Gaston College Names Vet Tech Building After Former President
Gaston College named its Institute of Veterinary Technology building after its former president, Patricia Skinner, who helped start the program before retiring two years ago.
Dozens of people came out on a sunny Wednesday morning for the naming ceremony held on the Dallas campus.
“No one does this alone,” said Skinner, “and I had a very supportive board, this community, Gaston and Lincoln counties are very supportive of Gaston College. When I arrived here, I could see that this was their college, and they did what they could to help us raise the money and expand the program.”
The college's $4 million veterinary facility — nicknamed Vet Tech — was completed in 2020. The program had operated for 16 years primarily in a small, off-campus facility next to the former Gaston County Animal Shelter in Dallas Park.
Skinner thanked the college's current president, John Hauser, and the college trustees for the honor of having a building named after her on campus.
"I’ve just felt this college is very, very special,” she said.
Skinner's time at the college was marked by tremendous growth, Hauser told those in attendance. Her first graduating class as president consisted of 347 students compared to the 1,455 students who graduated in 2018.
When Skinner arrived on campus in 1994, the college endowment was barely more than $300,000. At the end of 2019, the endowment totaled more than $5.4 million. She also partnered with Gaston County and Lincoln County schools to bring more opportunities to students, Hauser said.
Since its launch in 1995, Gaston College’s veterinary technology program has become 14th in the top 50 veterinary technology programs in the nation. It has also become first in the state for its three-year national exam pass rate. With more than 500 students now having graduated with a veterinary technology degree from Gaston College, this program has found itself with a 100% job placement rate.
Veterinary Technology student Nelson Capehart was considering a four-year university before coming to Gaston College. Going to the two-year community college first made sense for both his career and finances, he said.
"It’s just a really nice way to get into the field that I’ve always wanted to be in without having to go through all the rigmarole of a four-year university," Capehart said.
"I’m just so glad that it’s accessible to all these other people who… may have varying circumstances but they can still get a good education.”
Luc Séguret, a rising senior at Western Carolina University, is working as a reporter for The Gaston Gazette until he returns to school in August. He can be reached at 828-206-2544 or email him at LSeguret@Gannett.com.