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Gurganus Gift to Fund Teaching Center at ECC

Members of the Gurganus family in Rocky Mount have provided funding to establish the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Edgecombe Community College. From left are college leaders Dr. Bruce Panneton, Sheryll Wood, and Dr. Greg McLeod; Jack Gurganus, Katie Gurganus Culler, and Samantha Gurganus; and ECC Foundation leader Lynwood Roberson.

A gift from a Rocky Mount family with deep ties to education will establish the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Edgecombe Community College.

Jack Gurganus and his sister, Sonya Gurganus Bowen, have provided funding to create the center because, he says, “We want to strengthen teaching, which is both an art and a science, at all levels.”

Both of his daughters are elementary school teachers. “Because of them, I understand the need to support teaching. They are very passionate about their jobs and education, and this gift also honors them,” he says.

The goal of the new center, which will be housed in the Fleming Building on the Tarboro campus, is to strengthen instruction at the college level.

According to Dr. Bruce Panneton, vice president of instruction at ECC, “Our short-term vision is to have a dedicated space for sharing best practices and trying new instructional techniques and technologies for ECC faculty members.

“Our long-term vision is for our Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence to not only be the ‘go-to’ space for ECC faculty, but also to be a recognized resource for the region.”

He explains, “We want to ensure that ECC faculty have access to up-to-date instructional resources and professional development opportunities in order to help our students be as successful as possible. By strengthening our faculty’s ability to teach, we will, in turn, better prepare our students.”

ECC President Dr. Greg McLeod adds that the center will serve new instructors as well as current faculty. “This initiative will also support instructors who may be new to teaching at a community college who could benefit from the expertise of our excellent and seasoned faculty.”

The target opening date for the new Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence is this fall.

Jack Gurganus spent his career in the grocery store business, first at Gurganus Brothers on Fairview Road, and later at Piggly Wiggly stores in Rocky Mount, Wilson, and Nashville. He retired in 2021 but continues to serve the community as a volunteer with Meals-on-Wheels.

As he explains, “Our whole family is from Edgecombe County. It’s important to give back.”

“We are grateful to the Gurganus family for their commitment to education and for their generous gift to the college,” adds Dr. McLeod. “The new Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence will be a superior resource, initially for Edgecombe Community College instructors, but ultimately for the region.”