After 30 years in education, Richmond Community College Registrar Wanda Watts is retiring in this month.
For the past 10 years, she has served as college registrar and been at the hub of numerous registrations and graduations making sure processes run efficiently.
A graduate of what was RCC’s Executive Secretary program; she began her career filling two roles: one as a library assistant and another as a secretary in the job placement office. She served as administrative assistant to the vice president for student services for eight years. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Gardner-Webb University, she spent several years working as a coordinator with internship, job placement, and childcare programs.
Early on, administrators recognized her gift for technology and included her in a group of employees learning how to operate Radio Shack TRS-80s.
“Instead of typing the library’s overdue list each week, I put the list on a computer floppy disk and put it in the computer each week to update it,” said Watts. “It saved lots of time. That started my part-time teaching career. I was chosen because I was putting into practice what I’d learned in the classroom. It was interesting having the secretarial instructors I’d studied under in my classroom learning the software so they could teach it next.”
When asked about the greatest changes she has witnessed at RCC, she credited RCC President Joe Grimsley with having a tremendous impact on the future of what was then Richmond Technical Institute.
“He spurred the transition to becoming a technical and then a community college,” said Watts. “We became more technology-oriented, which was the going thing at that time. Students were not interested in enrolling in vocational courses, which declined. We’ve come full circle today and find the college putting those programs back on the roster because people recognize the value of them and see the need is there.”
As the college has grown, so have the number of graduates. A decade ago, around 150 students would qualify for graduation. Last year, there were 280 graduates. She anticipates over 300 graduates in May as the charter classes of the early college high schools complete their associate degrees.
“I didn’t know what to expect when those ninth graders arrived on campus, but I am so proud of those young people,” she said. “I’ve already worked with their college liaisons to make sure they are on target and ready to go.”
A registrar’s role is important on a college campus. She has rejoiced with students completing all requirements for graduation and cried with those who have fallen short. She leaves behind big shoes to fill.
Watt’s plans to enjoy her grandchildren and take time to travel during her retirement.