The information about his decision to retire June 30 came last week too close to deadline for us to comment, but we don’t want Dr. Algie Gatewood’s impending departure to pass without commenting on his laudable 10-year tenure at the helm of Alamance Community College.
We cannot imagine a better decade of service and leadership than Gatewood has provided.
Gatewood, a native North Carolinian, returned here in 2013 after nine years at an Oregon community college. He has been, in our observation and experience, unfailingly professional, accessible, courteous, patient, positive, and collaborative.
He led the campaign for a $39.6 million bond referendum in 2018 – for which, we hasten to acknowledge, we did not share his enthusiasm. But he targeted projects that, if funded, might have an impact on serving students and further improving the college’s already strong reputation.
He has skillfully and successfully managed one of the county’s greatest assets – i.e., the community college – while staying out of partisan politics. (Both are traits not to be taken for granted.)
As a black educator, he’s probably been a bit more sympathetic to some of the diversity, equity, and inclusion ideas that are popular in education circles at all levels today. But, relatively speaking, these have not been as radical or obnoxious as those at other educational institutions across the state and nation.
Gatewood has been a stellar representative at any civic club that would invite him. He has been consistently engaged with the community, a veritable one-man public relations department.
When the county commissioners haven’t given him everything he wanted for the college, he has tried to persuade, rather than berate them – a commendable, and different, approach from his predecessor and other education leaders in the county.
And, in the long run, his persistence (without acerbic or revengeful rhetoric) has often succeeded on numerous occasions in ultimately achieving what he advocated.
We don’t know that we’ve ever seen (or heard of) Gatewood being angry, or even irritable. (Perhaps his inner circle has seen a side we haven’t.)
But his consistently professional and positive demeanor has done as much to elevate the community college’s reputation in the public eye as any program or policy he could have advanced.
ACC’s board of trustees will be hard-pressed to find a successor who can replicate all of Gatewood’s many best qualities.
At 71, he’s certainly entitled to retirement. We’ve known each year when his contract renewal rolled around that the community college was, in essence, on “borrowed time” to keep him at the helm.
We wish him the very best. He has left big shoes, and very high standards of excellence, to fill.