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N.C. Community College System aims to post president job beginning of January

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  • The search committee said its goal is to have the position description and the advertising materials completed by the first week in January so that the position can be posted.
  • "We will roll up our sleeves and be back together on January 19," Board Chair Burr Sullivan said. "We've had a long year but we're making great progress toward our goals. I'm very optimistic as we go into a new year and continue our work together."
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The N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) aims to post the role for a new system president at the start of the new year, search committee co-chair Dr. Shirley Carraway said on Friday, Dec. 16, a week after the system announced Buffkin/Baker as the national firm to lead the search.

The State Board of Community College’s presidential search committee met with the firm for the first time on Wednesday, Dec. 14, Carraway said.

“The priority of our first meeting was to refine the position description. Once that position description is completed and approved, the job will be posted and the sourcing for candidates will begin,” she told the Board on Friday. “Our goal is to have the position description and the advertising materials completed by the first week in January so that the position can be posted.”

The search committee will have three total in-person meetings with Buffkin/Baker. Moving forward, the committee will build an official presidential profile using input from a statewide survey and Buffkin/Baker.

On Wednesday, the committee discussed whether a master’s or terminal degree should be required for candidates – a topic that has come up at multiple committee meetings. Most committee members eventually seemed to agree on requiring a graduate degree and listing a terminal degree as a preference. Dr. David Heatherly, president of Coastal Carolina Community College, said listing any preference as a requirement might unnecessarily exclude talented candidates. The committee did not reach a decision.

Out of the more than 1,300 people who responded to the presidential survey, 50% said the minimum requirement should be a doctorate from an accredited institution. Twenty-nine percent said a master’s degree should be the minimum, 14% said a professional degree, and 8% said a bachelor’s.

Committee members also said they want a wide funnel of candidates upfront, including candidates from outside of North Carolina.

Once “a reasonable number of candidates have been identified,” the search committee will make selections for the first round of interviews. After that, a second round of interviews will take place. The system has previously said that it aims to hire a new president in the spring.

Prior to contacting candidates, Carraway said the committee is working on identifying “bragging points” for the system, along with its biggest challenges. She also said the Board must decide an upper limit of compensation ahead of the search. On Wednesday, the committee also talked about whether or not to make finalists public in order to let candidates know upfront.

“We talked about the importance of transparency and confidentiality, especially when we begin to deal with the actual candidates,” Carraway said.

At the end of the presidential committee update, Carraway moved the Board into closed session to consult general counsel about “administrative procedure.”

The presidential search follows former President Thomas Stith’s resignation in July. Stith was the sixth NCCCS president in seven years.

At the meeting’s conclusion, State Board Chair Burr Sullivan commended the Board’s work over the last year.

“We will roll up our sleeves and be back together on January 19,” he said. “We’ve had a long year but we’re making great progress toward our goals. I’m very optimistic as we go into a new year and continue our work together.”

The full Board meets next Jan. 19 and 20.

Other meeting business

  • Alex Fagg, director of government relations, reminded Board members of the upcoming long session in January. The system’s FY 2022-2025 legislative agenda seeks an increase in state funding by $232 million over the next two years in faculty salaries and student investment.
  • The Board approved $1 million from the State Fiscal Recovery Funds for a Construction Training, Building Careers program for colleges “where construction programs currently exist or where there is a demand to expand construction programs.” Funding will be provided for three activities: the development of “construction academies” on college campuses, a curriculum alignment project, and a time-limited position to provide oversight for the project.
  • In closed session, the Board approved Dr. Vern Lindquist as the new president at Johnston Community College. He is the fourth president of the college.
  • The Board also approved four new hires: a deputy director of the Small Business Center Network, an ApprenticeshipNC communications director, an engineer for the Cloud system, and the ninth information security office for the system.
Hannah McClellan

Hannah McClellan is an EducationNC reporter covering community colleges, postsecondary access and faith.