Hundreds of friends, family, RCC employees and community members gathered at the Warsaw campus for a barbecue to honor Dr. Elizabeth (Sissy) Crowther as she ends her tenure as RCC’s president.
Dr. Elizabeth Crowther, the college’s third president, announced last fall that she is retiring at the end of June 2019, after serving in that role for 15 years.
Marlene Cralle (left) and Martha Rest (right) present a sweet, poetic tribute to Dr. Crowther at her retirement party
As a slideshow played in the background, guests enjoyed a casual atmosphere with Dr. Crowther. They relayed stories about her accomplishments, intellect and vision for the College and also remarked on her down-to-earth personality and varied interests.
Helen Murphy, a member of the founding RCC Local Board, remarked, “We’ve seen the College grow under the leadership of Sissy. It has been amazing. Now, I want to go sailing with her!”
Shirley Moore-Johnson, a long-time RCC employee said she will definitely miss Crowther’s leadership and friendship. “Back in 1991, we started together at RCC when she was a faculty member. On my first day, I was walking to the door and so was Dr. Crowther; I didn’t know at the time who she was, but it was the first day for both of us. I was so happy when she came back as president. Yes, I’m going to miss her being here.”
Patricia King remarked, “I lived outside of Warsaw at the time Sissy was hired as president and I knew of her family. They’ve been in the Northern Neck a long time. I got to know her when she became president and I invited her to meet people in the community. She’s a perfectly marvelous person and I believe she resurrected the College.”
Ellen and Peter Bennett, of Irvington, have known Crowther for many years. Both have served on various college committees. They agreed that one of Crowther’s greatest strengths is her ability to be flexible. “If nobody in the area is doing it, she gets the College to do it. She sees a need in the community and fulfills it.”
Larry Roberson, Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors, also sees Crowther’s ability to get things done for the community, stating, “She was instrumental in getting the welding program in Montross with Carry-On Trailers. This is a big boon for our local economy.”
As Dr. Crowther grew into her role as president, she started fostering young leaders and was a founder of LEAD Northern Neck. One young leader who has benefited by her guidance is Sam Louis Taylor, regional director for Senator Mark Warner,
Louis attended not only to represent the senator and send his best wishes, but as a friend of Crowther’s. “When I first moved to this area, the one person everyone said I should meet was Dr. Crowther. I’m grateful for the friendship and guidance she has shown me,” he stated.
Patricia Paige, New Kent Board of Supervisors and RCC Educational Foundation Board member, summed up the group sentiments best by remarking, “I’m impressed by her passion for education and her vision. It spills over to everybody. She’s a genuine person.”
Congressman Rob Wittman recognized Dr. Elizabeth Crowther’s achievement on May 18, when over 300 friends of Rappahannock Community College gathered at historic Grove Mount in Richmond County for the 15th Annual Preakness Party.
Wittman said, “After 15 years as president, Sissy will be leaving the College a better, stronger institution of higher education and learning…I ask you to join me in recognizing Dr. Crowther’s accomplishments as she ends her tenure as president,” Wittman read from the Congressional Record Extension of Remarks.
Dr. Elizabeth Crowther addresses the crowd at her retirement party
But amidst the accolades, resolutions, and laudatory speeches Crowther always remains humble and credits others. “I will miss the people,” she said. “I am surrounded by amazing people all day.”
Crowther passes the baton to Dr. Shannon L. Kennedy, who becomes RCC’s fourth president on July 1.
Dr. Shannon L. Kennedy has nearly 25 years of higher education experience and is a former television journalist.
She began her career at Gardner-Webb University, in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, in 1996 as a public relations assistant. She later worked at the college as an adjunct English professor and director of Foundation and Corporate Relations.
In 2000, she moved to Cleveland Community College, in Shelby, North Carolina to become the director of public relations and grants development. There, Kennedy has been promoted several times to positions including associate dean, dean, executive vice president of Instruction and Student Development, and to executive vice president.
She has served as an on-site reaffirmation committee member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) for eight institutions over the past seven years.
Kennedy earned a bachelor’s degree from Millersville University in Pennsylvania; a master’s degree from Appalachian State University; and a doctorate from North Carolina State University.
Kennedy becomes RCC’s fourth president on July 1.
To honor Dr. Crowther, the RCC Educational Foundation, Inc. (RCC EFI) Board established the Dr. Elizabeth H. Crowther Student Success Endowed Fund. The fund will make a significant impact to increase the number of students who stay on track to completion and successful transfer or job placement. The $2 million endowed goal is already half-way there.
RCC EFI Board President Rob Gates states, “Dr. Crowther has a true understanding of the challenges that our students face to attend classes, work, and raise families. She knows that high-touch advising and mentoring—along with affordability—increase our students’ retention and success. These efforts are important to Dr. Crowther, and an initiative for which we are privileged to raise funds in her honor.”
If you would like to honor Dr. Crowther with a donation to the fund, send a check to: RCC Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 923, Warsaw, VA 22572 with the memo line “Crowther Student Success Fund” or give online: rappahannock.edu/foundation.