Dr. James C. Bailey[1]

HANCEVILLE, AL–Wallace State Community College mourns the loss of longtime former President Dr. James C. Bailey, who passed away during the early morning hours of Friday, October 18, 2013.

Dr. Bailey served as president of Wallace State for 32 years, from 1971 to 2003, retiring on April 30, 2003.

“Wallace State is deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Bailey,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Hawsey Karolewics. “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family.”

Dr. Bailey’s career in education spanned 43 years. He got his start teaching at Fairview High School in 1960. When Dr. Ben Johnson was appointed the first president of Wallace State in 1965 – then called Wallace State Trade School — Bailey joined the faculty as an instructor.

One of the first challenges Dr. Bailey faced as president was preventing Wallace State from becoming a vocational high school, because the trade school had not been an immediate success.

He oversaw the college’s initial SACS accreditation. During his tenure, Wallace State became known as a leader in the field of health care education, offering more associate degree allied health programs than any other college in the state.

Dr. Bailey credited state senator Bob Wilson for helping the school get the initial funding it needed to expand from a trade school to a community college. But it was Frances Mauldin Dodd, who served as director of development before she passed away, who worked most closely with Bailey in aggressively pursuing federal funding opportunities that allowed the campus to grow into the college it would become, the crown jewel of the Alabama Community College System. To recognize her contribution, Bailey directed that the main thoroughfare running through campus be named in her honor in 2002.

In addition to the James C. Bailey Center, the recently renovated 13-story building, Dr. Bailey was most proud of Tom Drake Coliseum, a $12 million complex, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2003. It became a draw for bringing many large events to campus, most notably the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Northwest Regional High School Basketball Tournament, which continues to draw an annual attendance of approximately 25,000 visitors.

Having attended college on an athletic scholarship himself, Dr. Bailey believed in the role athletics played not only in a comprehensive college experience, but also in allowing talented students, who might not otherwise be able to attend college, to pursue an academic career.  And so he assured that, in addition to being academically strong, the college was also athletically strong, a tradition Dr. Hawsey Karolewics has continued.

Dr. Bailey took over as athletic director in 1982 and held that role until his retirement.  At his retirement, and to date, the college has won more Alabama Community College All-Sports Trophies than any other college.

By 2003, Dr. Bailey had transformed the college from a trade school that consisted of 10 programs housed in three buildings on 20 acres of land to a community college offering an array of academic transfer, health care, and technical programs in 35 plus buildings on property covering more than 200 acres.

“I have dedicated much of my life to building this college,” he said upon retirement. “It’s a good note to leave on.”

“Wallace State will be forever indebted to Dr. Bailey for his dedication to this college, and his legacy will live on forever in the facilities and programs he established,” said Dr. Hawsey Karolewics.

Dr. Bailey’s family has established a scholarship in his name through the Wallace State Future Foundation.  Contributions may be made online at www.wsccfuturefoundation.org.

Dr. James C. Bailey[1]

Biographical Sketch of Dr. James C. Bailey

Dr. James C. Bailey served as the second president of Wallace State from 1971 to 2003. “Jake,” as he was affectionately known by his friends and colleagues, grew up in the Fairview community. He graduated from Fairview High School, he received his Bachelor of Arts and his Master of Arts Degrees in Education from Athens State, his AA certification from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and his Ed.D. in Administration from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

His successful teaching career and growing reputation as an innovator in education led to his appointment as President of Wallace State. At that time, Wallace State consisted of eleven instructors, ten departments, and 59 students. Under Dr. Bailey’s leadership and guidance, the student body now numbers approximately 6,000 with 35 buildings on a campus of 250 acres. It is one of the fastest growing colleges in the Alabama College System. James C. Bailey’s philosophy that “students come first” and that “emphasis should be placed on community involvement” enhanced the educational opportunities in our state.

He was a past two-time president of the Alabama College System Presidents’ Association, a member of the Athens State University Advisory Board Chairman of the Board of Regions Bank – Cullman, past-president of the Cullman Chamber of Commerce, member of the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, member of the Foundation Board at Cullman Regional Medical Center, served as the first Chairman of the Cullman County Industrial Development Board, member of the Outlook XXI Committee, served as a former board member of the Alabama Diabetes Trust Fund, Inc., Chairman of the Leukemia Association for Cullman County, Chairman of the Cullman County Heart Association Drive, and Chairman for the March of Dimes Drive, just to name a few.

Dr. Bailey knew education – he emphasized its value not only to the students but also to the community. He was always willing to go the extra mile for the success of a student, a project, or a program. Dr. James C. Bailey made many accomplishments and contributions to the field of education, to his church, his community, and the state of Alabama.

An avid farmer/gardener, Bailey planted a variety of vegetables for relaxation and was best known for supplying tomatoes for The All Steak’s fried green tomatoes.

Dr. Bailey resided in Gilleyville, and is survived by his wife Ann, their two daughters, Gina Bailey McKell, and Beth Bailey Pappas, and five grandchildren.

Highlights of the Dr. James C. Bailey Administration

  • Dr. James C. Bailey was appointed president of Wallace State on February 16, 1971.
  • Wallace State received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on December 6, 1971.  It was granted full accreditation by the Commission on Colleges in 1978.
  • The Wallace State Library was completed in 1986. The library also houses an extensive genealogy research center.
  • Tom Drake Coliseum celebrated 10 years in 2003.  The $12 million facility seats 5,080 and includes and indoor walking track.  It hosts a number of local, state and regional events, including the Alabama High School Northwest Regional Basketball Tournament, which annually draws approximately 25,000 visitors.
  • The James C. Bailey Center was completed in 1994.  The 12-story building houses admissions, financial aid, administrative offices, multimedia classrooms and conference facilities.
  • The Wellness Center was completed in 1995.  It is equipped with a weight room, cardiovascular equipment, racquetball courts, aerobics rooms, gymnasiums and classrooms.
  • The Heath Science Building, which houses the dental assisting and hygiene programs and computer laboratories, was competed in the fall of 2002.
  • The Wallace State Aviation Flight Technology program was initiated in February 1978.  A helicopter training program was added in 1992.  It is one of two collegiate flight programs in the state (the other is at Auburn University).
  • Wallace State ranked nationally for two-year health graduates.
  • The first health care program, nursing, celebrated its 30th anniversary.
  • Wallace State established 17 health care programs, the most two-year programs in the state, with clinical sites all over the southeast.  The dental hygiene program is the only accredited program in Alabama.
  • Wallace State has been awarded 13 All-Sports Trophies by the Alabama Junior and Community College Conference (AJCCC).
  • Wallace State produced five national championship teams, one Olympic medalist, many state championships and numerous academic All-Americans.
  • Women’s basketball celebrated 25 years during the 2002-2003 season.


Kristen Holmes
Director, Communications & Marketing
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722   256-352-8118 direct
256-352-8314 fax   256-339-2519 cell