The GTCC Board of Trustees meeting Thursday was a pretty routine affair. But it marked the end of an era: It was the final trustees' meeting in the top-floor board room of the Medlin Campus Center.
The 44-year-old building — home to most of the college's student service and administrative offices — is getting a top-to-bottom makeover starting this summer. The college already has moved most employees out of Medlin to other spaces on campus. The president, vice presidents and other folks who work on Medlin's top floor will move to the Center for Advancement Manufacturing over the Memorial Day weekend. Most of the former Medlin occupants will be in temporary quarters for about a year and a half until the $19.4 million project is complete.
To send out the old board room, college trustees held a small going-away ceremony after Thursday's meeting. They invited several former board chairs and a former GTCC president to take one last look at the space where they had spent so much time over the years.
The board room at eye level isn't anything special. It's a square space with rounded corners and a big round table that can seat about 16 or so. Chairs and tables for staff members and guests line the edge of the room.
The room's main decoration is a flat-panel TV that hangs behind President Randy Parker's usual seat. Along one wall and part of a second are portraits of a dozen past board chairs, starting with High Point's Zalph Rochelle (1963 to 1967) and ending with Greensboro attorney Jarvis Harris (2013 to 2016).
But the ceiling in that room is something to behold. It's covered in white stucco. There's a circular recess directly about the board table. The recessed area contains a circular chrome chandelier with a single dome light and a shelf on which sits eight fake English ivy plants in baskets.
The ceiling, as they said back when Medlin was built, is a conversation piece.
It's also somewhat of a running joke among GTCC trustees and staff members.
Former president Don Cameron said Thursday trustees and senior staff members deserve a lot of credit for the things that went right during his long tenure at GTCC. Cameron, Parker's predecessor, retired in 2011 after 30 years at the college, including 20 as president.
"Everything that's gone wrong and couldn't get fixed — like this ceiling — I take full responsibility," Cameron quipped. "I didn't finish the job."
(Cameron, by the way, looked well. He told me he's still living in Greensboro and working part-time as a higher ed consultant who advises new community college presidents. He's also spending time with his wife and grandchildren.)
Four former board chairs — Bill McGuinn, Stuart Fountain, Jim Morgan and Shirley Frye — came out for last week's gathering, which consisted mostly of saying nice things about the college and posing for a group picture. Two former board chairs, David Miller and Jarvis Harris, are still on the college's board.
The next regularly scheduled full board meeting will be held June 20 at the CAM building at 6012 West Gate City Boulevard. That's where the offices of the president and other senior staff members will be during the Medlin renovation project.
The June 20 meeting will be Parker's last as president. He's retiring in July. The search is underway for a new president.
Thursday's meeting wasn't all smiles and jokes about the ceiling. Mitchell Johnson, GTCC's associate vice president of facility operations and safety, told trustees that the State Construction Office in Raleigh took more time than expected to review the Medlin project. Instead of returning to a renovated Medlin during winter break in December 2020, Johnson said the college probably won't move back into the building until the summer break of 2021.