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Perspective | Looking back on my time as Community College System President

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I’d like to share a few words of reflection as I conclude my service as the president of the North Carolina Community College System.

As I visited each of the “Great 58” North Carolina community colleges during my first year as president, I took in the similarities and uniqueness of each college. Just as each of us has a distinctive style, so does each of our community colleges.

What they share — and what we share — is a commitment to excellence, expansion of opportunity, and a belief that we hold North Carolina’s future in our hands. Because of our collective work, the future of the system shines bright.

A few noteworthy milestones during my tenure:

  • Historic budget support for the North Carolina Community College System.
  • Increase in Fall 2021 enrollment despite the national trend of continued enrollment decline.
  • Received multi-million-dollar grants to support apprenticeship, adult learners, minority students, and other key student populations.
  • Assembled a senior team reflecting a historic level of diversity.

As a man of faith, I believe I was commissioned to do a job at the North Carolina Community College System at this specific time. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”

The past year and a half was my season, and working alongside the presidents, trustees, State Board, and our passionate, talented staff was truly my purpose under heaven. As I go forward into what God has for me next, I will be better for having had this experience.

In closing, I find peace in the words of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Thomas A. Stith III

Thomas A. Stith III became the 10th president of the NCCCS on January 11, 2021. Prior to his selection he was district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration, where he led the federal agency’s $16 billion response to COVID-19 in North Carolina.

Stith served as chief of staff to former Gov. Pat McCrory and was a three-term city council member in Durham. Stith has extensive experience in both private and public sector executive roles during his professional career. Stith holds a bachelor’s degree in management and an MBA in marketing from North Carolina Central University.

He has served on the boards of the Golden LEAF Foundation, the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership, the United Way of the Greater Triangle, North Carolina Leadership Forum member, and is a deacon at Union Baptist Church. He and his wife Yolanda have three daughters – Kara, Kiah and Kira.