients in interactive simulations where they can safely learn from their mistakes. When those students are ready, they can get real clinical experience before graduation thanks to the college’s partnerships with North Carolina doctors.

The college has big plans for the future. A new center for innovation on the Tarboro campus will focus on advanced manufacturing. It will support the college’s goal of changing the way Millennials think about trade jobs. Also on the horizon is a training center at the new Kingsboro Megasite, which was made possible by a $10 million grant from Triangle Tire.

Lamm’s retirement marks the end of 39 years with the state’s community college system. We think it’s safe to say that she left it better than she found it.

 

Robert Kinlaw

As EducationNC’s director of multimedia, Robert Kinlaw focuses on telling stories with video, photos, and sound.