By Greg Hince
May 24, 2012. Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute’s Watauga campus will say goodbye to two of its longest-tenured faculty members this week when Sandra Phillips, Executive Director, and Betty Welch, Administrative Assistant, retire after decades at the college.
Phillips began her career at CCC&TI in 1985 as Title III Coordinator before becoming Director of the college’s Watauga campus in July 1986. Welch began working at CCC&TI in 1998 when they opened the doors to the Community College Drive facility in Boone.
Prior to working with the college, Phillips was a teacher and Assistant Principal with the Cleveland County Public School System and Director of Federal Programs for the Watauga County Public School System. Welch worked for Mabel Elementary School, Bethel Elementary School, Blue Ridge Shoe Plant and Watauga Insurance Agency, Inc.
“The phone was ringing when I walked in the door on her first day and hasn’t stopped since,“ Welch said. “I have always been on switchboard since that day.”
Welch said that her duties included helping students, sorting and dispensing mail and selling scantrons and pencils. However, she was also responsible for more complicated tasks like refunding money on vending machines and monitoring the ‘Lost and Found.’
“I will miss my co-workers at the college, but will mostly miss the students I got to work with everyday, that was really a highlight of my career,” she said.
Welch plans to stay busy during her retirement by keeping a clean house and then hopes to stay involved with the school through volunteer work, even if it means just answering phones.
As Director, Phillips had her hands in all aspects of the Watauga Campus for years.
“I will miss the wonderful friends I have made at CCC&TI over the years. They have become so much more than co-workers, they have become family,” she said. “I will miss the students as well. There have been few dull moments around here because they were always surprising me.”
Phillips said that she is looking forward to spending time with family, as well as taking time to unwind and re-energize.
“There are many, many projects I have put on the back burner and now I hope to have time to complete them,” she said. “Of course, the beautiful view from my front porch rocking chair will keep me occupied, too.”
Phillips said that she is leaving her post satisfied with her work and accomplishments.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work at CCC&TI all these years and serve the citizens of Watauga County,” she said. “We have much to be proud and I have no regrets.”
Both Phillips and Welch can’t see themselves becoming bored without the responsibilities of a full-time job in higher education.
“I’m not ready to sit down and do nothing,“ Welch said. “I enjoy being around others and helping them if I can in whatever capacity they might need.”