Veteran Wayne Community College trustee Veda McNair has been awarded the State Board of Community College’s highest honor.
McNair, who has served as a WCC trustee since 2005, is the winner of the 2021 I.E. Ready Award.
The I.E. Ready Award was created in 1983 to recognize those who make significant contributions to the establishment, development, or enhancement of the community college system. It is named for Isaac Epps Ready, the first director of the North Carolina Community College System.
McNair is only the second community college trustee to receive the honor while serving. She joins Herman Porter, George Fouts, and Martin Lancaster – honorees with WCC connections – and educational luminaries such as Dallas Herring, William Friday, James B. Hunt Jr, Terry Sanford, and Robert Scott.
In announcing the award, the North Carolina Community College System called McNair “a crusader for community college education.”
“Trustee McNair is a prime example of a person who loves and supports her community college with all her heart and soul. She sets the standard that we all hope to achieve,” said State Board Chair Breeden Blackwell.
“The State Board knows that we can count on Trustee McNair to be our strongest advocate as we continue to make our needs known to the NC General Assembly and to the citizens of this great state,” Blackwell said. “She is truly deserving of this high honor.”
WCC Board of Trustees Vice Chair Geoff Hulse concurred. “Our college is a shining galaxy of stars and Mrs. McNair is one of the brightest of the bright. I love when she shares her passion and experience of both Wayne Community College and the entire NC Community College System. What a fabulous honor for a sensational public servant,” he said.
McNair described herself as “hopelessly humbled” and said “I will strive to live up to this great honor.”
Citing her experience as a public school administrator, WCC trustee, and member of the North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees (NCACCT) executive board, McNair said, “I feel I have had an opportunity to impact the 58 community colleges in North Carolina. I trust that impact has been positive.”
“As an advocate for higher education, I have always believed that the community college is the best kept secret in our communities. From Workforce Continuing Education programs to the Career and College Promise Program and Early Middle College to the conferring of various degrees, diplomas, and certificates, community colleges prepare students to be well equipped to enter the workforce as contributing citizens. All of this comes at a very affordable price,” McNair said.
McNair has chaired WCC’s Board of Trustees and served on many of the board’s committees, including the Curriculum Committee that she currently chairs. Her tenure on the board has crossed the administrations of three WCC presidents and she played a role in the installation of two of those presidents.
McNair often goes beyond simply attending board and committee meetings and takes roles in college events. In 2019, she was a member of the team that presented WCC’s Clearing a Path to Student Success Initiative to a judging panel of national experts at the Community College Futures Assembly in San Antonio, Texas when the strategy was named a finalist for a Bellwether Award.
WCC President Thomas A. Walker Jr. called her “the perfect combination of expert and servant.”
“Like Dr. Ready, Mrs. McNair is a ‘steadying influence,’ not just for me as I benefit from her myriad educational experiences and insight, but also for this college’s Board of Trustees, the trustees at other colleges she labors for and interacts with, and the other educational organizations of which she is an active member,” Walker said.
McNair has been on the NCACCT Executive Board for more than a decade, serving in several leadership roles and currently co-chairing its Quality Training/Seminars Committee. A frequent panelist at statewide meetings, McNair spoke at the association’s 2019 Leadership Seminar, “Stopping Community College Stigma,” which was turned into a nationally-broadcast podcast.
“She brings compassion and a strategic approach to addressing issues that impact our colleges,” said Julie C. Woodson, NCACCT president and chief executive officer. “Ms. McNair has the ability to bring together varying viewpoints to build consensus and always keeps ‘what is best for the students’ at the forefront of her discussion and deliberations. She is extremely deserving of the I.E. Ready award.”
McNair held various positions in public schools in Baltimore, Maryland, Wake County, North Carolina, and Wayne County, NC for more than 40 years. Her last post was Eastern Wayne Elementary School. Despite being “retired,” she has been employed part-time by Communities Supporting Schools of Wayne County as a Success Coach at Spring Creek High School since 2012.
Her accolades during her public school career include being named Wayne County Principal of the Year and to Who’s Who in American Education. She was a regular presenter at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Closing the Achievement Gap Conference, appeared in a video on literacy sponsored by that same department, and served on the Governor’s One-on-One Mentoring Program Board.
“I know I am not the only trustee who regularly benefits from her lifetime in education,” said WCC Trustees Chair Donnie Barnes. “We know that when she speaks about the needs and desires of young people and potential students, Mrs. McNair is sharing personal knowledge. All of our state’s community colleges profit from the expertise Mrs. McNair pours into her work.”
“Whoever she has for an audience – students, parents, friends, her husband’s congregation, community members, local legislators, or fellow educators – Veda tells them the community college story. She is equally comfortable and confident sharing her thoughts on faculty pay parity with a U.S. senator as she is helping a high school student see that he can take his education to the next level at community college,” her nomination packet said.
She is a member of the Phi Delta Kappa International professional organization for educators and has served as a local, regional, and state officer in the Delta Kappa Gamma Society for Key Women Educators.
McNair gives her time to the Holy Ghost Drawing Center Crisis Center and to Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro-Wayne where she has been a board member for eight years.
She also volunteers in various capacities, including singing in the senior and gospel choirs, leading the youth choir, and advising the mime ministry, for New Stoney Hill Holy Church for which her husband, Elder H.E. McNair, is the pastor, as well as assists other ministries.