Monday, February 26, 2024

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Commendations to ACC for open presidential search process

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We want to commend Alamance Community College’s board of trustees for the open search process used to select the college’s new president, Dr. Ken Ingle.

We’ve always urged that public bodies follow a more open selection process when they select a new top administrator, such as county manager, city manager, school superintendent, etc.

This just seems to make good sense: these are typically key decision-makers – as well as the highest-paid employees – in the county.

ACC followed precisely the model that we believe all public bodies should follow.

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While the trustees have consistently maintained confidentiality for their initial candidate pool – which in this latest search for a new process included more than five dozen applicants – they have also customarily insisted upon holding public forums to introduce their top final contenders.

Advocates for secrecy always insist that providing transparency in the selection process will both limit the number of candidates applying for their top job and effectively screen out the very best candidates who would not want their superiors to know they’re applying for another job.  But the large number of applicants, and the caliber of the finalists, puts that theory to shame.

The open process helps ensure that the public body is not sold a bill of goods, and inadvertently selecting a “lemon” whose flaws weren’t revealed because of the secrecy in such a selection.

By having the finalists publicly identified, those with any knowledge about any potential skeletons can notify the public body – in this case, the trustees – before they make a mistake in entrusting the future of the institution to someone who may not, in actuality, be the best candidate for the position.

ACC also invited each of its three finalists to a daylong visit to the campus and to participate in public forums that gave students, staff, and the general public a chance to get a feel for the finalists – before forwarding the name of their top pick to the State Board of Community Colleges for approval.

Late last month, ACC’s trustees announced that they had selected Ingle to succeed former president Dr. Algie Gatewood, who retired last June after leading ACC for the past decade.

Gatewood, by the way, was selected using the same open search criteria, having been identified as one of the three finalists.  He had an exemplary 10-year tenure, in our judgment.

Ingle, who currently serves as the chief officer of information services at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, is scheduled to start work at ACC on February 1.

In the meantime, Ingle (informally) joined ACC’s trustees for their meeting Monday night, telling an Alamance News reporter that he’s in the process of looking for a house to buy in Alamance County before his official start date at the community college.

We look forward to his arrival, with the hope and expectation that he will provide a similarly good track record to that of Gatewood.

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