As the chair of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners in 1964, Richard Conder was instrumental in the founding of Richmond Technical Institute.
As the institution has grown — and changed names twice — Conder has remained a fixture in the development of Richmond Community College as he moved from the county board to leadership roles in the North Carolina Senate and the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
Conder currently serves as the president of the RCC Foundation Board.
But the creation of RCC almost did not happen back in 1964 as the state backtracked on a promise it had made to Richmond and Scotland counties.
“The state didn’t want to build two community colleges within 50 miles of each other. The college that we were supposed to get ended up going to Moore County,” said Conder. “Instead of a college, the state gave us a technical institute because of the groundwork that had already been laid.”
Richmond Technical Institute became Richmond Technical College in 1980. The name was changed again to Richmond Community College in 1987 when the college was authorized to offer Associates in Arts and Science degrees that transferred to four-year institutions.
But for Conder, the actual path of the college has been optimal for the economic development of Richmond and Scotland counties.
“From the beginning the people of Richmond and Scotland counties have supported the college,” said Conder. “They knew how important education was to the people and their children and that having a college here would create jobs. They knew that it was, and continues to be, critical to economic development.
“There were a lot of people involved back at the beginning, but Dr. Stan Vetter deserves a lot of credit. He worked very hard on the bond drive that raised the money for the construction of the first buildings at the college,” said Conder.
“Senator Conder and the other community leaders at the time set a precedent for support by the county for the college,” said RCC President Dale McInnis. “He then played a key role in the growth of RCC over the last five decades.”
Conder was in the Senate and helped secured state funding for campus expansion in the 1980s.
“Without Richard Conder, we would not have this building that bears his names (the J. Richard Conder Learning Resources Center) or the L. G. and Carrie B. DeWitt Computer Center,” said McInnis. “He and G.R. Kindley also played a key role in the Forte Building project.”
“This college is an ongoing success story for this community,” said Conder. “I am proud of how much it has grown over the last 50 years and I am very optimistic of the direction the current leadership is taking it.”