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Trustees choose short-term leadership

AHOSKIE – Two veteran educators, including a former president of the school, have been recommended as temporary leaders of Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

At an emergency meeting of the RCCC Trustees on Thursday, the board voted to appoint Monique Mitchell as Acting President and Dr. Harold E. Mitchell as Interim President. Both individuals need to be approved by the state board of North Carolina Community Colleges.

The recommendations forwarded to the state were necessitated by Tuesday night’s decision by the RCCC Trustees to accept the resignation of its president, Dr. Ralph Soney. He had submitted a letter of resignation, asking the board to allow him to continue in his role until Dec. 31. However, the trustees, in a 9-2 vote, opted to accept his resignation and make it effective on Tuesday.

There was no opposition by the trustees on Thursday as both Mrs. Mitchell and Dr. Mitchell were favored by 11-0 votes. Rev. David Stackhouse was the only trustee absent from the meeting.

Mrs. Mitchell, the wife of Hertford County Commissioner Bill Mitchell, has served RCCC for a number of years. She is currently the Dean of the Learning Resources Center/Information Systems and serves as Assistant Dean of Curriculum Programs.

In 1987, Dr. Mitchell, who had served the school as a faculty member and later in an administrative capacity, took the reigns as the RCCC’s fourth president. Mitchell, a native of Ahoskie, served in that capacity until 2000. He also recently served as Interim President of Halifax Community College in Weldon and was honored earlier this year as President Emeritus at RCCC.

“We will submit these names to the (state) system office for approval,” said Wendy Ruffin Barnes, chair of the RCCC Board of Trustees. “Once we receive that approval we will notify everyone and make an official announcement.”

Barnes said Mrs. Mitchell’s approval could come as early as later in the day on Thursday or early Friday as the state board requires an immediate replacement at any North Carolina community college where a president has left for any reason. She added that the state board was scheduled to meet in regular session on Sept. 20 where Dr. Mitchell’s appointment can be discussed.

“We need to thank our senior leadership team here as we go through this change,” Barnes said, speaking to the other RCCC administrators gathered Thursday in the Trustees meeting room. “Hang in there with us; we’ll get through this with your help.”

Barnes, talking with the R-C News-Herald following the meeting, said the position of Acting President is typically for a 30-day period or less. Dr. Mitchell will then move to the president’s office and serve until the board finds a new president.

“An interim can serve until such time that we have completed our formal search and have a new president in place,” Barnes said.

She said that search will initially involve contacting the state system office for a listing of possible candidates.

“We will hire an outside firm to assist us in narrowing the list down to a final five or six candidates,” Barnes said. “They’ll help weed out the ones that do not have the qualities that we want.”

In the end, Barnes said the RCCC Trustees will narrow the list to three candidates and submit those names to the state system.

“We let them know which one is our favorite, but they choose and recommend to us which candidate we should hire; we still have to vote, but typically you follow the state’s recommendation,” Barnes concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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