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List narrows to three

AHOSKIE – It's now down to three.

Last week, the Roanoke-Chowan Community College Board of Trustees narrowed a field of six college president hopefuls to three. That came on Sept. 1 during an all-day interview session with the half-dozen candidates.

"We feel the three we selected last week are capable and qualified to lead Roanoke-Chowan Community College as well as partnering with the communities served by the college," said Dr. Claude Odom, Chairman of the RCCC Trustees. "We feel any of the three can do the job."

Dr. Odom said the names of the three finalists will be forwarded to Martin Lancaster, president of the North Carolina Community College system. Lancaster and his staff will review the qualifications of each of the finalists and agree or disagree with the choices made by the local board.

"If President Lancaster and his staff are in agreement with our choices, then a representative from Mr. Lancaster's office will come to Ahoskie and meet with us at which time we will discuss the three names submitted," Odom explained. "If there are no issues with any of the three finalists, the measure goes back to us to debate and choose one final candidate."

Speaking on behalf of the RCCC Trustees, Dr. Odom said it's hopeful Lancaster's office will approve the three finalists prior to the local board's next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 27.

Following that part of the process, the name of the top choice is sent back to Lancaster who, in turn, presents that decision to the State Board of Community Colleges. The state board has the final approval.

Dr. Odom said the final selection process will not be finished in time for the state board's September meeting. Therefore, the earliest a final decision could be reached in this matter would be the state board's scheduled meeting on Oct. 21.

Meanwhile, Dr. Odom said he and the board were hoping for an opportunity to formally introduce the three finalists to the local community.

"It is our wish to provide an opportunity for the community as well as the students and staff at RCCC to have interface and dialogue with the three we've selected," he said. "However, before we can do that, we need President Lancaster and his staff to approve the three names we submitted."

Odom said he would not release the names of the three finalists until they gained approval from Lancaster.

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.

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.