Archived Story

Trustees choose short-term leadership

Published 10:13am Friday, September 14, 2012

AHOSKIE – Two veteran educators, including a former president of the school, have been recommended as temporary leaders of Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

At an emergency meeting of the RCCC Trustees on Thursday, the board voted to appoint Monique Mitchell as Acting President and Dr. Harold E. Mitchell as Interim President. Both individuals need to be approved by the state board of North Carolina Community Colleges.

The recommendations forwarded to the state were necessitated by Tuesday night’s decision by the RCCC Trustees to accept the resignation of its president, Dr. Ralph Soney. He had submitted a letter of resignation, asking the board to allow him to continue in his role until Dec. 31. However, the trustees, in a 9-2 vote, opted to accept his resignation and make it effective on Tuesday.

There was no opposition by the trustees on Thursday as both Mrs. Mitchell and Dr. Mitchell were favored by 11-0 votes. Rev. David Stackhouse was the only trustee absent from the meeting.

Mrs. Mitchell, the wife of Hertford County Commissioner Bill Mitchell, has served RCCC for a number of years. She is currently the Dean of the Learning Resources Center/Information Systems and serves as Assistant Dean of Curriculum Programs.

In 1987, Dr. Mitchell, who had served the school as a faculty member and later in an administrative capacity, took the reigns as the RCCC’s fourth president. Mitchell, a native of Ahoskie, served in that capacity until 2000. He also recently served as Interim President of Halifax Community College in Weldon and was honored earlier this year as President Emeritus at RCCC.

“We will submit these names to the (state) system office for approval,” said Wendy Ruffin Barnes, chair of the RCCC Board of Trustees. “Once we receive that approval we will notify everyone and make an official announcement.”

Barnes said Mrs. Mitchell’s approval could come as early as later in the day on Thursday or early Friday as the state board requires an immediate replacement at any North Carolina community college where a president has left for any reason. She added that the state board was scheduled to meet in regular session on Sept. 20 where Dr. Mitchell’s appointment can be discussed.

“We need to thank our senior leadership team here as we go through this change,” Barnes said, speaking to the other RCCC administrators gathered Thursday in the Trustees meeting room. “Hang in there with us; we’ll get through this with your help.”

Barnes, talking with the R-C News-Herald following the meeting, said the position of Acting President is typically for a 30-day period or less. Dr. Mitchell will then move to the president’s office and serve until the board finds a new president.

“An interim can serve until such time that we have completed our formal search and have a new president in place,” Barnes said.

She said that search will initially involve contacting the state system office for a listing of possible candidates.

“We will hire an outside firm to assist us in narrowing the list down to a final five or six candidates,” Barnes said. “They’ll help weed out the ones that do not have the qualities that we want.”

In the end, Barnes said the RCCC Trustees will narrow the list to three candidates and submit those names to the state system.

“We let them know which one is our favorite, but they choose and recommend to us which candidate we should hire; we still have to vote, but typically you follow the state’s recommendation,” Barnes concluded.

  • skippy1975

    I wish that the staff,students,and the surrounding areas could make their say on President Soney’s being resign not just the trustees. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that way.Because President Soney has done alot for RCCC when he was office.

    Suggest Removal

  • Jame Gumb

    el gato amarillo es en realidad una oveja bebé con un coño

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    • I can Zee for Miles

      My spanish isn’t that good, but did you say that the yellow cat is actually a village idiot in sheep’s clothing pulling for the Clemson Tigers this weekend?

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      • Curtis Cawls

        When did the yellow pu cat graduate from Carolina Law – Nineteen Eighty Four?

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  • hertford3

    the sad part in all of this is we(the adults in the roanoke chowan area) are selling our youth a B.S. dream because the majority of the adults in charge in this area are ridiculous. You have a leader in mind when you accept the resignation of a president without blinking an eye. True, the leaders that are temporarily in place DID a great job at one point. but can they still do it now? In our school system in Hertford County incluing the community college, please old heads step the hell down!!!!!!!!! let some new fresh blood with a vision take over so you can stop playing games with the education of today’s youth. Send these kids pass Greenville and they can’t spell cat. Our children, our young adults, deserve better decision makers, better speakers, better leaders.

