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Dr. Gene Couch, an Abingdon native who began his education at Virginia’s community colleges, stepped into his new role as Virginia Highlands Community College’s sixth president this morning.
Dr. Couch most recently served as executive vice president at Alamance Community College in Graham, N.C. He holds an associate’s degree from Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands, a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina’s Mars Hill College, a master’s degree and education specialist degree from Western Carolina University, and a doctorate from East Tennessee State University.
He was hired after a nationwide search that netted more than 80 applicants and brought four finalists to campus for interviews.
Dr. Couch began his first day with an email message to faculty and staff, then joined them for a breakfast reception.
“I firmly believe in the power of the community college to transform the lives of our student, families and communities,” he said in his message. “This power is exemplified by the impact Virginia Highlands Community College has played in this region during the past 45 plus years. You have done great things, and there are many opportunities still ahead.”
He also announced plans to meet with all members of the campus community in the coming weeks and “doing a great deal of listening and asking lots of questions so that I can arrive at a deeper appreciation for VHCC.”
Dr. Couch replaces Dr. Ron Proffitt, who retired June 30 after four years as VHCC President.
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