Final BC candidate interviewed

Published 8:25 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

GARY BARNETTE, the sixth and final candidate interviewed for the presidency of Bainbridge College, talks with students on Thursday. The committee is scheduled to forward three to fifth unranked candidates, one of whom will likely replace Tom Wilkerson.|Carol Heard

The sixth and final candidate for Bainbridge College president said Thursday he knows the community and he loves it.

Gary Barnette, the vice president for student affairs interim vice president for academic affairs at Darton College in Albany, said he visits the area often and is familiar with Bainbridge College.

“I’m a Georgia boy,” Barnette told students Thursday during one of three sessions he was scheduled to talk with representatives of the college and community. “I love small communities, and I love this community.”

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Tonya Strickland, chair of the BC presidential search committee, said this weekend will be the last time students, BC staff and faculty, and the public may comment on each candidate. Comments may be made by going to the committee’s Web site,

The committee is scheduled next week to then forward to the University System of Georgia three to five unranked candidates, one of whom will mostly replace retiring President Tom Wilkerson.

The Board of Regents will then review the information submitted by the committee and make a recommendation on the finalists. When the search committee formed earlier this year, a tentative timetable for announcing the new president was October.

Barnette said the college is poised to offer athletic programs, and with athletic programs often times student housing follows. But Barnette said he would like to first see if the students, staff and community are in favor of athletic programs. He also said planning for problems is essential in implementing any such programs.

But in order to recruit from the outside to fill the athletic program’s rosters, housing is an essential component, Barnette said.

“We (the college) can be an economic boast from bringing students in from the outside,” Barnette said.

Barnette has served during a transformative period for Darton, including major capital improvements and record enrollment growth.

The other five candidates are Bradley J. Ebersole of Baton Rouge, La., Neil Aspinwall of Waycross, Ga., Graham Hatcher of Tuscaloosa, Ala., Thom Baynum of Texas, Richard Carvajal of Bothell, Wash., and Barnette.