Why They Give

Dr. Nicholas Vacc

Inside one of the drawers of the late Dr. Nicholas Vacc’s desk, you’d have found a curious quote: “It doesn’t matter where the credit goes as long as the task gets done.” Although the source was unknown, everyone knew this phrase defined his life.

Dr. Vacc joined UNC Greensboro’s Counseling and Educational Development (CED) Department in 1979, after a successful career at the State University of New York, Fredonia, and a fruitful two-year sabbatical at the University of Florida. He served as CED chair from 1986-96. Humble but driven, with a fiery vision for the future, Vacc left an indelible mark on our campus and the counseling profession

“He was a leader,” remembers Dr. Craig Cashwell, current chair and one of Dr. Vacc’s former doctoral students. “His guidance shaped accreditation standards, certification exams, and the honor society of our profession. It was his vision that led the counseling programs to a national reputation and ranking.”

Under Vacc’s leadership, the CED first appeared in the top 10 in U.S. News and World Report – a ranking it has since maintained. He also worked with then-Dean of the School of Education, Dr. Edward Uprichard, to cultivate interest in UNCG from Eric Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services and the National Board for Certified Counselors. His efforts led to the permeant relocation of Chi Sigma Iota International Honors Society Headquarters to Greensboro.

Vacc is best remembered, however, as a teacher and mentor. From graduate students to junior faculty to experienced researchers, Vacc supported professionals at every level. Whether it was advising PhD candidates or junior faculty, or joining graduate students in the menial labor that comes with research, Vacc led from behind.

“When he had to step down from my dissertation committee due to his health,” remembers Dr. Simone Lambert ‘01, now assistant professor at Virginia Tech University, “it was more than the loss of a dissertation chair. It was the loss of a father figure…he was my first professional mentor to truly have an enormous impact on my career.”

Although Vacc passed away in 2002, he remains a positive force. From the bell tower and counseling center bearing his name, to scholarships and professorships supporting counselors and educators, Vacc remains an integral part of countless lives. In honor of his many contributions, Vacc was inducted as an inaugural recipient of the Inspirational Educators Award. Housed in the School of Education, the Inspirational Educator Program celebrates legacies of selfless dedication and service and recognizes the many forms “educators” take.

Dr. Craig Cashewell, as well as former deans and graduates of the CED, were honored to nominate Vacc for this prestigious award.

“We’re proud to continue the legacy of excellence he created. Daily, as I hear the bells of the tower named for him and gifted by his widow, Nancy, I am humbled to serve as chair and hope I can continue to honor him.”

Story by Michelle Danner-Groves, Donor Relations


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P. Kevin Williamson

Associate Vice Chancellor