Public meets ECC president finalists


Staff Writer

Thursday, June 7, 2018

TARBORO — The three finalists vying to become the next president of Edgecombe Community College gave their reasons on Wednesday why they should lead the college in the future.

ECC’s Board of Trustees held a “Meet the Candidates” forum in the Mobley Atrium of the Fleming Building on the college’s Tarboro campus. The three candidates looking to replace former president Dr. Deborah Lamm, who served as college president for 14 years, are Dr. Gregory McLeod, Dr. Deborah Grimes and Dr. Gene Smith.

The Board of Trustees recently named Mark S. Lorence, general counsel and chief advancement officer of the college, as acting president of ECC. 

The candidates were given five minutes to address the crowd that consisted of trustees, administration, faculty, students and county residents. Following the candidate statements, there was a meet-and-greet where people could interact with and ask questions of the candidates.

McLeod has served since 2015 as the provost/chief campus administrative officer for academic student affairs for the Historic Triangle Campus of Thomas Nelson College in Virginia. He also serves as the interim dean of health professions at the school.

McLeod talked about how much the college has grown from opening in a single building in 1967 to how it continues to expand. While ECC celebrated 50 years last year, McLeod said he believes many of the best years are ahead, and he wants to be part of that growth.

“If I’m afforded the opportunity to serve as president, I’m looking forward to working with each and every one of you to continue the great work of Dr. Lamm,” McLeod said. “I’m hoping 50 years from now when our children and grandchildren are preparing the college’s 100th anniversary, they will look proudly upon our efforts. They will see how much this college has made a difference in their lives and for our community.”

Grimes, who has worked at various positions at Lenoir Community College in Kinston, has served as senior vice president of instruction and student services there since 2015. In 2016, Grimes was a finalist for president at Wayne Community College. Grimes talked about her familarity with the college having worked with Lamm in her role at Lenoir and with different ECC departments.

Grimes said with new industries such as Triangle Tire coming into the area, the college is vital in training and preparing people to become gainfully employed in the workforce, and business and industry leaders are entrusting the college to make sure that happens.

“It would be an honor and privilege to be part of the excitement and serve as the leader of this great college,” she said.

Smith has been the vice president of academic and students service at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro since 2013. Smith talked about his career rise at Wayne Community College and his experience in working with most every aspect of the college from its new business office to the college’s foundation that helps raise money for student scholarships.

“I’m student-focused, and I want to help transform the life of students while we work together,” Smith said. “If I’m fortunate to become your next president, I will be out in the community working with business and industry leaders to find out how ECC can meet their needs.”

Dr. Jerry Price, chairman of the ECC Board of Trustees, said the three finalists were chosen from a field of 60 candidates across the country. Price added the board has done extensive background checks and met with each candidate individually.

Price said the board will take feedback from the forum and probably get together in another week to rank the candidates. The plan is to have a new president in place by next month.

“What we’re looking for is the best fit because we need a candidate that can really hit the ground running because we have so many existing projects in the works,” Price said. “We don’t want to spend a year or two training a candidate. We need someone with the experience to lead us very quickly. We know we’re going to get a good president from these three finalists, and that’s very encouraging.”