Survey leaves more questions than answers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2005

Last month, the Roanoke-Chowan Community College Board of Trustees voted to employ the services of a consulting firm in its search for a new college president.

At that time, the Board also decided to solicit input from the communities that the college serves to help in the search. This input was to come from a &uot;field-tested survey&uot; that was sent to various businesses, industries, local governments and churches throughout the Roanoke-Chowan area.

Dr. Claude Odom, Board Chairman, said, &uot;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;

To find the best candidate to form a partnership with the community, the Board would be best served to have input from the community that is useful, in depth, and specific.

We received the survey in the mail this week and, in our opinion, it is ambiguous and confusing at best.

If the Board sincerely wants input from the community in making the critical decision on who will become the next president, this survey falls short of the mark.

Obviously, public meetings would be a more effective way to gather feedback from the communities. However, according to the Board, time constraints prohibit these meetings from happening.

With a November target for naming a new president, it seems that there is ample time to hold public meetings. In our judgment, a few of those meetings could have already been conducted, based upon the amount of time it took to decipher the confusing survey.

Are the Trustees uncomfortable with meeting the public in a face-to-face environment? It sure seems that way. Hiding behind a survey does not serve the best interests of the communities served by the college.

The Roanoke-Chowan area is fortunate to have a community college. A vibrant, effective community college could play a vital part of the growth of our communities. RCCC has proven it can fill the role of an educational leader, or at least it did prior to the turn of the new century.

After a near five-year period at the college that could be considered tumultuous at best, this is a critical decision for this Board. Let’s hope this Board does not let history repeat itself in making this decision.

If the Board truly wants community input, let’s gather the input in a way that is truly useful to the decision making process.