New president won't be named until fall

Daily Mountain Eagle The head of the state’s two-year college system said Tuesday the new president of Bevill State Community College will not likely be named until September at the earliest. Jimmy Baker, Alabama Community College System chancellor, answered questions about the vacancy after a ceremony where BSCC and Alabama Power signed a memorandum of understanding and joint program development agreement allowing an HVAC Training Center to relocate to Jasper. Dr. Larry Ferguson resigned as president of the college in February. Dr. Kim Ennis, who serves as Bevill State’s executive vice president, is currently serving as interim president. “We posted the vacancy and that deadline passed last Monday I believe, for the applications,” Baker said. “I haven’t even had a chance to look at the application file. So it will be a while.” He said realistically at this point, “it would have to be at least as late as September.” Baker noted, “By the time you go through a process with a committee and evaluate the applications, and you narrow it down to those you are really seriously going to look at, and do background searches, it takes a good while.” He said a committee will be appointed with community people and representatives of the college to look through the applications. The committee could call to find answers to questions they may have. “I’m sure we’ll have a significant number of applications,” he said, saying the committee will look through those to come up with a workable number of finalists that meet the qualifications and are people that should be considered. “Once we reduce it down to that level, then we’ll start doing background searches and all that,” Baker said. “Eventually we will end up with the candidates we have narrowed it down to in for an interview with the committee.” Those will probably not be public meetings, he said.

Once that is done and it is narrowed down to maybe three people, at least two board members, Baker and his executive staff will then interview the finalists, he said. Then Baker will make a recommendation for the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees to select as president. Baker indicated the interview process will not be disruptive for the work going on at Bevill State. “We’ve got so much going on here right now, I don’t intend to interfere with this progressing as it should,” he said. Asked about how he feels Bevill State is doing as a whole, Baker said, “Honestly, I feel Bevill State is doing well right now. It is not doing everything we want to do. We want to expand what they are offering in workforce.” He noted the HVAC center is a move in that direction, but it is not the only one desired. “Then we want to strengthen the academic programs, and we feel like we need to be recruiting more students, developing a way to work with the high schools and maybe even begin to introduce some of the technical training programs early in the (K-12) schools so kids can look at the options. ‘We got to go to college but what am I going to do?’ Maybe they can see something that attracts them and begin to make some early decisions about what their choices are.” He said the system is in the process of developing some software so students can go online and see requirements and general income for jobs, such as welders. Baker gave a strong response about an administrative desire to keep all the current Bevill campuses in operation for the convenience of students. “The average person probably doesn’t realize this, but we still have people in this state and in this service area who have a difficult time getting to work. I don’t want to make it harder to get an education. I want to make it easier to get an education,” Baker said. “We can’t teach at every crossroad, but I just think we need to utilize the assets we have and let’s expand the offerings. That is where I am, and I know that is where the board of trustees is.” Gov. Kay Ivey serves as president of the board of trustees, while Frank Caldwell of Jasper is the District 4 member. Jeff Newman, a member of the Alabama State Board of Education who represents Walker County in District 7, also serves on the board as an ex officio member.