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RCCC president interviews begin

AHOSKIE – It's crunch time at Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

Just over four months after hiring a consulting firm to handle the search process for a new president, the Board of Trustees at this Hertford County based college will today (Thursday) begin the tedious process of narrowing a list of six finalists down to three and then one selection.

Exiting from an 88-minute closed door executive session on Tuesday night, Board chairman Dr. Claude Odom formally announced the interview session would commence on Thursday. It's expected the interviews, conducted individually, will last all day. A news release from the college revealed the process begins at 8 a.m. and is scheduled to end at 7 p.m.

All interviews will be conducted in a closed session of a special called meeting of the board.

Dr. Odom said the names of the six finalists will not be publicly released. However, he did say that from the list of six, three final candidates will be chosen and those names will be made public.

"Because these are preliminary interviews, we (Trustees) believe that maintaining confidentiality at this stage of the process is important both for the candidates and the integrity of the search process; therefore, we are not releasing the names of the candidates at this time," Dr. Odom said, reading from a prepared statement near the close of Tuesday's three-plus hour meeting.

He continued, "However, we are hopeful there will be a chance to introduce the three final candidates to the counties and the communities served by this college."

Odom said it's possible for the board to reach a decision on the three finalists by as early as this evening.

Once that trio is chosen, their names are forwarded to the North Carolina Community College system for reference checks and further screening. If the state agrees with the RCCC Board's selections, those three candidates will go through another round of interviews from where one will be chosen to become the college's next president.

The process to choose a new president officially began on May 24 where the RCCC Trustees agreed to spend upwards of $12,000 to retain the services of Hockaday-Hunter Associates, a consulting firm to handle the search process. Dr. Donny Hunter of that firm was present at this past Tuesday night's board meeting.

Dr. Odom said Hockaday-Hunter had a tremendous background expertise in searching nationwide for the right candidates to fit the right positions. In RCCC's case, the trustees informed their search team to 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 search also sought after a person who would blend well with the local communities.

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.

Dr. Wyatt abruptly resigned her position on March 29 after nearly five years on the job.

In Wyatt's wake, RCCC staff member Dr. Claudia H. Morris, Vice President of Planning and Advancement, served the college as its 30-day Acting President.

On May 2, Dr. Robert E. Bridges of Raleigh was named as Interim President of the college. He is under contract to work until November.