(Editor’s note: Portions of this article were taken from the Haywood County Mountaineer.)
Former Sampson Community College president Dr. William Aiken has a new job, an interim one, that is, in the western part of North Carolina.
Although Haywood Community College is still deep in the search for its next president, the governing board has decided, pending approval from the state, to hire Aiken as the interim president starting Nov. 1, one day after current president Dr. Rose Johnson’s last day on the job.
“I am pleased to have been asked to serve as the interim president of Haywood Community College,” Aiken said.
“Hopefully, I can continue the positive tradition which the institution has established in Western North Carolina. Utilizing my experiences as president of Sampson Community College during the past 12 years will help me facilitate Haywood’s role in the community. Economic development and a well-trained workforce are of vital importance in all areas of North Carolina, and the community college system plays an important part in the process. I look forward to working with all aspects of the college including the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students.”
During his tenure at SCC, Aiken was selected as President of the Year for the North Carolina Community College System. Prior to Sampson, he was a familiar face at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he taught and served various administrative roles. Over a number of years, he was chancellor for administration and finance, associate provost for academic administration and associate professor of education. He received his doctorate in education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
The decision to hire Aiken came just over a week ago at the HCC Board of Trustees meeting, where Aiken was one of three candidates presented by a search team set up in response to the unexpected length of the president search, which was recently widened after five candidates visited the school. In August, the board voted to re-advertise the position with a deadline for applications falling on Oct. 12. So far, 15 people have applied.
While this timeline wasn’t expected, HCC Board President Bob Morris explained that he feels the process is going well and the extra time is appropriate.
“I would rather us make the right decision than a hurried decision,” he said.
He added that he’s fortunate to be working with so many “good, strong” board members who all have the same focus.
“Everybody’s got one goal and that’s that we pick the best president for the college,” he said.
How long this might take is another question, however. After the upcoming deadline, board members will discuss the candidates at the Oct. 23 meeting. Morris hopes then they’ll come up with a few clear favorites, whom they could possibly begin interviewing the week of Oct. 29. Ultimately, Morris said they’d like to see someone in the position by December or January, though the timing will ultimately depend on the board’s final pick.