Cecil P. Allen (1927-2002), Jerry Howell (1939-1990), and Robert A. Heist Jr.
All three of these men were leaders in the development of RCC’s well-known and nationally recognized Photographic Technology program. They worked together to promote this program during its formative years as well as during its continuous growth. Howell came on board in 1970 and served until his untimely death in 1990 and Allen was hired in 1974 to develop the new Photofinishing curriculum and remained at the College until his retirement in 1994. While these faculty members were not the first instructors of the Photography Department at Randolph Technical Institute, they were the ones who established the model for what is now the Department of Photographic Technology at Randolph Community College.
Robert A. Heist
Robert A. “Bob” Heist’s employment with Randolph Community College began in August 1969 and continued for 31 years until his retirement on Dec. 31, 2000. Heist, a graduate of Westbury Senior High School in Westbury, N.Y., received his Bachelor in Science degree in Professional Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Prior to his employment with Randolph Technical Institute, Heist was employed for a short while at Key Color Laboratories. In 1969, as a recent college graduate and in his early 20s, Bob Heist was hired as a photography instructor for Randolph Technical Institute. Heist brought to the program, which has only been in existence since 1968, the photographic expertise required to construct photographic laboratory and studio spaces in what were existing general purpose classrooms in the Administration/Education Center. He also provided the technical background in photography for which the program would become widely known. Heist served as department chair of the photography program from 1987 until 2000 and will always be remembered at RCC for his ability to juggle teaching and chair duties and perform admirably at both, his photography expertise, his ability to maintain outside contacts that increased the visibility of the photography program and his advocacy for the needs of the Photography Department and its students.
Jerry Howell’s employment with Randolph Community College began in August of 1970 and continued until his death on July 26, 1990. Jerry Howell was a graduate of Greenville High School, served as an Intelligence Specialist in the U.S. Army and received a Bachelor in Arts degree from Duke University. He also received his Masters in Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro plus completed other special studies in art. Prior to his employment with Randolph Community College, Howell was a self-employed photographer and worked with Alderman Studios in High Point, the National Parks Service and taught Art Appreciation at East Carolina University. In 1970, when Howell joined Randolph Technical Institute, he provided the artistic facet of the Photography curriculum. He served as the Photography Department chair from 1973-1987. His clear logic and his natural talent for long range planning helped him to see not only the present but well into the future. Long before his death in 1990, he had already completed the initial planning for what is now the Photography Imaging Center. Jerry Howell will always be remembered at RCC his outstanding experience with and knowledge of various aspects of photography, his high expectations of the students and himself, and his dedication to the Photography program and its development.
Cecil Allen’s employment with Randolph Community College began in February 1974 and continued until his retirement on Aug. 31, 1994. Allen was a graduate of Tallapoosa High School in Georgia and attended Georgia State College and served in the U.S. Army. Prior to his employment with Randolph Technical Institute, Allen was employed as a production manager at Hewett Studio in Atlanta, as well as other photography related positions with GAF, Alderman Studios and Ansco and his own personal business. In 1974, Cecil Allen was hired to establish a diploma Photofinishing program at Randolph Technical Institute because of his excellent reputation as a photofinisher, his extensive experience with the different types of equipment used in the industry, his contacts in the photographic industry, as well as, his interest in the program through his service as an advisory board member. In 1986, the Photofinishing program was expanded to a two-year degree program, largely because of the photofinishing industry’s need to hire employees with expanded knowledge offered by such a program. Photofinishing became an integral part of the total photographic curriculum and even though it was discontinued in 1999, a large portion of the curriculum and the present lab facility still reflects Cecil Allen’s philosophy toward lab operation and instruction. Allen passed away in November of 2002 and will always be remembered at RCC for his knowledge, gentle spirit and his love for the students which was shown by helping them to learn in a variety of ways.
Each of these men brought their own talents and abilities to the College. They brought focus and commitment necessary to make the photography program into a true force in the photographic community. Together these men established the curriculum and brought together the resources that have made the Department of Photographic Technology a destination for students and professionals from across North Carolina and around the world.