The Burke Chamber welcomes Dr. Michael S. Helmick as the new president of Western Piedmont Community College. Dr. Helmick succeeds Dr. Jim Burnett as the sixth president of WPCC.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to serve Western Piedmont Community College as the next president of the institution,” said Dr. Helmick. “I look forward to continuing the outstanding legacy of Dr. Jim Burnett, and I am pleased to be returning to WPCC to work with the exemplary faculty and staff who serve the needs of the students in the region.” Dr. Helmick assumed his new role on August 1.
Dr. Helmick’s appointment represents a homecoming,of sorts. He had previously served as vice president of academic affairs at Western Piedmont. During that time, he supported establishment of the Burke County Manufacturers Association (now the Burke Manufacturers Executive Council), helped to increase student enrollment over 20 percent in curriculum areas, developed new programming and cooperative agreements with Burke County Schools, and worked on several college-wide initiatives including the long range plan, the facilities master plan, employee salary plan and as a team leader for the Richardson Complex Visioning Project.
“My wife, Melinda, and I look forward to renewing past relationships in Burke County and once again becoming active members of the community,” he said.
Dr. Helmick had been president of Rockingham Community College in Wentworth, N.C., since March of 2011. Among other accomplishments during his tenure there, Dr. Helmick raised private and public funds to develop a Simulated Hospital, a Center for Creative Woodworking, an advanced welding training facility and a state-of-the-art fabrication lab to train workers for the welding and metal fabrication industries. He also worked with a regional conservation foundation to develop new hiking trails on the college’s campus and established the first Brewing, Distillation and Fermentation community college program in the United States.
Before Western Piedmont Community College, Dr. Helmick served as a vice president of academic affairs at Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort, S.C., dean of technical education at Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tenn., director of the Institute for Business and Industry Training and Tech Prep at Northeast State Technical Community College in Blountville, Tenn., and assistant principal in the Washington County Virginia Public School in Abingdon, Va. He also has experience as a small business owner and CAD drafter at Tennessee Eastman Company in Kingsport.
“Dr. Helmick brings a diverse range of experiences and skills to Western Piedmont that we know will take Western Piedmont to the next level in providing higher education and workforce development opportunities to Burke County,” said Ron Martin, chairman of the Search Committee. “We had a very qualified pool of candidates to apply for the presidency of Western Piedmont, but Dr. Helmick’s existing knowledge of the community and college, innovative approach to programming and the shared potential he sees in the future of the College set him apart and in line to be our next leaders.”