QVCC Foundation celebrates 40 years

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Tue., Sep. 27, 2011
Tom Menard unveiled his painting commemorating QVCC's 40th anniversary. Photos by D. Coffey.
Tom Menard unveiled his painting commemorating QVCC's 40th anniversary. Photos by D. Coffey.

The Quinebaug Valley Community College Foundation celebrated its 40th anniversary on Sept. 24. The Townsend Atrium was transformed with balloons and a wine bar, hors d'oeuvres tables and a 7-foot-tall cake made of row upon row of cupcakes. A painting of QVCC by local artist Tom Menard was unveiled. QVCC President Ross Tomlin called on the gathered dignitaries and guests to applaud the generosity of the northeastern Connecticut community for their support in starting the college 40 years ago, and the commitment they have made to keep it healthy and vibrant.

“It's a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all the good things we do here in northeastern Connecticut,” Tomlin said. “We have a tremendous foundation that raises lots of money each year for students. We have a wonderful track record of working with thousands and thousands of students from this area of the state.”

QVCC President Emeritus Robert Miller, the first president of the college, said the school had been able to respond to the changing needs of the community over the past 40 years. “It's been affordable, accessible and responsive,” he said. “I'm just delighted that I was a part of it.”

QVCC Foundation's current president, Karen Osbrey, credits Miller with having the foresight to start the foundation the same year the college began. “It's quite unusual,” she said. He had the vision to realize the school needed a foundation to provide financial support, besides the tuition and fees, she said. “Our goal has always been to make sure that any resident of northeastern Connecticut can attend QVCC regardless of income,” she said. “We've been steadfast in this goal.”

The QVCC Foundation has a $2.7 million endowment currently. They awarded $150,000 in financial aid and scholarships this fiscal year alone, according to Director of Development Monique Wolanin. It is one of the most successful foundations of the state’s 12 community colleges, said Miller. “The generosity of individuals and businesses in northeastern Connecticut has made it successful,” he said.

The challenges that the college and foundation face in the future include a stalled economy, a restructuring of the state's community colleges and state universities, and a need to provide area residents with training for jobs and opportunities that provide living wages. “There are always challenges,” Tomlin said.

The school is proceeding with plans to build a 50,000-square-foot addition to the middle college on campus. It will also include a half gym, fitness center, two science labs, and more classroom space. There are expansion plans for the cafeteria and library. Tomlin said the school plans to develop more career technical programs as enrollment continues to grow.

Aili Galasyn was one of the founding members of the QVCC Regional Advisory Committee. As the college continues to grow, she hopes it will become more than just a community college and charter school. “We're growing into vocational education,” she said. “That's the real need in this part of the state, to train kids to be able to hold jobs that they can stick with for their lives and that will earn them a decent living.”

Osbrey is confident that the foundation and college will continue to thrive. “I think the community at large embraces QVCC and realizes what a gem we have here, right in our own back yard. It is one of the gems in our crown. This is a community place. You don't have to be a student to enjoy the gallery or use the library of take advantage of all QVCC has to offer,” she said.

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