Past, present board members remember ACTC
Ashland Community and Technical College continues its 80th anniversary celebration by recognizing some of its past and current board members who began their journey to higher education at their local community college.
Richard Martin, an attorney in Ashland, attended the Ashland Center of the University of Kentucky, an ACTC predecessor formerly known as Ashland Junior College, from 1962-1964. He studied English and said his goal in attending the college was to get as many transferable credits as possible before applying to the University of Kentucky.
Martin, a former ACTC Board of Directors member, said his time at the college prepared him for university life.
“I had wonderful, supportive, highly competent faculty that taught me how to write and to express my ideas in an organized, rational manner,” he said. “They taught me how to manage a full course load while working on the side. I developed an interpersonal skill set with interactions with students, faculty and staff.”
Martin said he highly recommends ACTC as a place to prepare for further educational opportunities and receive mentorship. He also said the college is essential to the community.
“ACTC is an absolute necessity to the survival of the community and area and for training our work force,” he said. “ACTC provides the gateway to higher education at a very affordable cost with a wide variety of fields of study. It is the best option open to those looking to return to the classroom to broaden their vocational opportunities and gives a strong support structure for local employers.”
John C. Stewart Jr. is a current ACTC Board of Directors member who graduated from the college in 1966. Now retired from real estate development, Stewart attended the college to save money and prepare for his transfer to UK.
He said his experience was a positive one.
“The closeness of the teachers and willingness to help you improve developed confidence in my ability,” he said.
Stewart also said ACTC offers affordable education for the community, vocational training and flexibility for students who must maintain employment while going to school.
P. Bruce Leslie graduated from the college in 1967 and transferred to UK and then on to the University of Kentucky School of Law. He said the college was local and relatively inexpensive but yet had a great learning environment with quality instructors.
Now a senior partner in the law firm of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie and Kirkland, Leslie said the quality of education and professors at ACTC were at least as good, if not better, than he encountered at the University of Kentucky. He also said his fondest memories came with his service to the college.
“My best experience at ACTC came after my graduation from law school,” he said. “Shortly thereafter, I was appointed to the then ACC Board of Directors. I am proud to have served on the board for 30 years, 28 years of which I was the chairman. Along with the board, we hired outstanding presidents who have led the institution and upheld and expanded its academic and vocational reputation.”
Leslie was also a founding member of the Community and Technical College Foundation of Ashland Inc.
“Prior to Ed Maddox and I starting the foundation, little or no fundraising had been done for the college,” he said. “Since its formation, I am satisfied it has contributed in many, many ways to the success of an innumerable number of students.”
Leslie currently serves on the Kentucky Community and Technical College System Foundation Board.
“In my years of service as chairman of the board of directors, and now in my capacity as a member of the statewide KCTCS Foundation Board, in these roles I have traveled all over our state,” he said. “I can tell you the reputation of ACTC as an outstanding institution of higher learning and vocational education is literally unmatched amongst our peers.
“I can think of few institutions that are more essential to our community than ACTC. In addition to providing a basic educational foundation for those who wish to transfer to four-year institutions, ACTC has always been incredibly responsive to the workforce training needs of our community.”
Ann B. Perkins, owner of Second Hand Rose and executive director of Safe Harbor, graduated from ACTC in 1971. She said she chose ACTC so she could stay at home and work to earn money to go to UK, which she did. The Holy Family graduate also said it helped her transition into a public school setting.
Among her best experiences at the college, Perkins said, “Dr. Goodpaster was very influential in helping me to get my first job after graduation. He wrote a personal reference for me to the Girl Scouts of Wilderness Road.”
With the rising cost of higher education across the country, Perkins said ACTC gives students in the community an opportunity to attend college while holding down employment.
“The cost of a college degree today far outweighs some folk’s ability to attend,” she said. “Some of ACTC’s technical degrees can provide a higher return on investment in time and tuition than many four-year degrees. It also is an economic development tool for many businesses and industry as a training or retraining opportunity for workforce development. Many folks who suffer generational poverty and low educational background have an opportunity for first generation college opportunities that they may never be able to access anywhere else.”
Perkins is currently a member of the ACTC Board of Directors.
Martha C. Johnson graduated from ACTC, then Ashland Community College, in 1972. She had received a scholarship to attend Morehead State University, but said she realized she wasn’t ready to leave home.
“ACTC gave me the opportunity to participate in work study, earn the first two years of credits toward my four-year degree, and keep my expenses down, which was an important factor,” Johnson said. “ACTC provided me an excellent foundation. I learned what it meant to be prepared for class, how I was expected to write a paper and how to research a topic. I learned that professors expect you to talk with them when you have a question, a comment or a concern. I learned what it meant to be a college student.”
During her time at ACC, she was editor of Off Center, the campus newspaper, and was a work study.
Johnson, founding president of the KCTCS Board of Regents, transferred to Western Kentucky University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She retired as vice president of communications and corporate affairs from Ashland Inc.
Though she now resides in Georgia, Johnson said ACTC is still a valuable asset to the Ashland community.
“The college provides so many dimensions that the community would miss without it,” she said. “The educational experience itself is important, of course, but there also are the other mind-expanding opportunities that only a college experience can provide. Then, too, the faculty and staff who have invested their own time and talents to learning, teaching and administering to the students provide those same assets to the community at large as they go about living their lives as a part of the community.”
Dr. E.B. Gevedon III is a past foundation board member. He graduated from ACC in 1978 to prepare himself to transfer to UK and then on to medical school at the University of Louisville. He said the college provided him with “an excellent scientific foundation for medical school.”
“I would not trade my experience at ACC for that of any other institution,” he said. “Students today need look no further for a fine education than ACTC. It will prepare them for a lifetime of employment and service to their families and the community.”
Gevedon said while the programs offered at ACTC have changed somewhat since he was in college, he recognizes the importance of meeting the needs of local industry.
“Students have much available to them locally and at a lower expense,” he said. “The emphasis has changed since my era with more technical degrees, which are the future and provide students with good jobs.”