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New president remains unknown

AHOSKIE – The Roanoke-Chowan Community College Board of Trustees have reached an agreement on who may become the institution’s next president, but the final decision rests with the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges.

And, based on a new policy enacted by the state board, the public will not be advised on the identity of the preferred candidate until the state board members cast their votes next month.

Dr. Dreand Johnson (Ph.D) and Dr. Murray Jean Williams (Ed.D) were the two finalists for the RCCC job. They each took part in a public forum held on Wednesday at the college where the duo answered questions during an event with limited live attendance along with those taking part in a virtual format.

The RCCC Trustees met following the forum and made their choice.

“We were ready to announce our decision, but were advised that wasn’t possible at this particular time due to the [state board’s] policy,” stated Jeri Pierce, Chair of the RCCC Trustees. “We knew that the state board makes the final decision on the candidate we recommend for the position, but we were unaware that we prevented from publically announcing that decision prior to the state board conducting their meeting.”

Pierce said she contacted the chair of the state board to inquire about the policy and was informed of the change, which she said was made approximately one year ago.

She added that the state board is scheduled to meet the third week of March where among the items on their agenda is to take action on the name submitted by the RCCC Trustees.

“Until that time, we cannot publically reveal that name,” Pierce said. “We have informed the two finalists of our decision and informed them of the state policy regarding the public release of this information.”

As for Wednesday’s public forums, Pierce said she and her board colleagues were pleased with the outcome.

“Everything went smoothly and both candidates were appreciative of the hospitality they received and they spoke highly of our college and our community,” she noted.

At the outset of the presidential search process, Pierce said RCCC received 55 applications.

“We were very pleased with that number; it showed there was a lot of interest among those seeking to become our next president,” Pierce remarked.

The RCCC Trustees eventually narrowed the number of applicants to 12; then to four, and finally to the final two.

Pierce said the early rounds of interviews were conducted on Zoom. As the field of candidates narrowed to single digits, those interviews were held on the RCCC campus.

Once approved by the state board, either Dr. Johnson or Dr. Williams will replace Dr. Deborah Lamm, the second interim RCCC president to serve following the resignation of Dr. Stanley Elliott in July of 2019.

Dr. Elliott served as RCCC president for nearly two years. Dr. Audre Levy was named interim president following Elliott’s departure. Levy left in June of last year and was followed in the interim role by Dr. Lamm.

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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