First ICC finalist holds meet and greet

Feb. 08, 2013 @ 05:10 AM

The first of six finalists for Isothermal Community College (ICC) President conducted a meet and greet at The Foundation on Thursday.

Dr. Gene Couch, Executive Vice President at Alamance Community College in Graham, addressed an audience of ICC faculty and staff and discussed his background before taking questions from the crowd.

Couch is vying for the position held by Dr. Myra Johnson, who will retire at the end of the current school year.

Couch has worked in post-secondary education for the last 27 years and has taught at Garland (Ark.) Community College, East Tennessee State and Western Carolina University.

Prior to earning degrees from East Tennessee State and Mars Hill College, he received an associates of arts in radiologic technology from Southwest Virginia Community College.

"I am a product of a community college," Couch said. "Those experiences have helped to make me who I am today."

Questions from faculty and staff included asking about his leadership style.

"We all have different roles and they are all very important," Couch said. "To me, I don't worry about where a good idea comes from, I want to hear all ideas."

He said there are various challenges facing community colleges, including success rates — meaning those who graduate from a community college and proceed to a four-year university. The current rate of success with North Carolina community colleges is approximately 25 percent.

"We need to be a partner in that and be aware," Couch said.

But, a primary challenge is the access to resources. He asked the audience if any of them have all of the materials they need to do their job in the classroom or beyond.

No one raised their hands.

"With the budget and the economy, it is difficult to do all the things we want to do," Couch said. "It is like a race without a finish line and we will always be striving for that finish line."

He was also asked about the Basic Skills Plus program which allows students working on a General Educational Development (GED) test to also earn college credits.

At Alamance Community College, Couch said that they initially opted out of the program but have since adopted it and have started to implement it.

"I think it has merit and we're excited about the opportunity for additional success," Couch said.

ICC will conduct five more meet and greet sessions with finalists for the president's job. The next session will be at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at The Foundation with Walter Dalton.