RCCC leader addresses State Board

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

At the November 18 meeting of the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges, Dr. Ralph Garrit Soney was introduced to the Board as the sixth president of Roanoke-Chowan Community College (RCCC) in Ahoskie.

Dr. Soney was introduced to the State Board by RCCC’s Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Claude M. Odom.

After thanking Dr. Robert Bridges for his &uot;outstanding work&uot; as Interim President of RCCC [from May to October 2005], Dr. Soney addressed the State Board.

&uot;Chair Pinnix-Ragland; Distinguished Members of the Board; President Lancaster; Mr. Williams; Dr. Parker; Mr. Briggs; colleagues and friends. This moment for me is one filled with great humility, pride and resolve,” Dr. Soney said.

Giving the Board a brief synopsis of his time in the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS), Dr. Soney explained that it was when he attended North Carolina State University that he first came under the tutelage of great educators and community college enthusiasts the likes of Dr. Ed Boone and Dr. George Vaughn and where he was introduced to the work and vision of greats like Dr. Dallas Herring, the intellectual father of the NCCCS.

Calling himself a &uot;community college convert,&uot; Dr. Soney said that after graduating from NC State he passionately understood what the NCCCS does for thousands of North Carolina citizens and why the system works so hard to connect its programs with industry.

&uot;When I look at Roanoke-Chowan Community College, I see the epitome of what the North Carolina Community College System was called to be,” he said.

“Often when people talk about Northeastern North Carolina they talk about economic depression; chronic and debilitating diseases; a high unemployment rate and a dwindling industrial base.

They see a large minority population occupying the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder within this great state.

They see high dropout rates and a cycle of never-ending despondency among our citizens.”

Soney continued, &uot;But, my friends, I see more than the maladies listed above.

Since I have arrived, I have been blinded by the positive things [I see].

I have seen hope.

I have seen potential.

I have seen young men smiling and respectful in all colors.

I have seen hordes of young black males, heretofore thought extinct in higher education, on my campus—in classes and in labs. . .I have seen the seeds of an outstanding and optimistic future waiting to be watered and I feel that I am where I belong.&uot;

Extending his gratitude to NCCCS President H. Martin Lancaster; NCCCS Executive Vice President, Fred Williams; NCCCS Vice President for Academic and Student Services, Dr. Delores Parker and NCCCS Vice President for Administration and Finance, Kennon Briggs, Dr. Soney concluded his speech by saying, &uot;On behalf of the Trustees, faculty, staff and students of Roanoke-Chowan Community College, I say that we covet your prayers and your well-wishes as we boldly meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us.&uot;

Dr. Soney is originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated from West Forsyth Senior High School.

He attended Appalachian State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology (1980), a Master of Arts degree in History (1983) and Psychology (1991).

In 1988 he did further graduate work as a Fulbright-Hayes Fellow at the University of Cairo, Egypt, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Dr. Soney earned his Doctorate of Education from North Carolina State University in 1995.

Dr. Soney’s positions in the NCCCS include Vice President for Academics and Economic and Community Development at Pitt Community College in Greenville; Vice President of Instruction at Mitchell Community College in Statesville; Director of Human Services, Social Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro; and history and psychology instructor at Western Piedmont Community College in Morganton.

Dr. Soney is married to Yolanda Roshel Soney, originally of Williamston, NC.

She is a licensed clinical social worker at Walter B. Jones Hospital in Greenville, NC.

They have one child, Garrit, who is 7.

Although Dr. Soney is just being introduced to the State Board, he has been in his position since November 1.

His short time on the campus of Roanoke-Chowan Community College has led him to say, &uot;My wanderings in the last few days have re-emphasized my commitment to the notion that community is an important part of Roanoke-Chowan Community College’s name.

In its broadest sense, community connotes working together for a common goal and purpose.

I will emphasize that we are here to serve our students and the communities that we touch.

We are committed to the success and matriculation of all of our citizens within the counties that we serve irrespective of their individual situations.&uot;