LUMBERTON — The search for retiring Robeson Community College President Charles Chrestman’s successor gets into full swing Sept. 4 when the college’s trustees and consultant Donny Hunter sit down for the first time to map out their strategy.
Hunter, president and CEO of the N.C. Association of Community College Trustees and president of National Search and Education Consulting, was enlisted recently to help the trustees administer the search process. Chrestman’s retirement becomes effective Dec. 31.
Hunter told The Robesonian on Friday that during the past 10 years he has helped about 18 North Carolina community colleges recruit presidents, as well as serving as a consultant for presidential searches for about 50 colleges in other states.
“I really enjoy my time working with the different boards and colleges,” he said.
Hunter’s private business not only conducts searches for college presidents, but also provides leadership training for administrators and governing boards. His educational background includes having been a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent, and consultant with the North Carolina public schools.
According to Lucille Evans, vice chairman of RCC’s trustee board, Hunter was selected from four or five applicants who applied for the consulting position. She said the contract amount between Hunter and the board has not been finalized, but will be about $20,000.
“I think he will do a great job,” Evans said.
Hunter said that anything that has been done in regards to the search to date can be referred to as a “draft.” He said the board is still developing procedures that will be used during the search.
Hunter said his responsibilities will include recruiting applicants and conducting reference checks.
Chrestman said Friday that if needed he will assist in the search for his successor. He added, however, that the search will be more productive if his role is limited.
Chrestman, RCC’s president for almost a decade, announced his retirement early last month after serving 40 years in higher education. He is only the third person to hold the president’s office at RCC.
During Chrestman’s tenure, the college underwent a 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Several educational programs also became nationally accredited, and others are completing self-studies for national accreditation.
Under Chrestman’s leadership, three new buildings were constructed: a Continuing Education building located in COMtech Park; and a Health Science building and a Workforce Development Center, both located on the college’s main campus. Two others were completely renovated, aging roofing systems replaced, and parking areas expanded.
During his tenure, RCC began offering the ACT’s WorkKeys Assessment, which leads to a Career Readiness Certificate. Today, Robeson County ranks in the top three among the state’s 100 counties with more than 5,000 individuals holding the certificate.
The college also landed one of the state’s NCCCS Biotechnology Network regional centers that now serves a statewide role in advancing bio-agriculture.
Chrestman said he is retiring so he can return to his native Mississippi and spend more time with family, including a recently born grandchild.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or bshiles at heartlandpublications.com.