Forsyth Tech has grown tremendously under Dr. Green’s leadership having a positive impact on the lives of countless individuals and the community. His legacy will continue for years to come.
On December 31, 2018, Dr. Gary Green, President Of Forsyth Technical Community College , retired after 17 Years at the helm. He is the longest serving president In the history of the college.
Dr. Green is the sixth president of the college since its inception in 1960, succeeding Desna Wallin, who retired in 2001. Dr. Green began his community college career at Elizabethtown Community College in Kentucky in 1976. What was intended to be a brief teaching stint became a lifelong career, fueled by Dr. Green’s passion for student success. Talking with Dr. Green, you quickly realize that his career as an educator and helping students succeed is a true calling for him.
From the Beginning
In the summer of 2001, Dr. Green was drawn to Forsyth Tech for several reasons, but
two in particular made his decision. First, he knew the North Carolina Community College System was recognized as one of the best community college systems in the nation.
He was also inspired by the positive attitude toward collaboration of institutions, organizations, and businesses working together for the economic growth of the community. Dr. Green said his arrival at Forsyth Tech reinforced his commitment to community college education.
The year he started, Winston-Salem was undergoing a time of traumatic economic change with the decline of industries like apparel, textiles, tobacco, and furniture in addition to the merger of Wachovia and First Union.
“When I began at Forsyth Tech, we saw the need for careers in the workforce, and found opportunities within the community for strategic partners in health sciences, biotech, nanotech, and information technology. The College immediately launched on a journey of growth and expansion. What drove me then were the opportunities within these partnerships,” said Dr. Green.
Working with the innovators of Piedmont Triad Research Park, Dr. Green collaborated with Bill Dean; Steve Mizel, Ph.D.; Dr. James Smith; and Dr. Richard Dean, who were instrumental in launching the research park, which eventually became Innovation Quarter.
Through Dr. Green’s vision, The Department of Labor-sponsored National Center for Biotechnology Workforce opened in 2005, which established Forsyth Tech on a national scale as it became involved with bio- and nanotechnology. The College also developed the first nanotechnology associate degree program in N.C.
“Opportunities for us to serve the needs of business and industry were coming together to educate students not only for today but also for jobs of the future,” Dr. Green shared. “In addition, we became more fully integrated into the effort to attract new industries and provide needed skilled workers.”
He cited the development of partnerships with other colleges and industries that remain in place today such as Reynolds American, Inc., Deere-Hitachi, Grass America, Siemens, Progress Rail (formerly Caterpillar), and Goodwill International as proud accomplishments.
Hosted Two Sitting U.S. Presidents
During Dr. Green’s tenure, Forsyth Tech had the rare privilege of hosting two sitting U.S. Presidents. President George W. Bush visited the campus in 2003 along with then Congressman Richard Burr (who helped arrange the visit). In 2010, President Barrack Obama visited the college.
President Bush participated in a panel discussion regarding jobs and the economy and said, “We’ve got to make sure we’re able to match the skills and talent and drive of North Carolina citizens with the jobs of the future. And a great place to do that is at the community colleges here in North Carolina and all around the country. It’s very important for this type of education to be demand driven.”
In addition to helping provide skills for careers in demand, the true measure of success, Dr. Green said, is the impact a community college has on students and their families. “We look at groups and students, enrollment numbers and budgets and funds…but it’s about individual people and the lives we’re changing,” said Dr. Green.
He shares Forsyth Tech success stories like Sam McCart and John Belk (story on page 4) and of Kathy Proctor who returned to school after being laid off in the furniture industry.
Dr. Green tells how Proctor met President Obama when he was here touring the biotechnology program in 2010. Proctor expressed to the President how important Pell Grants and the Trade Adjustment Assistance funds had been for her to go back to school especially because she was supporting two teenage daughters. Two weeks later, Proctor was invited to the State of the Union Address where President Obama told her story and recognized her sitting in the gallery with First Lady Michelle Obama.
“I saw Kathy again a couple of years ago, when she told me all the ways Forsyth Tech had changed her life and the life of her family,” said Dr. Green. “Her daughters have attended College and have good careers in front of them. That’s how Forsyth Tech helped Kathy Proctor.”
Growth in Programs and Facilities
Forsyth Tech also enlarged its physical footprint during
Dr. Green’s tenure, opening the Transportation Technology Center with programs in auto mechanics, diesel and heavy equipment, and motorsports. Forsyth Tech built strategic partnerships with Toyota, through the Toyota T-Ten program, SalemNationalLease, and Richard Childress Racing.
With the opening of the Northwest Forsyth Center, the College expanded programs in public safety for law enforcement, fire protection certification, emergency medical technicians, and electrical linemen, offering students even more options for their future.
Under Dr. Green’s leadership, Forsyth Tech emerged as a front-runner in cybersecurity education with the first associate degree in IT Security in
the state. In recent years, the College’s cyber program has been designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber-Defense by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and is one of the six NSA Cybersecurity Regional Resource Centers (CRRC) in the nation.
