Source: Wallace State Community College
Wallace State Community College mourns the loss of longtime former President Dr. James C. Bailey, who passed away during the early morning hours of Friday, October 18, 2013.
Dr. Bailey served as president of Wallace State for 32 years, from 1971 to 2003, retiring on April 30, 2013.
"Wallace State is deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Bailey," said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Hawsey Karolewics. "We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family."
Dr. Bailey's career in education spanned 43 years. He got his start teaching at Fairview High School in 1960. When Dr. Ben Johnson was appointed the first president of Wallace State in 1965 – then called Wallace State Trade School -- Bailey joined the faculty as an instructor.
One of the first challenges Dr. Bailey faced as president was preventing Wallace State from becoming a vocational high school, because the trade school had not been an immediate success.
He oversaw the college's initial SACS accreditation. During his tenure, Wallace State became known as a leader in the field of health care education, offering more associate degree allied health programs than any other college in the state.
Dr. Bailey credited state senator Bob Wilson for helping the school get the initial funding it needed to expand from a trade school to a community college. But it was Frances Mauldin Dodd, who served as director of development before she passed away, who worked most closely with Bailey in aggressively pursuing federal funding opportunities that allowed the campus to grow into the college it would become, the crown jewel of the Alabama Community College System. To recognize her contribution, Bailey directed that the main thoroughfare running through campus be named in her honor in 2002.
In addition to the James C. Bailey Center, the recently renovated 13-story building, Dr. Bailey was most proud of Tom Drake Coliseum, a $12 million complex, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2003. It became a draw for bringing many large events to campus, most notably the Alabama High School Athletic Association's Northwest Regional High School Basketball Tournament, which continues to draw an annual attendance of approximately 25,000 visitors.
Having attended college on an athletic scholarship himself, Dr. Bailey believed in the role athletics played not only in a comprehensive college experience, but also in allowing talented students, who might not otherwise be able to attend college, to pursue an academic career. And so he assured that, in addition to being academically strong, the college was also athletically strong, a tradition Dr. Hawsey Karolewics has continued.
Dr. Bailey took over as athletic director in 1982 and held that role until his retirement. At his retirement, and to date, the college has won more Alabama Community College All-Sports Trophies than any other college.
By 2003, Dr. Bailey had transformed the college from a trade school that consisted of 10 programs housed in three buildings on 20 acres of land to a community college offering an array of academic transfer, health care, and technical programs in 35 plus buildings on property covering more than 200 acres.
"I have dedicated much of my life to building this college," he said upon retirement. "It's a good note to leave on."
"Wallace State will be forever indebted to Dr. Bailey for his dedication to this college, and his legacy will live on forever in the facilities and programs he established," said Dr. Hawsey Karolewics.
Dr. Bailey's family has established a scholarship in his name through the Wallace State Future Foundation. Contributions may be made online at www.wsccfuturefoundation.org.
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