SCC’s search for next leader down to three

By: By Kristy D. Carter -

The search for the new president of Sampson Community College has been narrowed from a pool of more than 40 applicants to three, who are set to be interviewed later this week.

Officials from the college have announced Dr. Camille Reese, Dr. Gene Smith and Dr. Bill Starling as the finalists to fill the position being left vacant by the retirement of current president, Dr. Paul Hutchins.

All three candidates are currently employed with the community college system, with Starling being the lone internal candidate.

After deciding to hold the search themselves, the board of trustees for the college selected several trustees to serve on the Presidential Search Committee. That committee, spearheaded under the leadership of Catherine Ezzell, has reviewed all applications and are working to make a recommendation to the entire trustee board.

“We have been very pleased with the results of the search process, and the high caliber of the applicants from across the country,” Ezzell said. “We are looking forward to speaking with the three invited to the in-person interview on Thursday. The meet and greets will be an opportunity for the Sampson Community College faculty and staff as well as representatives from around Sampson County to visit with the candidates and provide feedback to the search committee.”

Dr. Camille Reese

Reese, who currently serves as the vice president for instruction and chief academic officer at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, has been employed with the college for nearly 15 years. She previously served as the dean for nursing, health sciences, and public service technologies.

“Sampson Community College has a wonderful reputation for providing excellent academic programs and short-term training opportunities to meet the needs of the citizens in the great Sampson County area,” Reese said when asked about the possibility of serving as the next president of the local community college.

After working as a registered nurse, Reese says she began a career in education as the associate director of nursing at Northwest Area Health Education Center and then as a professor of nursing at Winston Salem State University. She earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, after completing both a bachelor and masters program.

“My experiences in higher education and the North Carolina Community College system align with the mission and values of Sampson Community College and have prepared me to serve the college in the executive leadership role,” Reese added. “I have been fortunate to have been able to work in the past with many fine faculty and staff from Sampson. I am honored to have been selected as a finalist for the position as president.”

Dr. Gene Smith

Smith is currently serving as the vice president of academic and student services and chief academic officer at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro. It’s Sampson’s reputation that initiated his interest in working with the local college.

“I am impressed with Sampson Community College’s reputation and history of improving its communities and strengthening the local workforce,” Smith said about what drew him into applying for the presidential role. “Furthermore, it is clear that the faculty, staff and community is very passionate about student success. I believe that I have the same passion for student success.”

During his tenure in the last 24 years, Smith has served as an instructor of biology, department chair of math and science, division chair of arts and sciences, director of special instructional projects, associate vice president of academic and student services, and interim president — all at Wayne Community College. He received his bachelor of science in biology, master of science in biology, and doctor of education in educational leadership from East Carolina University.

Being selected as one of the three finalist, Smith noted, is an honor. As a life-long resident of eastern North Carolina, and now a resident in neighboring Wayne County, Smith says he has seen the significant impact Sampson Community has on the communities it serves.

“I am very excited about the possibility of working with the board of trustees, Foundation, faculty, staff, and community partners to continue to focus on ways to positively impact the community and to transform the lives of Sampson Community College students,” Smith explained.

Dr. Bill Starling

Starling is no stranger to Sampson Community College, having worked with the educational institute for almost 40 years. He currently serves as the vice president of academic affairs and administration, but has served in many other senior administrative roles since his hiring in 1979, including finance and business affairs, accreditation and personnel, construction and facility administration, program development and academic affairs.

“This year the college celebrated its 50th anniversary,” Starling noted. “My career spans much of this time. I have been privileged to work with many of the people who actually founded the college and worked at the original campus on Hwy. 421.”

Starling earned his bachelor of arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and holds a master of arts in education from East Carolina University and a doctor of education from North Carolina State University with a minor in public administration.

“Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to work with younger staff and faculty who are now responsible for realizing the college’s mission,” Starling said. “I can think of no higher honor than to work directly with the current faculty, staff, and trustees as president to help lead the college community as we respond to the needs of our current students and anticipate the needs of those we will enroll over the next decade.”



Interviews set for this week

By Kristy D. Carter

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.