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  • Janie

    The question was posed by a poster (probably Soney himself), “Is R-CCC better off now than it was under Dr. Wyatt?” He, not surprisingly, claims it is better now. So, using some objective criteria, let’s compare the two tenures:

    • Student Enrollment: R-CCC achieved its highest enrollment ever under Dr. Wyatt. Under Dr. Soney, the college has struggled with low student enrollment, and he had the early high school program that Dr. Wyatt did not have, as well as more prison programs than she had. Were it not for those captive students, the college would really be in trouble.
    • Nursing Program: The nursing program continued to thrive under Wyatt. Soney nearly broke the program. In 2010, RCCC scored a 50% pass rate on the NCLEX, making it the lowest-scoring school in the state for that year. Fortunately, the college is doing much better in that area, but that is still embarrassing.

    • Personnel Turnover: During Dr. Wyatt’s tenure, the Office of State Budget and Management compiled a report on the college. One of the concerns noted in that report was the high turnover rate of personnel, mostly due to resignations and retirements. The turnover rate during Wyatt’s tenure pales compared to that of Dr. Soney’s.
    • Top Heavy Management: The OSBM report also noted that the college was top heavy, that it had unnecessary layers of management, or something to that effect. Soney has added even more layers, creating more deans and senior deans and assistant deans and associate deans and directors than the college has ever had.
    • Fiscal Management: Despite her flaws, Dr. Wyatt never had to fire employees because of financial exigency. Yet Soney could still somehow pay some of his deans nearly $100K a year.
    • SACS Reaccreditation: Dr. Wyatt and Dr. Soney both led the college through a SACS reaccreditation. So they are even on that score; both met that expectation of a college president.

    Dr. Soney has added more programs than what Dr. Wyatt did, but those programs evidently are not generating enough FTE to match, much less surpass what Dr. Wyatt accomplished. Perhaps there are other accomplishments to Dr. Soney’s credit, and he can offer such evidence. Otherwise, his greatest (and it is great) accomplishment is successfully guiding the school through SACS, just as Wyatt did. So between the two…. Heck, just bring back Dr. Mitchell!

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  • NewYork

    Dean Mitchell is a good choice to serve in that temporary role. She seems to have a solid level of professionalism and is conscious of what the “powers that be” want to see done. My greater concern is that we keep ignoring the fact that the majority of major decisions that involve appointments at the Tech or in the school system involve family members of some affluent (by our standards) member of the community. I hope that her ongoing involvement doesn’t cave to those types of whims.

    At risk of becoming political myself, I think we need to ask ourselves “are we better today than we were 7 years ago”? There are many, I’m sure, that will answer in the negative… but they are likely ones that have benefitted from maintaining positions that they are not qualified for or have loved ones that were canned after being exposed as inept. The ride has not been a pretty one, but we are well past the days of being comfortable with the status quo. The process used to select our next president of the Tech should focus on maintaining the improvements that have been made in recent years and not digressing to a period plagued by politically and family driven appointments that only lead that place toward stagnant and stale efforts.

    We are better off now than before Soney came. A college president that was adored by many and despised by others has been ousted. The question is what are we going to do now? Let’s use this as an opportunity to WAKE UP! Our community is so much more deserving of quality leadership and progress. I just fear that we’ll just keep on drinking the Kool-Aid that keeps us labeled as country bumpkins that don’t know how to develop people and resources that can move us forward.

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    • Donnie

      Wow! The negative comments are from “ones that benefitted (sic) from maintaining positions that they are not qualified for or have loved ones that were canned after being exposed as inept”?

      Ha! It’s good to hear from you Ralph. How’s retirement treating you?

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    • Smithwick88

      It sounds like ineptitude was/is epidemic at that place.

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  • jochenkunstler

    The only reason to immediately terminate somebody , who had resigned is to make sure the board can more quickly put people in place they like and give the state board less time to react.

    Unfortunately Dr. Somey’s interview is not online (at least I can’t find it). Our area, the schools, the College, and many other institutions are way behind the times compared to the rest of the State. All the boards and commissions seem to be populated by the same rotating circle of people. Anyone not seeing the connection must be blind. I am aware of many of the other challenges we face (poverty, largely segregated society/schools, churches and institution), but we can not keep using them as excuses to cement the status quo and drive out everybody who tries to change things.
    The Boards (School and Community College need to stop trying to micromanage the organizations they are supposed to oversee).
    No superintendent in a large number of years has served out his term (Dr. Fahey for example in large part, because he was not offered an extension in a sensible time frame), and now we have driven out a College President that earned us reaccreditation and without a doubt has moved the College forward.
    Hertford County and the Roanoke Chowan area deserves better, our children and students deserve better.

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  • lemonshirt

    I may be looking back with rose colored glasses, but I recall the community college as being well managed during Dr. Mitchell’s tenure. I’m glad he is willing to take the helm again. That’s the kind of ownership and dedication we get when we utilize the talents of our locals.

    …are you listening Trustees?!!!

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