Archived Story

RCCC in retrospect

Published 9:39am Monday, September 17, 2012

WINTERVILLE –Dr. Ralph Soney, during a typical school year, would be busy in his role of President of Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

But on Wednesday afternoon he sat in his Winterville home, 60 or miles away from what has been his normal routine since November 1, 2005 – the day he was hired to become the sixth president in RCCC’s long history.

Roughly 24 hours after seeing that near seven-year tenure come to an end much quicker than anticipated, Soney reflected on his RCCC career, to include the reason behind his decision to resign.

“There are many things that I’m proud of during my time spent at the college,” Soney said during a telephone interview conducted late Wednesday. “What I’m most proud of is the fact that we were reaccredited this year by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). You can’t operate without that accreditation.

“I felt that we had turned the corner; we were back in the good graces of the community there and we were growing,” he continued. “We worked very hard in getting the community, the local businesses, to respect what we were doing to train their future employees and to respect our students, our graduates.

“We also worked hard during my time there to improve the diversity of our students and to treat our students with dignity and respect each and every day,” Soney added. “Another thing I’m proud of was the way the college was serving the business community. We worked with the likes of Nucor, Berry-Kerr and Perdue, just to name a few, to help them help themselves. I can only hope that my successor there will build on that.”

However, despite those successes, Soney said politics was slowly eroding the core of a new foundation he was attempting to build at the school. Hence, he submitted a letter of resignation a few weeks ago to the RCCC Board of Trustees. He asked to remain onboard until Dec. 31, but by a 9-2 vote of the board during Tuesday night’s special called meeting, Soney was sent immediately out the door.

“Many of the leadership issues within Hertford County were starting to manifest themselves on our board and on our campus,” Soney noted. “It was becoming harder to maintain our mission and objectives at the school. I didn’t outline those specifically in my letter of resignation, but I feel certain those in the know in Hertford County are aware of those issues. There are a lot of good things going on there, but the politics – the cronyism, the favoritism – undermines even the best of efforts. For me it was a moral and ethical choice to offer my resignation.”

Soney said he had requested a resignation effective date of Dec. 31 to, “allow the faculty, the staff and the board some time to work on the transition of leadership. My willingness to stay was simply transitional. It’s typical for an administrator to have 30-60 days to slowly back out of the way.”

As he emerged from behind closed doors Tuesday night after being informed of the board’s intent to approve his immediate resignation, Soney was met by a host of supporters – faculty and staff. They were stunned to hear the news of his sudden departure and offered words of comfort to their ousted leader; also assisting him with a quick task of packing up the personal items in his office.

“That was pretty emotional,” he said, pausing to collect himself in an effort to fight back the tears. “They showed up on their own accord Tuesday night. It was nothing that I asked for, nor did I facilitate that turnout on my behalf. I’m grateful to all of them, and to others not there, for their overwhelming support.”

Soney credited the school’s staff for RCCC’s success.

“They stepped to the plate and made what it is. They brought it back to where it was years ago,” Soney noted. “People were beginning to put their trust in the college again and it’s to their credit that was happening. I wasn’t there to win a popularity contest and, ultimately, the blame fell on my shoulders. I was there to lead that staff, those students, because the school was important to the community and it was important to me.”

As to what the future holds for Soney, he said only time will tell.

“I feel some doors will open for me; I’m only 54 years old and I’m still interested in the field of education. I really don’t know where I’m heading right now. I’m going to take a couple of weeks off and think about it,” Soney concluded.

  • skippy1975

    I believe that the board of trustees out at RCCC made a mistake letting him leave like that. He has brought alot of great service out since he was in office there. I wish that the staff,facility,students,and the citizens of the surrounding county could have been involve to make their say so not just the trustees. The staff,facility,students,and the people of the surroundings should have made their voice heard also. If was at the meeting when the decision was made I would had my voice heard. I’m going to miss you Dr. Soney.

    Suggest Removal

  • skippy1975

    I don’t care what anyone says about Dr. Soney. I was glad to be a student under his wing. He was a great person to know out there at the college. I wish him the very best in the future.

    Suggest Removal

  • mrconcerned

    It has been many years since I lived in Hertford County. I still have relatives there and I still care about what goes on because it is my home place. First of all, the voting counter where you can vote on the issue of Dr. Soney is flawed. I have voted no less than nine times! This doesn’t adequately measure anything other than the crazies out there that have personal vendettas and want to further damage the man. I do not know much about the man, except for the fact that he is highly thought of across the entire state of NC. I think that it is ironic that an educator with such stellar credentials comes to good old Hertford County and ends up leaving in such a way as this. Undobtedly he did turn R-CCC around and that is unquestionable. No one has yet to bring any valid evidence that he did anything but progress the institution. The rest of Hertford County needs to stand up to the status quo. If every competent leader coming to the county eventually leaves in frustration, maybe it is not the leader but the people making decisions about who leads and who stays. Because I am an educator, I follow Hertford Conty Education news through my mom. Since 2006 you have had the following people leading HCPS: Deloatch, Adkins, Basham, Fahey, Julius and now Perry. Six superintedents in six years! As a matter of fact, look at what they did to Dennis Deloatch? Look at what they did to the superintendent before Deloatch. The citizens of Hertford County need to stand up an oust these so called leaders and boards that are robbing good people of what they need. I am ashamed.

    Suggest Removal

    • Donnie

      And then there are the crazies you vote 9 times and claim not to know the man. At least now I Know where most of the votes to keep him come from.

      Suggest Removal

    • Boomer

      Mr. Concerned you are mainly on the money. (Sorry, Fahey cannot be included in a conversation about good or effective leadership.) Northeastern North Carolina does not want educated, intelligent, professional, credentialed leadership. You are right when you say look at the leaders that have “passed through” Hertford. Look at those who have “passed through” Bertie. It strikes me as comedic that these two districts are such rivals and “hate” each other when they are the same. Hertford – six superintendents in six years. Bertie – six superintendents in six years. I could provide other common examples but the greatest and the one that needs not just mentioning here and now but needs to capture the attention and response of the public is that the “issue” in both districts is with the boards – the HCPS School Board, the Bertie County Schools Board and the RCCC Board. The issue in a nutshell is nepotism. Take care of my family (hire board member’s husbands, give undeserved raises, provide friends vans to drive around in at district expense, pay board members excessive travel or for not traveling at all, cover up unethical and inappropriate sexual behavior, etc.) and you can be superintendent or community college president for life. Abide by the law, operate ethically, tell the truth, call people on the carpet for not doing their jobs, etc. and the clock starts ticking on you! The other thing that makes me laugh is that all of these boards will tell you that they do what they do for children or for students. Ha! If anyone cared about students, Dr. Soney would still be at RCCC, Dr. Basham would still be in Hertford and Dr. Rollins would still be in Bertie and, get this, a lot of money would still be in the accounts and not spent on searches! How long before the November elections?!

      Suggest Removal

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