History of PCC

PCC 60th Anniversary CELEBRATION | Interview with PCC Presidents


Pitt Community College was chartered by the North Carolina State Board of Education in March 1961 and began operation as Pitt Industrial Education Center that year with Dr. Lloyd Spaulding serving as director.

As program offerings developed, the school grew to become Pitt Technical Institute (PTI) in July 1964. The Vernon E. White Building opened two months later to serve 96 students in nine curricula.

Dr. William E. Fulford served as president from 1964 to 1984, and the institution developed considerably under his leadership.

The Robert Lee Humber Building was completed in 1970, followed five years later by a new addition to Vernon White that provided space for a student lounge with various recreational facilities and Business Computer Programming courses. Today, the White Building houses electrical systems courses but primarily serves as the college’s administrative center.

Two noteworthy events occurred in the summer of 1979: The Kay V. Whichard Building was completed, providing space for classrooms and shop facilities, and the N.C. General Assembly passed legislation, changing PTI to Pitt Community College. Along with the new name came the addition of two-year university transfer programs.

Dr. Charles E. Russell, a Jamesville native, was named PCC’s third president in 1984. He served until 2003, helping PCC become one of the state’s largest community colleges.

Under Russell’s leadership, the college added 32 curriculum degree programs and led the charge for three major bond referenda. In 1991, he encouraged college trustees to spend $2 million in bond revenue to purchase 105 acres from H.L. Bowen’s heirs, thus providing a foundation for much of the college’s future growth.

Seven buildings were added to the PCC main campus during Russell’s tenure:

  • Clifton W. Everett Building — Opened in 1987 to provide a home for the college’s Learning Resource Center. It was completely renovated between March 2018 and February 2020.
  • B. Whitley Building — A vocational education classroom and lab/shop facility, it opened in February 1990.
  • William E. Fulford Building — Opened in January 1993, it provides instructional/office space for allied health curricula.
  • Welding/Masonry Building — The building, which includes the John Roberts Welding Lab, opened in April 1993.
  • Henry Leslie Building — Opened in November 1996, it provides space for the college’s Transitional Studies Department.
  • Edward and Joan Warren Building — Opened in January 2000, the building houses the Charles Coburn Center, which is home to the college’s women’s volleyball and men’s basketball teams. It also hosts offices and classrooms for placement testing, PCC Athletics, TRiO and intramural sports.
  • Raymond Reddrick Building — Completed in the spring of 2004, the building includes classrooms, offices, computer labs and the PCC Student Success Center.

In the fall of 1997, all 58 of North Carolina’s community colleges converted from the quarter system to a semester system.

Following Russell’s retirement, Dr. G. Dennis Massey was selected as PCC’s fourth president in 2003. He began Aug. 1, bringing with him more than 34 years of experience in higher education, including service as interim president of McHenry Community College in Illinois.

PCC experienced considerable growth with Massey as president.

In 2005, PCC Trustees agreed to purchase the 131-acre Davenport property adjacent to Pitt’s main campus and approved a Facilities Master Plan outlining future campus growth. The following year, the college opened a Public Safety Training Center near Bethel that featured pistol and rifle ranges. It also re-opened the Humber Building after an extensive renovation project brought the facility in line with modern building, energy and handicap accessibility codes.

To alleviate main campus congestion during Humber’s renovation, PCC purchased the former MacThrift office building on Memorial Drive in Greenville. The facility eventually became the PCC Greenville Center to house continuing education programming, including the PCC Small Business Center.

Minges-Overton Baseball Complex received a facelift in 2006-07 that included the additions of state-of-the-art lighting and Lewis Field House. Fencing to secure the ballpark site was added in 2019.

The 2009 Spring Semester featured the opening of the Craig F. Goess Student Center, which serves as a one-stop shop for student services, including counseling, financial aid and admissions. It featured the J. Paul & Diana S. Davenport Multipurpose Room, Walter & Marie Williams Dining Room, and Bulldog Café.

PCC opened the Herman Simon Building, a major addition to the Fulford Building, in 2010. The facility provides space for health sciences programming. To help pay for its construction, the PCC Foundation launched the college’s first-ever capital campaign in February 2008 and raised more than $7 million in 14 months.

A number of capital improvement projects began in 2010, starting with the Construction and Industrial Technology (CIT) Building and Facilities Services Complex. Administrators cut the ribbon on both in May 2012, adding more than 90,000 square feet of instructional space, offices and storage areas to the west side of campus. The $10.2 million needed for construction came through a quarter-cent local sales tax Pitt County voters approved in 2007.

The CIT Building, which is named for PCC alumnus and local businessman Craig M. Goess, is home to Automotive Systems Technology and Building Construction Technology. It features classrooms and state-of-the-art labs and work bays.

