Happy 60th Anniversary, A-B Tech

Man with three students beside A-B Tech sign in 1960s
October 2, 2019
Tech Talk

We are celebrating the 60th anniversary of A-B Tech this academic year and will be featuring highlights and photos each month from the College’s history as part of the celebration. This month is a feature on the very start.

In the 1950s, leaders in the region saw the need for more diversified and less expensive education than four-year colleges. Industry was growing in the area and skilled workers were needed to fill positions.

The Asheville-Buncombe Industrial Education Center, later to become Asheville-Buncombe Technical Institute, was made possible by a bond election in 1959 designating $300,000 for site development and construction of buildings.  Two modern buildings, providing 30,000 square feet of floor space, were constructed on a twenty-acre tract of land on Victoria Road owned by the Asheville City Board of Education.

During its first four years of existence the Center operated under the administration of the Asheville City Board of Education.  Floyd P. Gehres was the original director, serving until October 1960, when he resigned to accept a teaching position and was replaced by Thomas W. Simpson.

Many organizations and individuals were instrumental in events leading to the establishment of the Center, and the first executive advisory committee was composed of persons whose leadership in this respect had been outstanding.  The members of the first advisory committee were:  L. F. Zerfoss, Director of Industrial Relations at American Enka Corporation, Chairman; John M. Barnes, Manager of Personnel Services at Champion Paper; Coke Candler, Chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners; J. Gerald Cowan, Wachovia Bank and Trust Company; E. C. Funderburk, Superintendent of Asheville City Schools; and T. C. Roberson, Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools.

Construction of the first two buildings was completed during the summer of 1961 and classes started in September of that year.  Up until this time certain classes, largely of a short-term nature, were being conducted in temporary quarters.

Pictured - Former Math Instructor and dean of Arts and Sciences, Thomas Gaffigan, shows a group of students a sign for the newly established Asheville-Buncombe Technical Institute. Gaffigan retired from the College after 32 years of service.

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