MONROE — Dr. Maria Pharr was installed as the fourth president of South Piedmont Community College, and has the desire to create change.
“I am both humbled and honored to stand before our esteemed Board of Trustees, the wonderful and dedicated faculty and staff, our respectable community and government leaders, and my special friends and supportive family as the fourth president of South Piedmont Community College,” said Pharr, who added that she was seeking an opportunity to “create positive and meaningful change in a community that I could call home.”
When people began to tell her that she was the person for the job, Pharr said that she visited the community and campus, and agreed.
Pharr has about 16 years of experience in community colleges, including leadership roles at Craven Community College in New Bern and Pitt Community College in Greenville.
Before taking the president job in January, Pharr was the executive director of BioNetwork and Life Science Initiatives at North Carolina Community College System office in Raleigh.
“Today, we are reminded of the work of our predecessors in creating this college, we relish in the many accomplishments of those that have passed through our doors, and we eagerly anticipate the bright future that lies ahead of us,” Pharr said. “As I contemplate this continuum of progress, I envision the creation of a tapestry.”
She said that designing a tapestry begins with a single artist who creates a design that is transferred into simple lines drawn across the warp, or structural threads, of a loom.
“The weavers then take their uniquely dyed threads, or weft, and skillfully and thoughtfully arrange them across the vertical warp of the loom, interpreting the artist’s image with their own infusion of soulful creativity,” she continued. “The weaver sits behind the loom and occasionally looks across at a mirror to see the reflection of the forming image.”
Pharr said that when the mirror is turned just right, the image aligns perfectly with the area being woven. She also said that the skill and experience of the weaver is what helps to create the thread and structure, and it integrates both humanity and spirit into the design.
“When complete, the tapestry is a celebration that honors both the art and the artists who created it,” Pharr said. “I ask that you consider this metaphor in relation to who we are and what we do.
“Each president has been the artist for their time, and their visions were represented by the simple lines transferred to the warp and used as the guidelines for the weavers,” she said. “The weavers are our faculty and staff, who pull the weft between, around, and through the warp revealing the beautiful tapestry of students and communities that are at the heart of what we do.”
Pharr said that the tapestry could not be complete without the craftsmen who spool the bobbins, dye the threads, and construct the loom. She said that these people are family and friends who send their continued support.
“This living art, this masterpiece, comes to life only when we all move together in harmony and look forward,” she said. “What we see is a beautiful image that reveals the essence of our labors.”
Pharr said that although her installation is the beginning of a new tapestry, she could not go on without showing respect and gratitude to those who have brought SPCC and its community to this point.
“I am grateful for the work of the former presidents; for their courage, vision, and resolve that supported the evolution of South Piedmont Community College from the formation of the college charter, to having four sites across Anson and Union Counties, and serving over 6,800 students annually,” Pharr said, also thanking those who had a hand in both her past, and her future at SPCC.
Pharr said that when they place the students and community needs at the focal point of their efforts, they reach milestones, including, exceeding 3,000 curriculum students this fall. She said that they surpassed the state’s excellence level for performance of transfer students, and transformed vocational curricula to infuse employability skills ensuring that students are ones that employers desire.
Pharr closed by asking every to help create this new tapestry. She said that the lines will be those that prioritize stewardship, quality, and service “in all we do, and that create, enrich, and innovate our programs with the skills required for current and future jobs.”
“They will be lines that enhance and develop partnerships with our educational, business, economic, and workforce development associates, and they will be lines that provide the most relevant and vital support services that lead to success for our students,” she concluded. “Our commitment to these values and goals will create an enduring masterpiece that reveres and commemorates the art and the artists, our students, our community, and all that is South Piedmont Community College.”