SANFORD - Dr. T. Eston "Bud" Marchant III, Central Carolina Community College's new president, sat at his desk on the Lee County Campus, feeling good about his new position.
"I knew this was a unique and special place when I applied for the presidency," he said. "I was honored to be asked by the trustees to be president."
Marchant succeeds President Matt Garrett, whose official retirement date is Sept. 1. Garrett has stepped down from the presidency, but will remain at the Lee Campus in another office until the end of August, available to assist Marchant in making the transition for the new president and college as seamless as possible.
"It is impossible for any animal or organization to live with two heads," Garrett said, "so Dr. Marchant and I agreed that he is now the president of CCCC. I'm sure this transition will be a time of creativity and progress in the life of this great college.
"I am very impressed with Dr. Marchant," he added. "He is friendly, caring, and very knowledgeable about community colleges. It will be obvious to all who meet him that our board of trustees made a wise choice."
Garrett has served 30 years in the North Carolina Community College System. Sept. 1 marks exactly 21 years since he came to Central Carolina C.C. in 1987 as director of admissions. He has held various positions at the college during his career, serving as president for the last four years.
Marchant spent part of Monday, Aug. 18 - his second day - at the Lee County Campus' Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, observing student registration for fall classes.
"I was very impressed," he said. "It was very well organized. The faculty's enthusiasm about their programs came through as they talked to students, putting the students at ease and making them enthusiastic about the programs."
He is quickly becoming familiar with the college's employees, programs, and long-range and facilities master plans, as well as visiting college locations.
"We are the community's college," Marchant said. "We are the front door for economic opportunity in the community, the college for people to gain skills in technology and other vocational training or prepare for university transfer. The college can never lose sight of the fact that we are here to prepare people for the workforce, to provide training so that people can go out and provide for themselves. It is vital for a community college to play that role and play it well."
He and Garrett are spending time out in the communities in Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties, with the new president meeting many people in local business and industry, government, and education with whom he will be working closely as he leads the college into the future.
"I'm looking forward to being heavily involved in the communities in our service area," Marchant said. "We need to very involved in the chambers of commerce and economic development agencies. We have to let businesses know that they are welcome. We want them to help us shape our vision. All of us have the same goal - that the business climate will be strong and businesses can come and find employees."
Bob Heuts, director of the Lee County Economic Development Corporation, met the new president at the Aug. 20 LCEDC board meeting. As college president, Marchant is a sitting member of the board.
"Dr. Marchant was very interested, very willing to be part of the process at the LCEDC," Heuts said. "He's had plenty of experience in chamber of commerce work and with development-type issues. My first impression - and I believe strongly in first impressions - is that he seemed very good for his new position. I look forward to working with him."
Marchant, 54, came to Central Carolina Community College from his position as vice president for Educational Affairs at Piedmont Technical College, a multi-county college in South Carolina. His educational career includes K-12 teaching and administration as well as community and technical college administrative positions in North and South Carolina. He also brings a strong understanding of the relationship between community colleges and their business communities, having served four years as the chief executive officer for the Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce in Beaufort, S.C.
"From the beginning, I saw that CCCC was a good fit - multi-campus, quality, innovation," Marchant said. "I was excited to see how many campuses it has and its commitment to bring education to its communities. I was also familiar with its reputation for excellence and innovation. I love the idea of quality instruction and service to the community, and being on the cutting edge. The people I've met have reinforced the notion that Central Carolina Community College is a special place and is well-respected in the community."
In its 47-year history, Central Carolina has had only five presidents: Dr. William A. Martin, 1961-69; Dr. Jeff "J.F." Hockaday, 1969-83; Dr. Marvin R. Joyner, 1983-2004; Dr. Matthew Garrett, 2004-08; and now, Dr. Bud Marchant.