The Final Three

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, April 17, 2013

AHOSKIE – Three candidates have emerged as the frontrunners to become the next president of Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

On Tuesday, the RCCC Board of Trustees officially released the names of the final three, two males and one female – each with a long list of educational accolades, to include their respective roles as the top administrator at various colleges across the nation. RCCC officials also announced that local citizens will be able to meet the threesome during a series of public forums scheduled for later this month.

Dr. Peggy Bradford of Baltimore, Maryland; Dr. Michael Elam of Dickinson, Texas; and Dr. Algie Gatewood of Portland, Oregon are the finalists for the RCCC job. Elam and Gatewood are North Carolina natives.

Following an extensive national search that produced more than 20 applications, the RCCC Trustees narrowed that list and conducted interviews by various methods of several candidates. The final three were the only ones interviewed on the Union-based campus, according to Wendy Ruffin-Barnes, Chair of the RCCC Board of Trustees.

“From start to finish, this was a very impressive group of applicants,” said Ruffin-Barnes. “It was very hard on us to narrow the list to three. We could have easily chosen three more just like them from the outstanding list of applications we received from all across the nation.

“Speaking on behalf of the board, we were extremely happy to see so many highly qualified individuals,” she added. “With their educational administration talents, they could have chosen to go anywhere across our nation, but they chose us. That makes us feel good about the talent pool from which we started this process and equally excited about the final three we have selected.”

Ruffin-Barnes said she personally felt that the national prominence of the North Carolina Community System had a lot to do with attracting such highly qualified candidates.

“Our state has one of the best (community college) systems in the nation,” she said. “Plus, our state ranks very high as one of the top places to live and work.”

She also noted the North Carolina link with Elam and Gatewood.

“If you are a native of our great state, it’s always nice to come back if the opportunity arises,” Ruffin-Barnes remarked.

Each presidential finalist will participate in a public forum at the college, scheduled for April 25-26.

“We invite and encourage everyone to attend the open public forums,” said Ruffin-Barnes. “The public forum sessions are open to administration, faculty, staff, students and the general public.”

The forums will begin with a brief introduction of each candidate followed by a question and answer session.  Comment forms will be given to all who attend and the completed forms will be collected and given to the R-CCC Board of Trustees for review.

Those forums, all to take place in Jernigan Auditorium, are scheduled as follows:

Dr. Michael Elam, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 25;

Dr. Peggy Bradford, 2-3 p.m. on Thursday, April 25; and

Dr. Algie Gatewood, 11:30-12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 26.

For further information on the public forums, contact Tarsha Dudley, Executive Administrative Assistant to the RCCC President, at or (252) 862-1308.

In December of last year, Bradford was chosen as the interim president at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) in Maryland following a decision by the board of trustees there to part ways with president Carolane Williams. She had served as BCCC’s Vice President of Academic Affairs prior to accepting the interim president’s position. Previously, Bradford served as Dean of Academic Affairs/Chief Academic Administrator at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio.

Bradford holds an Associate of Arts from Shawnee Community College, IL; a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Administration of Justice from Southern Illinois University; a Juris Doctorate from the University of Iowa; and a Doctorate of Education from Northern Illinois University.

Elam serves as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Previously, he served as Interim Chancellor for Central Louisiana Technical Community College, and Sowela Technical and Community College in Louisiana. Prior to that, Elam served as the sixth President of College of the Mainland in Texas City, Texas, a single campus district serving the 13 cities of Galveston County with an approximate enrollment of 13,000 students.

With more than 32 years of experience in higher education, Elam holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and a Master of Education in Student Personnel and Administration from Howard University, Washington, DC, and a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, FL.

Elam was born in Henderson, NC and grew up in Philadelphia, PA.

Gatewood serves as President of Cascade Campus of Portland (Oregon) Community College. Previously, he was Director of Health, Education and Welfare/Assistant Director of the North Carolina State Education Assistant Authority, an administrative unit of the University of North Carolina.

A native North Carolinian, Gatewood holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science/History from Livingston College; a Master of Arts in Education from Appalachian State University; and a Doctorate of Education in Adult and Community College Education from North Carolina State University.

“We will use the input from the public forums to help guide our recommendation of which candidate we prefer to the state (community college) board in Raleigh,” Ruffin-Barnes said. “But even though we make the recommendation, the state board ultimately chooses the next president of RCCC.”

Ruffin-Barnes added that she hopes to have the new president in place by June, or July at the very latest.

The process to find the next RCCC president formally got underway in January. The local trustees were assisted in that process by the Association of Community College Trustees, based in Washington, DC.

The search for a new president became necessary when the trustees, in a 9-2 vote, opted to end the employment contract of Dr. Ralph Soney on Sept. 11, 2012. He had been at RCCC since late 2005.

In the interim, RCCC has contracted with Dr. Harold Mitchell to serve as president. He is no stranger to the college, having served as president from 1987-2000.

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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