Candidates to head community college vetted in Sorrento

Students, faculty, foundation board members and community leaders have quizzed four candidates vying for the vacant chancellor’s job at River Parishes Community College.

Dale A. Doty, Olin Joynton, Neil Matkin and Jeffrey A. Smith answered questions Wednesday about their experience with fundraising, workforce development programs, media relations, state legislatures and politicians.

Each finalist spent 45 minutes in four different sessions talking to the various groups in the morning and took part in afternoon interviews with the search committee and Louisiana Community and Technical College System President Joe D. May.

Many of the questions asked of the applicants centered around their fundraising experience, since new quarters to house the college’s academic programming and administrative offices are under construction in Gonzales. While funding is in place for the college’s main academic buildings, the college’s foundation board is raising money to build a technology center.

The community and technical college is currently located in a leased facility on La. 22 in Sorrento. Plans call for the college’s new $17 million Gonzales campus to open in March.

Smith, the vice president of administration and student affairs at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., said he has experience soliciting funding from alumni, community members, churches and businesses. Smith said the key to most fundraising is to ask for the money with a purpose in mind.

He said he also has written grants to supplement dwindling budgets.

“I do a lot of this,” Joynton said when asked about his fundraising experience.

Joynton, who is in his 10th year as president of Alpena Community College in Alpena, Mich., said he is working with his college’s foundation board to raise $5 million for an expansion project.

Working with business and industry to provide training and job-ready graduates was another top question posed to the candidates.

Doty, vice president of academic affairs at Florence-Darlington Technical College in Florence, S.C., said building relationships with the industrial sector is key to developing the programs needed in college’s workforce development programs.

Doty, who worked with Southern Tool Co. in Colorado and Louisiana for 16 years, said he updated and developed technical programs that served the manufacturing economy while working at Western Colorado Community College, a division of Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colo.

Matkin, who is the state Community and Technical College System’s executive vice president, had experience at a Texas college that was near 146 chemical and petrochemical companies. He said he worked with many of those industrial sites to fill their training and workforce needs.

He said he also worked to expand the college process technology program.

All the candidates stressed the importance of developing relationships with local business and industry representatives and working with the community leaders to identify education needs.

System President May said he plans to announce his recommendation on which candidate to pick at the system board’s Sept. 11 meeting in Many.

The chancellor’s job at River Parishes Community College became open last month upon the retirement of Joe Ben Welch, who had headed the college since it opened in 1999.