George B. Vaughan, a former president of Piedmont Virginia Community College who died recently, is being remembered for his leadership and vision that helped shape community college education across the country.
Vaughan, who served as president of Piedmont from 1977 to 1988, died Jan. 7 after an extended illness at the age of 88.
A native Virginian, Vaughan graduated from Fries High School, Emory & Henry College, Radford University and Florida State University, where he received a Ph.D., according to a news release provided by his longtime friend and colleague Charles Dassance.
“He dedicated his professional life to community college education and became recognized nationally as a community college president, prolific author and teacher,” Dassance wrote.
Per the release, Vaughan was the founding president of Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap before becoming president of PVCC.
Vaughan was the author or editor of a dozen books and wrote more than 100 professional articles, all focusing on community college education, according to his obituary.
His work led him to be recognized as a national authority on the community college presidency. One of his publications dealt with the development of the Virginia Community College System. And for more than 10 years, he served as editor of the Community College Review, a national journal for community college leaders.
“George Vaughan provided the vision and leadership that launched PVCC on the path to become a leading community college in Virginia and the nation,” said current Piedmont President Frank Friedman. “Much of what PVCC is today is because of his vision.”
Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, said that as a founder of a community college, Vaughan “... provided great leadership to PVCC and brought to life the magnificent potential of community colleges across America.”
According to Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, Vaughan’s contributions cannot be overstated.
“In both practice and theory, [Vaughan] was a visionary,” Bumphus said. “As the nation’s community colleges became increasingly complex institutions, George’s insight to develop curriculum set the stage for many leadership programs. These principles are still relevant and useful for today’s leaders and are a testament to his extraordinary vision.”
Bumphus said he was fortunate to serve with Vaughan on the AACC’s board from 1993 to 1995, and was “able to witness first-hand his ability to lead leaders to advance the nation’s community colleges.”
“Both personally and professionally, [Vaughan] has left a deep imprint on the community college landscape and he will be greatly missed,” DuBois said. “His legacy lives on in the community college leaders of today and tomorrow.”
Vaughan was named one of the most effective community college presidents in the United States, and two of his books won national awards, according to his obituary. After leaving PVCC, he became a tenured professor at George Mason University, and then at the University of Florida. He ended his professional career at North Carolina State University. He and his wife, Peggy, retired to Charlottesville.
In 2015, Vaughan was honored at a special reception at PVCC where it was announced that the George B. Vaughan Leadership Award was being created by the Virginia Community College System to honor his contributions to community college education, especially in Virginia. The endowment created for the award funds a recognition program each year for outstanding adjunct faculty at the state’s community colleges.
“One of Vaughan’s essays compared the open-door philosophy of community colleges to the symbol of the Statue of Liberty, which greeted millions of new Americans at Ellis Island,” Dassance wrote of his friend. “The boy from Fries, Virginia, who achieved much in his life, never lost his passion for opening educational opportunities to every American.”
Vaughan is survived by two sons and four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, his family requests donations be made to the George B. Vaughan Leadership Fund of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.