A-B Tech 2018 Commencement Honors Graduates, Faculty and Employees

May 23, 2018
Tech Talk

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer Delivers Address

A-B Tech's 2018 Commencement ceremonies were held May 12 in the U.S. Cellular Center, with highlights including an address by Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer and an honorary degree for retiring Mars Hill University President Dr. Dan Lunsford.

A-B Tech President Dennis King and Board of Trustees Chair Mary Anne Rice presided over the ceremony, where Lunsford received an Honorary Associate of Applied Science Degree in Educational Leadership. He previously earned a bachelor's from Mars Hill College and master's and doctorate in education degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Lunsford is retiring from Mars Hill University after 16 years as President. He previously served as Dean of the School of Education and Leadership and Acting Chair of the Department of Education. Before entering higher education, Lunsford also was Superintendent of Henderson County Public Schools.

A-B Tech awarded more than 1,350 degrees, diplomas and certificates during the 2017-18 academic year, and 539 students took part in the commencement ceremony. This year's commencement also marked the first graduating class for the Occupational Therapy Assistant two-year degree program that began in Fall 2016.

Manheimer reminded graduates of their achievements and encouraged them to give thanks to all who assisted them in earning a college degree. “As you graduate today with this accomplishment, you also become reintroduced to society as an even greater-contributing part of the rich fabric that makes up Western North Carolina,” she said.  

Manheimer also lauded A-B Tech's role in the community. “I have personally seen, first-hand, the role that A-B Tech plays in regional economic development.  A-B Tech is part of the recruiting team that hosts large companies who are considering locating or growing, right here, in Western North Carolina." 

Four A-B Tech employees also were honored during the ceremony:  

  • Lisa Johnson, retiring Director of the Writing Center, was named Professor Emeritus, becoming the fourth person to receive the distinction since the program was established in 2017. Johnson started her career at A-B Tech in 1989 as am English Instructor. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Carolina University in English Education. She completed all her coursework to earn a doctorate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
  • Jason Fair, Director of A-B Tech South, was named Staff Member of the Year. Hired in December 2012 to open that location, Fair has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Western Carolina University and recently earned his doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Clemson University.
  • Jim Sullivan, Department Chair for Geomatics, Environmental and Civil Engineering, was named Faculty Member of the Year. Hired in 2000 as a Continuing Education instructor, Sullivan became department chair in 2006 and developed the college's first Environmental Engineering Technology degree program.  He earned his associate degree from Santa Fe Community College, his bachelor’s from the University of Florida and his master’s degree from Western Carolina University.
  • Barbara Butcher was named Continuing Education Instructor of the Year. She has been a continuing education instructor since August 1999, where she teaches short-term training programs. Since 2015, she has taught Electronic Health Records Certification and Office Professional Certification. She has a degree from A-B Tech in Business Computers.

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