From the moment Dr. Paul Hutchins took the helm of Sampson Community College back in 2012, we immediately recognized several attributes that the new president would bring to the school and to the community.
Chief among them was his humble manner. Quiet and unassuming, Hutchins has conducted his presidency just a shade out of the spotlight, preferring to allow students and staff to shine while he cheered them on from the sidelines.
But that didn’t mean he wasn’t involved. He was. Hutchins interacted well with students and staff, mingling with them, sharing ideas and, most especially, listening to what they had to say, using that as the jump-start to many initiatives made during his tenure.
Sincere in his approach, you could always count on what Hutchins said to be exactly what he meant. As cliche as it might sound, when it came to the outgoing president, his word was, indeed, his bond. And the kindness he offered was never a put-on or an attempt to get something in return — it was, and remains, a genuine part of Paul Hutchins.
Loyal to a fault, Hutchins was quick to always offer gratitude and praise to those who worked side-by-side with him, helping him to achieve the goals he had set for the college. Proof of that rests in his comments, made during the announcement of his acceptance to become president of Martin Community College March 1. “I leave this position with a profound sense of gratitude for each of you who have supported me and made my job so rewarding.”
Those weren’t just words. Knowing Hutchins, they came directly from the heart.
Hutchins was also a servant leader, someone who believed in the Rotarian mantra “service above self.” He saw his role at the college in that capacity: acting to serve the students, the Board of Trustees, the SCC Foundation Board and the community which supported the college in whatever capacity most necessary.
As a Rotarian, Hutchins carried out that mantra as well, serving in myriad roles during his tenure with the service organization. But perhaps the role he loved most as part of the Clinton-Sampson Rotary Club was chairman of the Cart fund, whose money supported Alzheimer’s research, something near and dear to his heart.
In every role he played as part of the Sampson County community, Hutchins did so with great enthusiasm and a quiet calmness that matched his character. We believe he loved the college and worked to make it successful, a point that becomes clearer when one looks at the strides made during his time here: reaffirmation of accreditation, the implementation of a Quality Enhancing Plan, enrollment growth, a STEM partnership with the city and county schools and nationally accredited RN and LPN programs.
Hutchins leaves the college in the greatest of hands in his successor, Dr. Bill Starling. And his parting words for his colleague reflects the kind of man the outgoing president is: “I congratulate Dr. Starling … and I ask that you support and work diligently with him to move this great institution forward.”
A classy farewell and nothing less than we expected from Hutchins.
We wish him every success in Martin County and we thank him for his service to both the college and the community. Godspeed Dr. Hutchins.