RCCC launches search for new president

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 26, 2005

AHOSKIE – The official search is underway.

Roanoke-Chowan Community College’s Board of Trustees met here Tuesday evening where they unanimously agreed to hire a consulting firm to handle the search process for a new president.

Dr. Claude Odom, Chairman of the Board, told the trustees that although they are working on a fairly tight time frame, they should have a new president onboard by November.

Dr. Odom serves on the board of North Carolina Community College Trustees, linking him to organizations that provide search services.

The trustees opted to hire the consulting firm of Hunter and Hockaday Inc. The cost of their service varies.

&uot;It depends on whether it’s a broad-based or an abbreviated search,&uot; he said. &uot;We have selected to use the abbreviated search. That will cost in the area of $10,000 to $12,000, and you’re talking about search consultants that have a tremendous background expertise in the field and they will do most, if not all, the legwork for you. That legwork includes background checks and screenings of all kinds.&uot;

Dr. Odom said the college has funding set aside for the search, but only in a limited amount. The money comes from appropriated line items within the college budget authorized for this type of search.

&uot;Every college has the authority to hire a new president and the method by which they do that is entirely up to them,&uot; said Dr. Odom. &uot;The funds come from the college with no outside help, unless it is necessary.&uot;

Odom said he is confident that RCCC can find a new president for the funds allotted for the search.

As the search progresses, the trustees will seek a leader who is not only competent in terms of community college background, but also one who understands the North Carolina Community College system. The candidate will be a person who &uot;blends&uot; and will be a community-minded person, according to Dr. Odom.

&uot;We want someone who can move the community college to a place where it can truly be a community college,&uot; he added. &uot;A community college is constantly trying to map public response to determine what its needs are, from GED all the way up to business and industry. We want the best candidate we can find to come to the area and allow the community college to be in a partnership with the community.&uot;

The candidate would also have to be competent in evaluating programs and determining the types of programs the college would offer. They would also have to be proficient in reaching out to the communities served by RCCC in Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton counties.

A salary range for the new president has yet to be determined. However, the last RCCC President, Dr. Mary C. Wyatt, was paid around $90,000 annually. Dr. Odom noted that figure was a combination of state and local monies. He added there is a moratorium at this time on salaries for college presidents.

While the search for a new leader is underway, RCCC will reach out to the communities they serve through a field-tested survey.

&uot;We are looking for input and we’ll use this survey as a mail out and hopefully get responses through that method,&uot; said Dr. Odom. &uot;The surveys will be sent to businesses, industries, local governments and churches throughout the counties we serve.&uot;

Dr. Odom said the college is hoping for at least a 25 percent return on the surveys.

As for holding public meetings to obtain that needed feedback, Dr. Odom said none are planned at this point because of time constraints.

&uot;With the time restraints we have, we’ll have to hit the ground running,&uot; he added. &uot;We believe that the search consultants can help us identify several candidates as quality individuals and we can select from that pool.&uot;

In the meantime, Dr. Robert E. Bridges is serving as Interim President of the college.

Bridges, President of Education Initiatives Inc. of Raleigh, took over the position May 2 and is contracted to work until November, giving the college time for their search for a new leader.

He became interim president following a state mandated 30-day period in which RCCC staff member Dr. Claudia H. Morris, Vice President of Planning and Advancement, served the college as its 30-day Acting President. That came on the heels of an abrupt resignation by Dr. Wyatt on March 29.

Dr. Wyatt, who had worked without a contract since June of 2003, had not shared a good relationship with the RCCC Faculty Association since the summer of 2002 when faculty members claimed she had attempted to reduce salaries by restricting the number of months they could work. The Association went as far as to cast a vote of &uot;No Confidence&uot; in their president. Four faculty members were terminated in 2003, widening the rift between Wyatt and the trustees. However, they were later reinstated.