The Facilities Services Complex provides space for maintenance, grounds, purchasing and courier services. It features offices, a conference room, warehouses, mail room and carpentry shop.

Later in 2012, PCC dedicated the Charles E. Russell Building, which features 24 general purpose classrooms and computer labs, 26 offices for faculty and staff, study areas, a pair of conference rooms and a secondary campus data facility. It cost $9.3 million to build, with funding coming from the quarter-cent local sales tax.

Despite the addition of new facilities, PCC remained North Carolina’s most-crowded community college. With that in mind, PCC administrators embarked upon an awareness campaign in 2013 to explain to the community the need for passage of a $19.9 million-bond referendum in order to provide more instructional space on campus. The efforts paid off in November 2013, when a majority of Pitt County voters supported the bond funding by a 10,735-6,479 margin (62.4 percent).

While bond funding was being raised, two new additions joined the PCC landscape in 2015. The 35-foot Ed and Joan Warren Clock Tower, a gift to the PCC Foundation from the Warren Estate, was raised into place in February, and a new $3.58 million-addition to the Goess Student Center opened in April, providing space for the Fulford-Rhodes Student Store and a variety of services, including a career center, student lounge, offices, conference rooms, and 45-station computer lab.

When bond funding became available, PCC used roughly $2 million to purchase, renovate and equip a building closer to main campus for law enforcement training. A ribbon-cutting took place in December 2016.

The remaining bond money (approximately $18 million) was combined with a $2 million-U.S. Economic Development Administration grant to build the Walter and Marie Williams Building. The 78,000-square-foot structure opened in 2017 and is home to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming.

Following Massey’s retirement in the summer of 2018, PCC welcomed Dr. Lawrence L. Rouse as its fifth-ever president. A South Carolina native, Rouse brought more than 36 years of experience in community college administration to PCC. He joined Pitt from James Sprunt Community College, where he’d served as president and CEO for 13 years.

Shortly after Rouse began, PCC and Pitt County Schools administrators cut the ribbon on a new home for the Pitt County Schools Early College High School on PCC’s main campus. The 13,000-square-foot building features eight classrooms and a multipurpose room.

Several months later, college administrators cut the ribbon on newly-renovated health sciences facilities in the Fulford and Simon buildings, which included a 10-bed simulation hospital, hot lab, and classrooms and laboratories for several programs.

At the start of 2019, PCC announced a three-year partnership with the prestigious Achieving the Dream National Network. Rouse called it a “paradigm shift” for the college in its effort to increase educational equity and ensure students – particularly low-income students and students of color – achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth and economic opportunity.

Throughout 2019, the PCC Foundation engaged in a campaign to raise funding for the college’s VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program, after receiving an offer of up to $2 million from the Eddie & Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation. In January 2020, the PCC Foundation announced it had surpassed its $1 million-goal to fully match the Smith Family Foundation’s pledge.

In March 2020, PCC closed campus to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic and shifted nearly all of its course offerings to the internet mid-semester. The college’s response also included having employees telework and making the most of technological advancements to provide quality instruction and student support services remotely.

It wasn’t until the fall of 2021 that Pitt was able to return to full, on-campus operations. The college made facial masks optional in March 2022, based primarily on increased safety measures and the availability of COVID vaccines.

With the PCC campus community returning to normalcy, work on the Eddie & Jo Allison Smith Center for Student Advancement was finally completed in March 2023, The 28,000-square-foot structure was officially dedicated on April 6 and is now home to Pitt’s Institutional Advancement Division, which includes the PCC Foundation and the college’s marketing and media relations departments. It also houses the VISIONS program and Slocum-Bunch Veterans Center, which provides services to PCC’s student veteran population.

The majority of the approximately $14 million needed for the Smith Center’s construction was raised through a PCC Foundation capital campaign that began in 2017 and the NC Connect bond North Carolina voters approved in 2016.

In July 2023, PCC purchased a pair of buildings and land on the former Alliance One property in Farmville to use as its PCC Farmville Center for Applied Technology. The approximately $2.1 million-transaction gives Pitt more than 50,000 square feet to offer a variety of short-term workforce development programming in Farmville and the surrounding area.

Today, PCC serves more than 17,000 credit and non-credit students annually on its main campus in Winterville, satellite campuses/facilities throughout Pitt County, and online. It awards associate degrees, diplomas and certificates in more than 70 programs of study. The college also provides adult basic education and literacy training, English language acquisition courses, customized training for business and industry, workforce development classes, small business assistance and personal enrichment courses. Combined, Pitt offers more than 280 credentials through curriculum and continuing education programming.