Vance-Granville Community College’s Board of Trustees has narrowed the search for the college’s next President to three candidates.
A search committee composed of six board members recommended five candidates from among nearly 90 applicants for the position, and the full board selected these finalists:
● Dr. Rachel M. Desmarais of Clemmons, who is currently serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem;
● Dr. Quentin J. Johnson of Mooresville, currently vice president of Student Support Services at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro; and
● Dr. Melanie W. Thornton of Albany, Ga., the vice president of academic affairs at Columbus Technical College in Columbus, Ga.
The action came Monday, Nov. 19, at the regular bimonthly meeting of the board on the college’s Main Campus.
Following protocol established by the North Carolina Community College System, the trustees now present the finalists to the State Board of Community Colleges for vetting. The three candidates will be invited to the college for public forums individually on Nov. 30, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4.
“We are extremely pleased with the quality of the candidates who are interested in the position, and we are confident that we are on track to select an excellent leader to carry our college into our 50th year and beyond,” said Danny W. Wright, chair of the VGCC Board of Trustees. “We want for Vance-Granville a president with visionary leadership and a commitment to student access and success, and economic development in the communities we serve.”
The board plans to have the new president in place early in 2019.
Invitations to the forums are being sent to county officials, school officials, area chambers, and VGCC faculty and staff, among other groups. The public is invited to attend. The forums will be held in the Civic Center on the Main Campus. Each will begin at 12:15 p.m. Dr. Johnson is scheduled to speak at the Friday, Nov. 30, forum; Dr. Thornton, on Monday, Dec. 3; and Dr. Desmarais, on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Dr. Desmarais earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Instructional Design and Technology from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., in 2015. She earned her Master of Science degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her Bachelor of Music degree from Mars Hill College. She was an Aspen Institute Community College Excellence Presidential Fellow in 2017-2018. She has been with Forsyth Technical Community College since 2002, starting as a department chair before becoming a vice president in information services and in planning.
Dr. Johnson earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, Md., in 2010. He earned his Master of Arts from Bowling Green State University and his Bachelor of Science from Defiance College in Ohio. Prior to beginning work at Guilford Technical Community College in July 2012, he worked with Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College in West Virginia in 2011-2012 and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore from 2004 to 2011.
Dr. Thornton earned her Doctor of Education degree in Curriculum Studies from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., in 2007. She received her Education Specialist degree from Troy University in 2002, two Master of Education degrees from Georgia Southwestern State University in 1995 and 1997, and her Bachelor of Science degree from Albany State University in 1991. Prior to going to Columbus Technical College in 2013, she was vice president for Academic Affairs at Okefenokee Technical College in 2012-2013, and Dean and Professor of Reading at Darton State College in Albany, Ga., in 2007-2012.
The Board of Trustees began accepting applications for the position on Oct. 8 with a deadline of Nov. 9 for applications and nominations. A nationwide search was conducted under the guidance of the firm of Executive Leadership Associates (ELA) LLP of Emerald Isle. ELA, described as “a consortium of former North Carolina community college presidents who are committed to ensuring that our internationally recognized community college system continues its proud tradition of excellence,” was selected by the Board of Trustees at its Sept. 17 meeting. The firm helped the Trustees by creating the presidential profile of the ideal candidate needed, guiding the search process, and recruiting and screening applicants, as needed.
Serving on the Trustees’ presidential search committee were Trustees Deborah Brown, chair; Herb Gregory, vice chair; N. Annette P. Myers, Abdul Sm Rasheed, Donald C. Seifert, Sr., and Sara C. Wester.
(Also at the November meeting, the Board of Trustees celebrated a Faculty & Staff Drive for the VGCC Endowment Fund that netted $16,000. See related story for more details on the board meeting.)