Soney maps out changes at RCCC

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 6, 2006

AHOSKIE – Change is on the horizon at Roanoke Chowan Community College.

The sixth president of Roanoke Chowan Community College, Dr. Ralph G. Soney, has over 23 years of experience as an educator and administrator. As he oversees a major restructuring effort at the local institution, he figures to be just the man for the job.

In an interview at his office this past Thursday, Soney spoke about some of the changes that have already occurred during his tenure, as well as many changes that are still unfolding.

One of the first things that Soney said he needed to address was the financial status of the school.

&uot;When I arrived it was obvious that we were in bad shape financially,&uot; Soney stated, &uot;So much of our funding is contingent on the success of our students and our inability to serve them properly has resulted in serious deficiencies in our fiscal infrastructure.&uot;

In the past few weeks Soney, has been faced with grumbling about some of his personnel changes as well as his upheaval of specific programs and services.

Soney is expected to address the staff and faculty of the college at the end of the month to outline some of the new policies and agendas that will begin to permeate RCCC’s culture.

&uot;When I outlined some of my concerns and areas where I wanted to see changes, the Board of Trustees had some hard questions for me,&uot; Soney said,

&uot;Change is never absorbed easily, but after I was allowed to explain and detail what my aspirations were for the school, it was obvious that we were all on the same accord.&uot;

Soney said that the board gave unanimous approval to his personnel as well as his policy decisions.

Soney went on to expand on the schools obligation to be a community servant.

&uot;We receive about 95 percent of our funding comes from the state of North Carolina and a lot of that funding is based on our ability to have students complete their programs and in some cases move them into four-year institutions,&uot; Soney added. &uot;We have done a poor job of doing both.&uot;

Soney said he has presented the board with a &uot;state of the college&uot; package that outlined the cessation of certain job functions, the outsourcing of certain school functions and the expansion of the school’s community outreach services.

&uot;We have some outstanding faculty members who have dedicated the majority of their lives to helping improve the quality of life for people in this area,&uot; Soney declared. &uot; It is important for us to foster that continued effort and trim areas that have drained the college’s finances and efficiency. We cannot divorce ourselves from our low success rates to date.&uot;

Soney explained that the college is sending a very low amount of students into four-year environments every year.

In the past couple of months, RCCC has been approved to partner with Elizabeth City State University to offer classes that will help aspiring teachers complete the lateral entry program. The college has also been designated as one of four community colleges statewide to host specialized state appointees to assist students moving into the teaching profession by finding funding and assisting with test preparation.

&uot;The state has taken the position that locales should not necessarily be looking to recruit out-of-state educators, but rather grow their own,&uot; Soney said. &uot;The area is changing right in front of eyes. The world is coming to Hertford County. We need to be focused on bringing in programs that will allow people in our community to get jobs or start small businesses.&uot;

Some of the goals on Soney’s wish list include laptop computers for all of the college’s full time students as well as a marked increase in the student population.

&uot;This institution has never had more than 1034 students; it is my goal to have us top the 1300 mark by this fall,&uot; Soney explained, &uot;We need to show North Carolina that we are a catalyst for change.&uot;