WHKP Radio was both surprised....and disappointed...to learn that Governor Mike Easley was not re-appointing long-time community leader Joe Spearman to the Blue Ridge Community College Board of Trustees. Spearman has served on that board for 28 years....including 16 years as chairman.
The governor was quoted in the local newspaper as saying all the usual flowery congratulatory things one would expect of someone of Spearman's long, successful, and selfless service...then Easley added bluntly, "...it was time to make a new appointment".
Most of this last year of Spearman's tenure has been filled with conflict between his board and the State Department of Community Colleges. We suspect most of that bru-ha-ha was nothing but a "turf battle" led by state bureaucrats. Granted, some things probably did happen with the college baeball program that should NOT have happened....but as far as we're concerned, Joe Spearman's fundamental decency and good intentions, along with his contributions to education and his life-time record of service to this whole community are above reproach and speak for themselves.
What started as a dream and a lot of hard work...then grew into a "mission" and "a calling" for people like Bill Killian, Bo Thomas, Glenn Marlow, Hugh Randall, Tom Orr, Joe Spearman and so many others...has grown into an example of excellence in local technical and general education. Thousands who otherwise may never have experienced the enlightment, enrichment, joy and fulfillment of higher education have been able to do so at Blue Ridge Community College...thanks to Spearman and the others. So far as we're concerned, that's the legacy Joe Spearman will leave behind when his three decades on the board comes to an end.
One needs only to look at the beautiful campus, the ever-expanding and challenging curriculum, the dedicated and eminently qualified faculty and staff, and the constant flow of eager learners of all ages, hungry for knowledge and success, who "live" the Blue Ridge Community College "experience"...all due in large measure to Joe Spearman's exemplary service as a college trustee and the others who've served and led the community college.
Service on a board as demanding as that of a communiity college is time-consuming, challenging, stressful, even gut-wrenching at times...and the real reward for such service is the success and better lives of those who've crossed that campus. It's disappointing though that the only appreciation Governor Easley is willing to show for 28 years of service is a kick off the board and a few flowery words.
Since Governor Easley thinks it's time for " a new appointment", we hope the next time he's in the area he'll visit Blue Ridge Community College. The governor will see just how huge Joe's shoes will be to fill....with this "new appointment". and on that gorgeous campus, the governor will be staring straight into the face of the contribution, the sacrifice, the success, the LEGACY of Joe Spearman...and his fellow-travelers on the road of GOOD local education and community service.