Greenville Tech chief praised for 41 years building school

Greenville Tech chief praised for 41 years building school
Posted Friday, January 31, 2003 - 12:17 am

By E. Richard Walton
STAFF WRITER
[email protected]

Thoms E. Barton Jr., the only president of Greenville Technical College for its
41 years, was credited Thursday night with taking a school with 200 students
once located on a city dump to a premier learning center with 44,000 students.
The evening was part tribune to Barton, part a fund-raiser for Charter High
School, the 400 pupil school located on Tech's campus.
"Dr. Barton is the longest serving president of any college president in the
United States," said J. Walter Brashier, the evening's master of ceremonies.
"Dr. Barton has lead Greenville Tech to the third largest college in the
state."
U.S. Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C., said he approached Barton about starting
a school to teach skilled trades after seeing one in Dayton, Ohio, in 1954.
"This gentleman here really made it work," Hollings said to about 400 guests at
a black tie event the Palmetto Expo Center.
The site the college started up at in 1962 was then used to dispose of city
garbage, several people said.
"We prefer to call it the city archives," Greenville Mayor Knox White joked.
Calling Barton, 73, "the number one citizen in Greenville," White gave Barton
the "Order of the Poinsettia." "He has been remarkable generation after
generation," he said.
Peter Selleck, chief operating officer for Michelin North America, said the
tire manufacturer moved to Greenville, in part, because it knew it could get
trained workers from the school. "That's a remarkable achievement," he said
about this then little known outpost.
Greenville Tech also trains aircraft mechanics for Lockheed Martin Aircraft.
"Thousand of people in the Upstate depend have depended on Greenville Tech for
training," David J. Posek, president of Lockheed Martin Aircraft & Logistics
Centers.
Barton spoke at the end.
"I'm overwhelmed. I'm really overwhelmed," he said. "But I'll get over it," he
joked. The former gridiron star credited his mother, and his Clemson football
coach for his success. He stressed hundreds worked alongside him.
"If you have that kind of total cooperation, you ought to win," he said. His
primary mantras: "find a way to get it done."
E. Richard Walton can be reached at 298-4317.

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