Branch, 61, has 36 years of professional experience in academic administration and classroom instruction. Most recently, he was director of continuing medical and pharmacy education for the Southern Regional Area Health Education Center (SRAHEC) in Fayetteville, N.C.
“I’m excited to join the PHCC family. I’ve quickly learned first-hand that we have very dedicated faculty and students. All the pieces are in place for a strong STEM program,” Branch said. “I have visited several local schools, the Virginia Museum of Natural History and some local industries, and I am confident we will design a STEM program that will meet area industry needs and serve our three counties and their students.”
The new academic division combines the former divisions of applied science and engineering, as well as science and business technology. The STEM division at PHCC will cover academic areas such as chemistry, computer science, information systems technology, CADD, engineering, general engineering technology, environmental science, geosciences, geology, mathematics, life sciences, science, biology, physics and electronics.
“STEM subject areas, that’s where 90 percent of the job growth in the next 20 years is projected,” said Kris Bishop, the vice president of academic and student development at PHCC. “We wanted to make sure we were focusing attention in the program areas with the greatest future occupational demands and potential for growth."
Formerly of Clinton, N.C., Branch worked with SRAHEC doctors and pharmacists through Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to that, he spent 32 years at Sampson Community College, where he served as division chairman of the Department of Arts and Sciences for 29 years.
During his time at SCC, Branch also taught biology, human anatomy, physiology, microbiology, botany, zoology and environmental science.
“My experience and passion for community college students, education and my love of science - all of my interests dovetail perfectly with the responsibilities here at PHCC and the STEM program,” said Branch.
Branch has post graduate work in entomology and biochemistry from N.C. State University, a master’s degree in biology and a certificate in community college education from Appalachian State University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from UNC Pembroke.
Branch and his wife, Linda, reside in Martinsville. They have one son, Marcus, who is a graduate of East Carolina University and one daughter, Rachel, who is enrolled in the physician assistant program at Methodist University.