Powell steps down as CCCC board chairman
SANFORD - Bobby Powell steps down from his chairmanship of the Central Carolina Community College Board of Trustees on July 28 after serving the maximum of four one-year terms allowed by the board’s bylaws.
Powell has served in that position since July 2006, when the other board members first elected him as the chairman. He said he plans to continue serving as a board member, as he has done for 16 years.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as chairman,” Powell said. “It was humbling that the rest of the board members wanted me to serve four terms. I plan to keep serving on the board as long as I know I’m being effective.”
All community college trustees are appointees. The Lee County Board of Education first appointed Powell to the board of trustees to serve from February 1992 to June 1993, completing the term of Helen Holder, who had passed away. In 1996, Gov. Jim Hunt appointed him to the board. Since then, he has been reappointed by Govs. Mike Easley and Bev Perdue. His current term ends in 2012.
In addition to his four years as board chairman, Powell has served terms as chairman of the Building and Grounds, Personnel, and Program committees, as well as a member of those committees and the Finance Committee.
“Bobby Powell has given unstintingly of his time, experience, and insight to our board of trustees,” said Central Carolina C.C. President Bud Marchant. “We appreciate the leadership he has provided over the past four years and look forward to his continuing as a board member for many more years.”
Powell said sometimes, as board chairman, the hardest thing for him was to listen to everyone else’s opinion about an issue before he expressed his own.
“My wife, Linda, constantly reminded me that being chairman was not about me, it was about the college,” he said with a smile. “I had to learn to wait and listen. Now, as a member, my role will be to support the new chairman and the college president as I always have.”
Powell has seen many changes at Central Carolina Community College in his years on the board.
“Nothing stays the same,” he said. “If it did, we wouldn’t be serving our constituency.”
“It’s staggering how we’ve grown in all three counties that we serve, Chatham, Harnett and Lee.”
Some indications of that growth in recent years are the acquisition of 56 acres that more than doubled the size of the Lee County Campus, construction of the N.C. School of Telecommunications, a new Lee Campus science/administration building, and Emergency Services Training Center buildings.
A Sustainable Technologies Center and the Chatham Community Library at the Pittsboro campus and the new Siler City Center are going up in Chatham. In Harnett, the college opened its first permanent classroom building in western Harnett County with the construction of the West Harnett Center. A new classroom building was completed on the Harnett Campus.
The college continues to be a leader in innovative programs, Powell said, particularly in green, sustainable programs such as biofuels, sustainable agriculture, weatherization, and other courses.
With all the changes, Powell said some things have remained the same. The basic mission of the college hasn’t changed: Enhancing students’ lives and the lives of their families through education and, by doing so, enhancing the community as well.
“Every employee understands that we’re here for a single purpose: to serve the students,” he said. “If we’re not doing that, then there’s no reason to be here. We can’t forget that.”
The tradition of strong leadership continues, Powell said. The college has had only five presidents in its 49-year history: William Martin, J.F. Hockaday, Marvin Joyner, Matthew Garrett, and Bud Marchant. Each brought his own style, but all were strong leaders, enabling the college to respond to the changing educational needs of its communities.
“The most important role of the board is to hire the best person to serve as the college’s president and then let him do his job,” Powell said. “I feel we’ve done a good job in that with the hiring of Dr. Garrett in 2004 and Dr. Marchant in 2008. The president is responsible for steering the ship. A good board functions in an advisory role; it doesn’t micromanage a college. A good chairman sees that that doesn’t happen.”
He added that the college’s ability to serve each county’s needs goes back to the fact that the communities it serves dictate what they need from the college, rather than the other way around.
Something else that hasn’t changed is what Powell called the college’s “uncanny ability” to get the most out of the funding it receives.
“There’s never enough money,” he said. “We’ve been able to do the job by innovative, dedicated employees from top to bottom. Not one person is more important than another when it comes to the mission of the college.”
The college has also been well-served by the board of trustees, according to Powell.
“No chairman is stronger than the board he serves with,” he said. “I remember well many of the people who have served on the board. All were strong and served to see the college become better. The only thing I bring to the table is commonsense and fairness. I feel that, if you bring that, you’re all right.”
Powell came to Sanford from Roanoke Rapids in 1962. Since then, in addition to his work with the college, he has been actively involved in the community. In 2007, he was awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor the governor of North Carolina can bestow on a citizen of the state. It is given only to those who have a long record of extraordinary service to the state or their community.
From 1967 to 1998, Powell was head PGA professional, club manager and course superintendent at the Sanford Golf Course and a City of Sanford department head. He is a life member of the Professional Golfers Association of America and a member of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association. The Louis W. (Bobby) Powell Golf Management Scholarship Fund at Campbell University was established in his honor.
In Lee County, Powell served on the board of education for 12 years, was the first coordinator of the Community Action Programs, and directed the first Head Start program. He still serves on the CCCC Foundation Board of Directors.
In addition, Powell was a member of the Sanford Exchange Club for 37 years, Sanford Chamber of Commerce, and Lee County Committee of 100. He has served on the Lee County Airport Authority and on the Capital Bank local board of directors. Powell is a Shriner and a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.
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