Griffin family roots run deep at Durham Tech

Photo by: Briana Brough

When Ted Griffin walked onto Durham Technical Community College’s campus in 1974, it was a different atmosphere.

“The campus was stark,” Griffin said. “You could tell it was getting the crumbs and leftovers of the educational dollars. I don’t see that today – it’s evolved into an attractive campus.”

Griffin’s late father, William Kimball Griffin, served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 1974 to 1994 and was the first generation of the family with ties to the school. During his tenure, the College experienced significant growth.They also hired former President Phail Wynn, Jr. in 1980.

“Dr. Wynn’s academic credentials coupled with his service to his country helped form a connection to my Dad and Durham Tech students,” Griffin said. “Both of them were from humble beginnings which aided them in relating to students who often times have to work one or two jobs to make it all happen.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Ted Griffin served on the Durham Tech Foundation Board of Directors from 2001 to 2013.

“I’ve seen Durham Tech transition from a technical training school to continuing education to a higher education institution,” Griffin said. “I also see it as a platform where one can do a ‘do over’ or begin their higher educational journey. I see duality there, technical school and educational school of higher learning. Both are very valuable, very needed, and at a very good price point. In short, Durham Tech is simply a good bang for your buck!”

Ted’s wife, Susan, shared the family’s passion for the College and served on the Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2015. During her tenure, she helped hire current Durham Tech president, Dr. Bill Ingram.

“Bill has continued to carry on the vision of his predecessors as well as ably leading Durham Tech into the next millenium,” Susan Griffin said. “Durham Tech is a much different place today than it was 50 years ago.”

“When our children were growing up, students would say they were ‘undecided’ about school rather than say they were going to Durham Tech,” Susan Griffin said. “But today that has changed. The word is getting out to the community at large that Durham Tech is a really great place to be.”

Their son Nelson enrolled in 2001. He earned an Associates in Arts in 2003, transferred to the University of North Carolina and then earned two master’s degrees, one at Ole’ Miss and the other at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland. Nelson now teaches 3- to 6-year-olds at Maria Montessori School in Memphis, Tennessee. According to his dad, Nelson credits Durham Tech with providing a solid foundation.

“He was able to graduate from UNC Chapel Hill with honors and distinction because he was very well prepared at Durham Tech,” Ted Griffin said.

Nelson’s younger sister, Emmy, enrolled in 2002 before transferring to UNC. She was able to connect with instructors at Durham Tech, especially in the Spanish Department who spurred her passion to major in Latin American Studies at UNC. She will readily confess that her time at Durham Tech was her favorite.

The Griffins are proud of the College’s deep roots within their family.

“Durham Tech made a difference in our lives. It gave Susan and me an opportunity to be of service to the community,” Ted Griffin said. “It’s an educational mission that we both believe in and we’ve committed time, talent and treasure to what Durham Tech is all about. It changes people’s lives.”

Ted believes Durham Tech will continue to have a profound impact on the future of Durham and Orange counties, as well as society at large.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a Rhodes Scholar from Durham Tech,” Ted Griffin said. “It’s highly probable that someone will walk the halls of Durham Tech who raises the human condition.”