Presidential search given marching orders

Published 8:13 pm Friday, April 16, 2010

The committee charged with searching for a new president of Bainbridge College was given its marching orders Friday, with the members urged not to look for a clone of retiring President Tom Wilkerson.

“The college is not the same college it was in 2005,” said Rob Watts, University System chief operating officer. “Put out of your mind to clone the president…Presidents don’t always come in the same boxes.”

Part of the meeting was for the 10 members to introduce themselves, and another part was for them to express the one pressing issue that the next president must deal with.

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Watts stressed that Bainbridge College has been run well in the past five years when Wilkerson first came in 2005, and that the college isn’t in the position of the next president trying to get the “ox out of the ditch.”

The Presidential Search and Screen Committee will be chaired by Tonya Strickland, chair of the Division of Learning Support and interim chair of the Division of Arts and Sciences at Bainbridge College.

The rest of the committee’s membership is as follows: David Pollock, Joan Simpson, Michael Kirkland, Ann Brannen and Amy Wells, who all represent all Bainbridge College; Patricia Williams, the student representative, and the remaining members are Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds, Bainbridge City Councilman Luther Conyers Jr., who also serves with the college’s foundation, Bainbridge City Councilwoman Glennie Bench, who also serves as chief financial officer of Southwest Georgia Oil Company.

Among the pressing issues the committee members enumerated were the unprecedented growth of its student body and the number of underprepared students; lack of physical space for the college’s growing population; the continued importance of the blending of the technical studies and the academic studies that co-exist at the college; community relations; the budget cuts and managing that student population growth; attracting good faculty, and the blending of the Bainbridge and Blakely campuses.

Watts said the members should not only accept those applications from those seeking the job, but also try to recruit and attract candidates who aren’t actively seeking the job. “Part of it is marketing your college,” Watts said.

Board of Regent member Doreen Stiles Poitevint and Watts said the committee’s job is to forward to the Board of Regents three to five viable presidential candidates.

Regents Richard L. Tucker, Benjamin Tarbutton III, Larry R. Ellis and Board of Regents Chair Robert F. Hatcher will serve as members of the Special Regents Search Committee, chaired by Regent Poitevint.

This committee is responsible for recommending finalists to Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr., who will make a recommendation to the full Board of Regents.

Watts suggested a timeline, which would be firmly set by the committee. That timeline could be reviewing the applications in June, forwarding the finalists to the Board of Regents in September, and have the new president named in October.