HCC brings on interim president for short stint

Haywood Community College trustees have picked an interim president to replace current leader Rose Johnson who will retire at the end of this month.

William Aiken will start as interim president at HCC on Nov. 1. He served as president of Sampson Community College in Clinton for more than a decade.

“Hopefully, I have something to offer having spent 12 years as president of another community college in North Carolina,” Aiken said. “I think it is really important that the college does not lose any momentum.”

The HCC Board of Trustees hopes to hire a permanent president by January.

Aiken said he plans to keep the college on track with its strategic plan during his brief time.

It is unknown how much Aiken will earn during his short tenure since the contract has not been finalized. However, Aiken said an unnamed individual has offered him temporary housing.

Aiken was chosen from half a dozen other former community college presidents, said Bob Morris, chair of the HCC Board of Trustees.

The state keeps a list of retired presidents who are willing to serve on an interim basis. Morris said Aiken was chosen because he is a “good, steady person” and “somebody that can continue on the goodness of the college.”

In 2010, Aiken, 69, was named North Carolina community college president of the year.

The need for an interim president arose after trustees couldn’t agree on a permanent candidate in time to take Johnson’s place.

The HCC Board of Trustees started looking for a new president last school year, narrowed its applicant pool to three but could not agree on which one they liked. The board put out the call for another round of applications, which are due this week.

The college has already received 24 applications.

“I am tickled to death to have 24,” Morris said.

The Board of Trustees will meet on Oct. 23 to talk about the applicants. Morris said he hopes to narrow the applications.

Although the board narrowed it to three during its previous search, Morris said they do not plan to limit the number of finalists this go-round.

The process has not yet been decided on, but Morris said it is not likely that the college will host community meet-and-greet with its finalists for time reasons.

“This time is for expediting reasons,” Morris said, adding that he hopes to have someone chosen by the start of spring semester in January. “That would be an ideal time to transition.”

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