60 for 60: The Inauguration of J.B. Buxton: Durham Tech formally installed President Buxton, fifth leader of College
In celebration of Durham Technical Community College’s 60th anniversary, the College is publishing 60 for 60 – a storytelling campaign that highlights the people, places, and events that have progressed and shaped the College’s six decades of impact. The following story has been republished in its entirety. To view more 60 for 60 stories, visit www.durhamtech.edu/60for60.
J.B. Buxton, the fifth president of Durham Technical Community College, was officially installed during an inauguration ceremony Tuesday.
Buxton, the son of two longtime educators and himself an advocate and champion of education policy and higher education leadership, was appointed to the College’s top position in July 2020.
Inside the Phail Wynn, Jr. Student Services Center, an impressive who’s who of elected representatives, community leaders, community college presidents, colleagues, and College leadership buzzed with excitement for the next chapter of Durham Tech’s history. Among the speakers were Thomas Stith III, President of the North Carolina Community College System, and North Carolina Poet Laureat Jaki Shelton Green.
“We come together today at moment freighted with possibility. It is a generational moment. A moment rich with opportunity and with need. It is a moment to ensure a broader social purchase on opportunity and success,” Buxton told the crowd. “To create in the words of Dr. King a ‘more beloved community.’ And although we feel the pressure and excitement of it, this is not just Durham Tech’s moment -- it is our collective moment.”
Buxton has been busy in his first year. He oversaw the College's COVID-19 response, completion of the William G. Ingram Center for Applied Learning and Technology, implementation of the Durham Tech Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, increased education and training for the life sciences sector, and launch of the Guided Career Pathways college-wide restructure, and development of the College’s 2021-26 Strategic Plan.
On Tuesday, Buxton said the College’s goal is long-term success for graduates.
“The goal for our graduates is not a credential or a degree, it is not just a job. It is the Dean Smith test,” Buxton said, harkening back to the Hall of Fame coach’s mantra of looking to student athlete success decades after they left the University of North Carolina. “Where are they well after they have finished at Durham Tech. Have they achieved social mobility? Are they building wealth with generational impact? This more expansive vision of the contract is what undergirds our plans for the next five years."
Former Durham Tech President Bill Ingram spoke about the history of Durham Tech, the evolving future, and the founding fathers of the North Carolina Community College systems.
“President Buxton, it is your charge and your opportunity to continue to build that legacy. In the past year you have already demonstrated your eagerness to carry out that charge,” Ingram said.
Other speakers spoke to Buxton’s leadership, traits, and vision. They all agreed Buxton embodies the characteristics of a great leader.
“We are thrilled and delighted to have his leadership in the community. Buxton has brought forth a new vision, new culture, new level of energy and focus for this outstanding educational institution. President Buxton you have very quickly shown yourself to be an insightful, passionate, and energetic leader,” said Brenda Howerton, Chair of the Durham Board of County Commissioners. “Your previous experience and successes assure our community you were clearly meant to steer this institution and brought a wealth of critical skills and expertise to this assignment.”
Buxton has worked closely with community colleges in North Carolina for more than 20 years since his role as senior advisor to Gov. Mike Easley and deputy state superintendent of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Buxton has already established new partnerships and opportunities to not only help students but also build diverse talent pipelines for industry and business in Durham and Orange counties.
“We need our community college systems to lead in this economic recovery and sustain continued growth necessary to ensure we have a vibrant economy. Durham Tech and community college system are the job engine for North Carolina and we are providing the talent that is needed each and every day but we are also looking in an innovative way to provide those skills and trades for future jobs that we don’t even know about yet,” said Thomas Stith, III, President of the North Carolina Community College System.
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