[Editor’s note: the following editorial was published this week by the Raleigh-based nonprofit, Higher Ed Works in the immediate aftermath of the resignation of state community college system president, Thomas Stith.]
Until the middle of the last decade, leaders of the UNC and NC Community College Systems generally stayed for five to seven years.
But with the announcement today that President Thomas Stith III will depart the Community College System Office in Raleigh Friday after little more than 18 months as president, the state’s community colleges will have had seven presidents or interim presidents since 2015.
Similarly, the UNC System has had five presidents or interim presidents over the same period.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Large institutions – a university system with 17 campuses, a community college system with 58 colleges – need stable leadership.
Stith, chief of staff to former Gov. Pat McCrory, was chosen by a bipartisan State Board of Community Colleges in December 2020. The reasons for his removal as President still aren’t entirely known, but he has seen an exodus of key personnel from the NCCCS Office.
(The State Board voted Wednesday to name Bill Carver, the former president of Nash Community College who has served as interim president before, as Interim President.1)
THIS COMES AFTER North Carolina adopted an ambitious goal to have 2 million people ages 25-44 with post-secondary degrees or credentials by 2030 – before the coronavirus pandemic.
Community colleges are expected to play an enormous part in meeting that goal.
Further, the state has recently promised billions of dollars in incentives to new employers like Toyota, Apple, Google, VinFast and Boom Supersonic, and community colleges are expected to provide training for workers at those facilities.
If this state has any chance of meeting those goals, it needs stable leadership.
But so far, we haven’t seen it. Read more