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The I.E. Ready Distinguished Leader Award, which honors an N.C. State University graduate for exceptional leadership in the community college system, was presented to A-B Tech president John Gossett during the Dallas Herring Lecture on Nov. 10.

The lecture is held annually by the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research at NCSU as a forum to discuss issues facing the state’s community colleges.

“I am humbled to be chosen for the I.E. Ready Award,” Gossett told EdNC.org in an email. “The leaders recognized by NCSU who came before me are some of the giants in our industry.  I am thankful to be named along side them and will continue to work for our students, faculty & staff in the NC Community College System to uphold the ideals and vision of I.E. Ready.”

Gossett has worked in the North Carolina Community College system for 32 years. Before he assumed the presidency of A-B Tech on July 1, he served as president of McDowell Tech.

“John truly has a servant’s heart. There aren’t many people who know the community college business better,” Bill Carver, the system’s interim president, said in a Belk Center release. Carver received the 2019 I.E. Ready award for his leadership at Nash Community College.

“Don’t be fooled by his laid-back style; his record speaks for itself,” Carver said. “He leads with compassion for those around him and most importantly, the students that experience the learning environment he champions.”

Gossett and I exchanged text messages Wednesday and Thursday after he won the award. I asked him when he “knew” he wanted to be a community college president.

“I’m not sure there ever was one striking moment when I decided I wanted to be a president,” he replied. “It was an evolving process as I had opportunities throughout my career.

“Ken Boham, a mentor and friend, once told me something that has stuck with me over the years. When I asked Ken for some insight about a particular job, Ken said (in only the way Ken can), ‘What are you waiting for?’ As close as any, that comment from someone who is doing the job of president believed I can do it too.”

Gossett went on to share more about the leadership lessons he has gained throughout his career. The presidents he worked with, he said, taught him to have a model that puts people first, perfects processes, and trusts that the metrics that matter will take care of themselves.

“I believe the main things are the plain things, so the Golden Rule (treat people the way you want to be treated) is important to me,” Gossett said. “While I am always working to improve, communication is very important.

“I also think it is important to take care of our faculty and staff, who will then take care of our students. Finally, you know me well enough to know that I need laughter in my life!”

The award is named after I.E. Ready, the first president of the NC Community College system.

The Belk Center released the following video during the virtual Herring Lecture to announce the award:

The I.E. Ready announcement video, courtesy of the NC State Belk Center.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.