Newbern’s contributions leave a lasting legacy

Published 5:25 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2020

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WELDON – Halifax Community College President Michael A. Elam announced Nov. 13 that it was with great sadness that he learned of the passing of Dr. Elton L. Newbern, Jr., the second president of HCC.

Dr. Newbern, a native of Colerain in Bertie County, passed away from an unexpected battle with COVID-19.

“His significant contributions to the early development of HCC will leave a lasting legacy on the Roanoke Valley community. The entire HCC family mourns his loss and conveys our deepest sympathies to the Newbern family,” Elam stated.

Dr. Newbern had a philosophy of always espousing large doses of forethought, planning, and accountability to those he served, Elam added.

That philosophy was evident during his 10-year tenure at HCC from July 1, 1988 – September 1, 1998. The curriculum and continuing education enrollment grew from 5,800 students to 8,050, and the full-time equivalent student enrollment experienced a 60 percent growth during his tenure.

In addition to the enrollment growth, Dr. Newbern also oversaw the expansion of HCC’s campus with the construction of the Nursing and Student Services Building in 1990.

HCC received $810,000 from the North Carolina General Assembly and $79,000 appropriated from the Halifax County Board of Commissioners to fund the parking lot with 165 parking spaces adjacent to the new building.

The Literacy and Science Education Building was built in 1994 with funding from the Halifax County Board of Commissioners to help meet the literacy and science programs’ demands. Enrollment in the literacy program had grown to over 1,300 students.

On September 15, 2015, the building was renamed Dr. Elton L. Newbern, Jr. Educational Center to honor his tenure and accomplishments as president of HCC.

HCC opened its childcare center in July of 1996 to house 45 children whose parents were students, staff, and residents of the service region.

The new building also housed classrooms for the Criminal Justice and Early Childhood Education programs.

This building was financed through a $300 million bond referendum approved by North Carolina voters in 1993 to pay for construction projects on the campuses of North Carolina Community Colleges throughout the state.

The foundation experienced growth with 24 new endowments, and funding tripled during Dr. Newbern’s tenure. Technology upgrades were made with $250,000 of new equipment in the classrooms, labs, and instructors’ and staff offices.

Dr. Newbern held memberships in many organizations, including Phi Delta Kappa, American Education Research Association, NC Association of Community Colleges Instructional Administrators, American Association of Colleges and Junior Colleges, Lions Club, and Rotary Club.

In 1992, he received the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations District II Pacesetter Award.

Before Dr. Newbern’s tenure as President of HCC, he served as Vice President of Vance-Granville Community College, principal of Rocky Mount Senior High School, principal of Bertie County Senior High School, and a math teacher with Bertie County School System.

Dr. Newbern was married to Ann Elliott Newbern. He was the father to Elton Lee Newbern III (Annette) and Nan Newbern Loud (David) and stepfather to Katherine Peel McEwen (Chad). He was grandfather to Noah, Seth, Sarah Anne, and Pittman.

Graveside services for Dr. Newbern were held on Nov. 15 at Woodlawn Cemetery in Williamston.

(Lance Martin is the Editor and Publisher of Permission was received to publish this story.)