On Sept. 21, 1961, College of The Albemarle opened its doors and welcomed its first students. In the subsequent 60 years, COA has served the residents of the Albemarle region as the community’s college. COA was the first comprehensive community college in North Carolina, which is appropriate as the Albemarle region has a strong history of being a land of firsts.
COA is fundamentally different from the other 57 colleges that compose the North Carolina Community College System. COA serves seven counties (Pasquotank, Dare, Currituck, Chowan, Camden, Gates, and Perquimans) and has campuses in Pasquotank, Dare, Currituck and Chowan. Most other system colleges serve one or two counties, and no other college serves more than four counties. With a large and very diverse service area, COA is dependent on the financial support of the counties it serves. In this regard, COA is blessed. All seven of the service-area counties financially support COA.
In addition to this ongoing financial support of our counties, the college is currently adding academic and training resources. In August, the college opened a significant new educational space in Currituck County in the county’s new Public Safety Center. This new building, built by the county, houses new classrooms and labs for COA and houses the county’s new Emergency Operations Center and several county services. There is also an additional support building that will allow COA to expand its emergency services training opportunities in the county and region.
Dare County is also constructing a new COA building that COA will occupy in spring 2022. This building will bring approximately 36,000 square feet of state-of-the-art learning spaces to COA-Dare. The new facility allows COA to consolidate in one location in Dare County. This new space and consolidation should help the college to attract even more graduates from Dare County’s high schools to begin their postsecondary education at COA and take advantage of the Dare Guarantee. This scholarship, funded by Dare County, allows many Dare residents to attend COA for free.
In addition to these new buildings, COA is currently expanding academic spaces on our other campuses. The Pasquotank Board of Commissioners voted in April to unanimously support funding an expansion of the college’s nursing and allied health programs and simulation facilities. COA has also recently renovated some additional space at COA-Edenton-Chowan to allow more training opportunities.
Because of the continuing support COA receives in the region, the college is poised to continue playing an essential role in the region’s life.
Thank you for allowing us to be your community college for the last 60 years. We are also thankful for your continuing support, which enables us to reshape the college to serve the evolving needs of our service area. We are committed to using your resources to educate our citizens and be an economic driver for our region.
COA’s first 60 years have witnessed a lot of growth and change at the college, and COA is positioned to continue to provide the area with the transfer and workforce development programs it needs. We tell students to Transform Your Tomorrow at COA. These transformations are only possible because of your support. Thank you!
Dr. Jack Bagwell is president of College of The Albemarle.