Forsyth Tech began as an education center to support the important manufacturing employers in the region, and the College has never forgotten its roots. In 2008, through Green’s association with the Manufacturing Institute, the College was selected to pilot and implement nationally recognized skill standards in community colleges. The project was sponsored by the Manufacturing Institute and the Gates Foundation. With the opening of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing in 2017, the College upgraded and expanded its computer numerical control machining program and opened a new additive manufacturing/3-D printing lab. Robotics is now part of the manufacturing curriculum as well.
Under Dr. Green’s watch, Forsyth Tech nursing and allied health programs continue to grow and are leading health technology education with the use of digital learning tools such as simulated patients. The College’s health programs are among the largest in North Carolina Community Colleges, which is beneficial for the community as the largest employers in Winston-Salem today are its health care organizations: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Novant Health.
“All of these programs were focused on the workforce and building a pipeline for career opportunities. I think we have worked very hard to make sure the programs that we are offering to our students are aligned with the needs of the community,” said Dr. Green.
During the economic recession beginning in 2007-2008, as people were experiencing job layoffs, they turned to community colleges. “We had tremendous growth during that time, because this was the only place people had to turn to for a future, and we stepped up,” said Dr. Green.
The growth surge in enrollment at Forsyth Tech leveled off in 2012. However, the College continued to expand into Innovation Quarter which houses both the Small Business Center, and Business and Industry Services, and into the Forsyth Tech Stokes County Center. Design is also currently underway for the Aviation Technology Laboratory at Smith Reynolds Airport. The College has implemented several new transfer agreements with four-year universities to pave the way for college transfer success.
During the last six years, Dr. Green has focused on enrollment, course completion, and the success for all students. He is proud of the passion of the Forsyth Tech faculty and staff and their commitment to transform and become a better college for students and employees.
“Dr. Green has well-served Forsyth Tech as its president, leading some of the school’s most sweeping changes in its history,” said Alan Proctor, past chairman of Forsyth Tech’s Board of Trustees at Dr. Green’s retirement news conference. “During his tenure, he tremendously evolved the educational experience for our students, added an array of new curricula, led more that $100 million in facility expansions, raised more than $33 million over two significant capital campaigns, and turned the school into a national educational model for biotechnology, cybersecurity, and motorsports technology.”
Beyond Forsyth Tech
Dr. Green is a frequent presenter on workforce development and community college issues regionally, nationally, and internationally, and has made appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, and NPR. He has been a presenter at joint US-European Union, US-Canada, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conferences and was a speaker at the White House Conference on the Economy in 2004.
He serves on the North Carolina State University College of Education advisory committee for the community college leadership program and has consulted and presented for the Aspen Institute College Excellence program.
For the Future
“Community colleges are now on a whole new level,” Dr. Green said. “We are addressing the numerous barriers to student success while managing funding challenges. We have responsibilities to continue to enhance
our academic programs while meeting the workforce needs of the community. And we must be prepared for the rapidly changing digital and technological landscape in education while not losing sight of compassion and care for our students. One of our core values is the responsiveness to the community, and that means responsiveness to change. Forsyth Tech is on the right path.”
Regarding his retirement, Green said, “Being president of Forsyth Tech has been the highlight of my professional life. I will always be grateful to the Board of Trustees for this opportunity. I have been fortunate to work with faculty and staff who are exceptionally committed and passionate about student success.”
The college is well-prepared for the future thanks to Dr. Green’s legacy of transformation, growth and success.
Forsyth Tech has grown tremendously under Dr. Green’s leadership. Here are a few of the college’s accomplishment s since 2001:
- The college’s footprint expanded to almost one million square feet of space on eight campuses.
- Forsyth Tech’s Health Technology program is among the largest in any community college in the state .
- The first CareersNow graduating class was at Forsyth Tech.
- In cyber education, the college earned the most distinguished honor for Cybersecurity Excellence any two- or four-year college can receive with the designation of Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) in cyber defense education.
- The college was also one of only six in the nation to be named a Cybersecurity Regional Resource Center (CRRC).
- Through the Economic and Workforce Development division, 41 classes of Electrical Linemen, as part of the only nationally certified program in N .C., have graduated more than 500 linemen.
- The college opened the Center for Advanced Manufacturing as a national model for manufacturing training and has initiated and maintained partnerships with manufacturing employers.
- Forsyth Tech became the first community college in the Carolinas, and only one of 36 other Centers across the U.S., to receive Toyota T-TEN Certification for its Automotive Systems Technology program.
- Through the Richard Childress Race Car Technology Program, Forsyth Tech has the oldest and largest motorsports technology program of any community college in the state.
- A Forsyth Tech team of six nanotechnology students won the second annual Community College Innovation Challenge funded by the National Science Foundation in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges. Each year, teams continue to attend and perform well in the competition in Washington, D.C.
- Forsyth Tech architecture students consistently place first or second in state design competitions that include two- and four-year colleges.
- Forsyth Tech was the first community college in America to earn recognition as a Toon Boom Center of Excellence in the Digital Arts and Animation program.
- In partnership with IMG College, Forsyth Tech developed a Broadcast Production Associate Degree Program. Forsyth Tech started a low-cost dental clinic for the community, giving dental hygienist and dental assistant students experience while serving economically disadvantaged residents.
Throughout Dr. Green’s tenure, Forsyth Tech has impacted thousands of lives.