One week after his contract was renewed for another year, Sampson Community College president Dr. Paul Hutchins has turned in a letter to the Board of Trustees notifying them of his intent to retire.
The letter, which was addressed to the board and delivered to board chairman Michael Chestnutt, stated that it was Hutchins’ desire to retire as president of Sampson Community College at the end of the coming academic year on June 30, 2018.
During the trustees’ meeting last week, a split vote extended Hutchins’ contract through June of next year. The vote came after a lengthy closed session meeting discussing the results of a survey completed by college employees and the board’s wishes concerning Hutchins’ employment.
“It has been, and will continue to be for the next academic year, my distinct honor to serve as the president of Sampson Community College,” the president noted in his letter. “This college is an extraordinary institution of higher education with some of the finest faculty, staff and administration with whom I have ever worked.”
When contacted Tuesday morning about the president’s announcement to retire, Chestnutt said despite last week’s extension, the letter didn’t come as a surprise.
“There are a lot of changes happening in the education system,” Chestnutt noted. “The retirement is just a normal, natural progression for Paul. We wish him well, but I’m sure he will finish the things he has helped get started at the college.”
Despite the one-year extension, Hutchins said he decided to proceed with making the announcement of his retirement to allow the college ample time to find the perfect fit for the next president.
“It’s better for a college if they know the president is leaving to know as soon as possible,” Hutchins said.
Both Hutchins and Chestnutt said the process to search for a candidate for president takes nearly a year, and the early announcement of Hutchins’ retirement allows the trustees ample time to begin and complete the search. That search, Chestnutt added, will start right away.
While the board’s satisfaction with Hutchins’ work is unclear, the president says he is proud of the accomplishments that the college has made during his tenure.
“I am proud of the accomplishments of the college during my tenure as president, including the reaffirmation of accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the implementation of our Quality Enhancement Plan and our focus on the first year support we provide new students, implementation of Web-Advisor and the enhancements it brings to students, faculty and staff, and the creation of the Career Coach position and having a presence one day each week in our five high schools and its direct impact on Career and College Promise enrollment growth,” Hutchins stated in his letter to colleagues.
In the last few semesters, under the current president’s leadership, SCC has seen enrollment numbers start an upward trend, with an 80 percent summer enrollment bump in 2015-16 and a 14 percent increase for this upcoming summer session, according to college officials.
“As I shook the hand of each of our graduates last Thursday evening and I thought of how proud I was of each one of them, I was reminded of what has brought me the most professional fulfillment as president of Sampson Community College and that is the great work that each of you do every day to take students from where they are an assisting them in their journey to where they want to go,” Hutchins concluded in his letter to staff and faculty.
Hutchins was hired by the board in 2012 at a salary of $144,876. His current salary is $182,592. He is the fifth president in the college’s 50-year history, succeeding former president Dr. William Aiken. When Hutchins came to Sampson, he was the dean of Educational Centers and Economic Development at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla. and served in that capacity for 10 years.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.