CUMBERLAND, Ky. (WYMT) - For more than two and a half decades, Doctor Bruce Ayers led Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Harlan County.
Friday night's 48th annual Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College commencement was special for many students, but was a milestone for Dr. Bruce Ayers.
He's seen thousands wear the cap and gown, but Friday night he sent his last graduating class into the workforce.
“We're not replacing him we are just hiring a new president because I don't think we could find a person that could walk in his shoes,” said Chairman of SKCTC Board, Reecie Stagnolia.
Dr. Ayers will retire in June, and at a reception in his honor, friends and co-workers took a trip down memory lane.
“Those of us who knew Bruce when he was 19 or 20 we didn't know what to call it but we knew that Bruce had that it,” said KCTCS Board Chairman, P.G. Peeples Sr.
Even Dr. Ayers recalled a few funny moments in his career, one of them being his first commencement ceremony.
“I was very, very nervous and we went through everything, and I was ready to conclude the ceremonies without awarding the diplomas,” said Ayers.
During his time as President Ayers opened four extended campuses, and even placed the college among the top 10 community colleges in the nation.
“It just represents the community. Everywhere you go in this college, you see the community, and that's what he's done is reach out to the community,” said KCTCS President, Dr. Michael B. McCall.
“I hope I have been able to accomplish a few things. I know so much has been given to me. Really more has been given to me than I have given to this college or community,” said Ayers.
And that is something he says will always be thankful for.
Ayers will retire on June 30th. The school has narrowed down the search for his replacement to three finalists.