Spotlight on Community College Leaders:
Cleveland Community College Vice Chair Allen Langley
By Ashley Blizzard, NCACCP/NCACCT Coordinator of Operations
Cleveland Community College (CCC) vice chairman Allen Langley is a living testament to his favorite quote: “You haven’t lived until you’ve done something for someone who can never repay you.” With an exceptional dedication to public service, Langley is a shining example of how one person can profoundly impact many.
Langley is CCC’s longest serving trustee, having served now for 10 years. Beyond this role, he is also on the executive board for the NC Association of Community College Trustees (NCACCT), and he has recently been elected to the board for the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).
Langley’s journey as a trustee began when Governor Pat McCrory recognized his dedication and passion to service after hearing him speak at a Rotary Club meeting in 2012. This led McCrory to ask Langley to serve as a Cleveland Community College trustee. Wanting to expand his ability to support young people in their educational and career pursuits, Langley agreed.
Langley and his wife, Mandy, have two daughters, one of whom has completed college and another who is currently attending college. They have gained a firsthand understanding of the challenges associated with the cost of education. Langley’s tenure as a trustee has opened his eyes to financial obstacles like food insecurities and the lack of affordable childcare that many students must overcome to be successful. He says that CCC is working to support its students by addressing these challenges. “I’d like to do more so more people can come onto our campus and not have to worry about where their next meal comes from or who is going to help take care of their child that day,” says Langley.
Langley emphasizes that every community has diverse needs and goals. “We need to be pliable enough to provide what they need. We need to meet them where they are to achieve their goals and objectives,” he says.
According to Langley, the introduction of sports to the CCC campus “has been a real game changer.” The addition of sports has enhanced the campus’s sense of community and has made it feel more like a four-year college. Langley has been proud of this addition to CCC.
In his more recently acquired roles as executive board member of NCACCT and board member of the national ACCT, Langley has gained a broader perspective of community colleges than just at the local level. In speaking about all community colleges, he says, “I’m proud we offer a good, quality service to our clients, which are our students. If we can offer them a chance to be able to better support their families, it makes the whole community a better place.”
Langley imparts valuable advice to incoming trustees. First, he reminds them that that this is an opportunity to affect the future of young people; everything a trustee does makes a difference. Therefore, new trustees must decide what kind of difference they want to make. Second, Langley says, “The students we serve are a whole lot like wet cement. Whatever falls on them leaves an impression. We, as trustees, need to make sure that the impressions we leave on each one of these students are positive ones.”
Beyond community colleges, Langley’s extensive volunteer work includes 36 years and counting as a devoted member of Rotary. Additionally, he is the current chair of the Shelby Parks and Recreation’s Board, the Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce Board and Cleveland County’s largest festival, the Merry-Go-Round Festival. He is the longest-serving member of the Cleveland County Board of Elections and holds the prestigious title of a 32nd Degree Mason. Langley, who is President of H&H Pest Control and Waterproofing, is the longest-serving member of the North Carolina Structural Pest Control Committee. Langley’s many years of public service have not gone unnoticed, as he has been awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine not once, but twice.
Langley has a deep appreciation for meaningful quotes and keeps a folder of them for reference. One of his life-guiding quotes that is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi is: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” He strongly believes that everyone should have the objective of helping to make the world a better place. A prominent example of Langley fulfilling his self-imposed mission of “service above self” is a remarkable initiative that he and about 30 fellow Rotarians undertook. They climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, raising approximately $125,000 to cover the costs of 625,000 polio vaccines for Rotary’s “End Polio Now” program.
Beyond his many acts of community service, Langley enjoys playing golf as well as singing at his church, where he has even been a part of a gospel quartet. Although he enjoys a gratifying life and has achieved many of his life’s ambitions, Langley expresses his desire to see his daughters get married and to have the privilege of walking them down the aisle. “I want to see them flourish and bloom and be all that they can be,” he says.
Finally, while Langley is passionate about his desire to help make the world a better place, he is certainly no stick in the mud. He seems to incorporate humor and light-heartedness throughout all aspects of his life, including the following wisdom from his grandmother: “The best kind of business in any line of business is to have some kind of business of your own, but if you have no business, then make it your business to leave other people’s business alone.” Allen Langley has no need to concern himself with other people’s business, as he has clearly made it his life’s business to serve others.