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The Day joins all of eastern Connecticut in congratulating Grace S. Jones, president of Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, as the 62nd Annual Citizen of the Year Award recipient. She will be honored during this evening's gala at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut presents the award annually to recognize an individual for his or her contributions to the civic and business community. Going by that criteria, Dr. Jones is a most appropriate honoree.
Under her direction since 2001, Three Rivers Community College has played a vital role in helping citizens pursue their American dream. Poor, minority and first-generation immigrant students have utilized an associate's degree from the community college as a stepping-stone to a four-year degree or as an entry into the job market. The school helps those displaced by an ever-changing job market find the training for a new career, while also filling the need for those who simply have a thirst for lifelong learning.
Dr. Jones is a tireless advocate for community colleges and the vital role they play. She is ever watchful to assure that the Three Rivers course selections and degrees lineup with the current job demands and opportunities. Three Rivers today is bursting with about 5,150 full- and part-time students in its credit courses and more than 2,000 registered in non-credit courses.
When Dr. Jones became the college's president, the state and local community had for several years debated and often disagreed over a proposal to consolidate the college's two campuses. While tactfully avoiding allying herself with any one side in the debate over where to build a new campus, she nevertheless tenaciously pushed for a resolution. In 2003 the legislature approved $75 million for the renovation and consolidation of Three Rivers at its current campus on New London Turnpike.
"It's about southeastern Connecticut. The citizens deserve it," said Dr. Jones on the day the Board of Trustees for Community Colleges unanimously endorsed the plan.
Dr. Jones has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the chamber of commerce, The William W. Backus board, the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Bureau and as a Liberty Bank director, to name a few.
Tonight's award is an honor well deserved.