Richard J.M. Thomas

Richard J.M. Thomas is the recipient of the BCC President’s Award, given to the graduate who has achieved the highest cumulative academic average with the most hours earned. 


Brunswick Community College had a special commencement for the 2020 graduation class Friday, July 24, at Odell Williamson Auditorium.

Adhering to Gov. Roy Cooper’s social distancing guidelines during the new coronavirus pandemic, BCC graduated one student at a time to honor and celebrate the student’s achievements. Masks were required for graduation candidates and their two guests.

While social distancing, graduation candidates walked through the OWA entrance, into the auditorium and across the OWA stage to accept their diploma. The two guests were allowed to walk with the graduation candidate and stand in front of the stage as the graduation candidate received the diploma. The ceremony was divided into five groups, one hour apart.

BCC President Dr. Gene Smith handed diplomas to the graduation candidates. Also on stage were Dr. Lois Smith, executive vice president, chief academic officer, and Greg Bland, vice president, Continuing Education, Economic and Workforce Development.

The following graduation candidates received special honors:

n John Paul King, Distinguished Alumni Award. This award is presented to a graduate who has earned an associate degree with at least 75% of their coursework completed at Brunswick Community College. “The accomplishment of this degree or diploma will have launched a career of significant contribution to the educational, intellectual, cultural, scientific, economic or social well-being of his or her community.”

n Richard J. T. Thomas, President’s Award. This award is presented to the graduate who has achieved the highest cumulative academic average with the most hours earned at Brunswick Community College.

n Isabella Stewart, Academic Excellence Award. The recipient “exemplifies an outstanding success story in academic achievement.” The North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents sponsors this award.

n Caleb Karem, Dallas Herring Achievement Award. The North Carolina Community College System established the award in 2010 to honor Dr. Dallas Herring, one of the state’s earliest advocates of community colleges. The award is bestowed annually upon a current or former student who best embodies Herring’s philosophy of “taking people where they are and carrying them as far as they can go.”

n Cara Bailey, Robert W. Scott Leadership Award. The award was established in 2004 in honor of the former governor who served from 1969-73 and later as president of the North Carolina Community College System from 1983-95. The award is bestowed upon students who demonstrate leadership on a statewide level.

For those graduates unable to participate in the commencement, they may pick up their diplomas on or after July 27 in Building A, Office of Student Services, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon Friday. The college also will mail diplomas to a verified mailing address. For more information, call 910-755-7305.