Governor to Speak at GBCC Ceremony Commemorating 70 Years of Student Success

11/02/2015 by Lisa Proulx

PORTSMOUTH – To celebrate their 70thAnniversary, Great Bay Community College is hosting an event on Thursday, November 5th to honor student success and commemorate the opening of the College’s new Student Success Center. Featured speaker, Governor Maggie Hassan will address a crowd of honored guests, faculty, staff, and students beginning at 4:30PM in the College gymnasium at the College’s campus in Portsmouth at the Pease Tradeport. Festivities will also include a ceremonial ribbon cutting and tours of the new center. Following the event, GBCC’s new men’s basketball team, the Herons, will play their first home game in the new gym vs. Northern Essex Community College at 7:30PM.

“We are extremely proud to be celebrating the successes of our current and former students” said Great Bay Community College President Will Arvelo.  “For the past 70 years, Great Bay Community College has played a significant role in responding to economic need by building a skilled workforce and ultimately improving the lives of citizens and their communities throughout the Seacoast and New Hampshire.”

Great Bay Community College first opened its doors in 1945 in Portsmouth with the primary mission of providing trade school facilities for veterans demobilized from the armed services.  In 1982, they re-located to Stratham and became New Hampshire Technical College and, in 2009, moved to the Pease Tradeport. Since 1945, they have evolved to offer over 50 degree and certificate programs preparing students for direct-entry into the workforce or advanced degrees at many 4-year institutions.

In August of this year, GBCC opened the new 20,000 square foot Student Success Center that houses a gymnasium, student lounge area, fitness center, a concession area for games, and space for clubs, and organizations to meet. “The much needed new space has created opportunities for enhanced student activities including leadership and mentoring programs, civic engagement, athletics, and space for co-curricular programming related to programs of study and areas of student interest.” said Mike Fischer Associate Vice President of Student Affairs.  The new center will also provide the College with space to host college-wide events including Convocation and Orientation and Commencement.

As part of Thursday’s event, the College will also announce the first inductees into the Great Bay Community College Hall of Fame.  The individual and partner inductees were each selected for the pivotal role they played in the establishment of the College, its evolution and advancement of mission over the past 70 years.  

Individual Inductees Include:


Emerson A. McCourt (Posthumously) - Appointed the Principal of the NH Trade School in Portsmouth in 1945, and later  Director of the NH Technical Institute in Portsmouth and President of the NH Vocational Technical College in Portsmouth. 

Dr. Jane Power Kilcoyne - The first woman president within the NH Technical College System, who expanded critical workforce programs in Health, Business, Information Technology and Biotechnology, established the College’s Business and Training Center.

Diane King - Led the development of transferable course work and developed the College’s original student success program. King also led the College’s continued emphasis on articulation and worked to build a cohesive teaching and learning environment.

Mary Williams - Supported the college as Human Resource Director and Administrative Assistant for seven CCSNH Presidents as well as supporting all programming and departments as a liaison for the President and Community College System of New Hampshire.

Stanley Plodziki, Jr - An instructor and Chairman of the Nursing Department at New Hampshire Vocational Technical College who was instrumental in developing the College’s LPN program and the subsequent transition from the College’s Licensed Practical Nursing Program to an Associate Degree in Nursing.

David Veno (In-Absentia) - The College’s first Dean of Student Affairs, who oversaw Student Life, Recruitment, and Financial Aid and who focused on creating opportunities for engagement for both the adult working student and a burgeoning traditional age college student populations. 


Mary E. Carey Dondero - Mayor/State Representative who spearheaded the effort to amend a bill to include ‘the establishment of two Vocational Schools’ and was instrumental in establishing The New Hampshire Trade School in Portsmouth.

W. Douglas Scamman (Posthumously) Served seven terms in the NH House of Representatives and was Speaker of the House in 1957-1958.  While serving, he introduced House Resolution #279/ An Act Relative to the Establishment of Area Vocational Schools and State Trade Schools.

The Portsmouth School Department, the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion-Franke E. Booma Post 6, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 168 - All served on the founding committee established by Portsmouth Mayor Mary Carey Dondero. 

Organizational Inductees include:

Toyota Technical Education Network – As a corporate partner, the Toyota TTEN Technical Education Network was the first formal auto manufacturer’s partnership in the NH Technical College System. It fostered student success by enabling students to earn an Associate Degree and develop a direct pipeline from college to dealerships.  The partnership also strengthened the College’s contributions to workforce development in the region.