Clark joins CCCC board

Dec. 27, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

The Central Carolina Community College board of trustees is back to full strength, as discussions about construction needs and new academic programs loom on the horizon, with the recent appointment of Keith Clark.

Clark, a blogger and former Republican political operative living in Sanford, was appointed to the board by Gov. Pat McCrory to take the spot of Doug Wilkinson, a Lee County automobile dealer. Clark was sworn in last week.

"I'm very pleased," he said. "This has been a long-time goal to serve on the community college board."

Wilkinson's term expired earlier this summer, and the seat has been empty since then, leaving the board with 15 members instead of 16. Julian Philpott, chairman of the college's board of trustees, said Wilkinson was an ideal board member, but that he's excited to have a full board once more with Clark joining the group.

"Doug served with distinction on our board for a number of years as a gubernatorial appointee and did an outstanding job representing Central Carolina Community College," Philpott said. "He attended meetings and was a huge advocate for the college."

Clark supports two of the college's biggest projects, he said — the Central Carolina Works program to increase the number of high school students dual-enrolled at the college, and a slate of construction and repair projects.

"I'm not coming to change direction," he said. "I'm coming to help the college reach those goals faster."

Clark said he served years ago on a statewide committee looking at workforce development and preparedness. That work led him to realize that while public schools can be slow-moving machines in terms of changing curricula and keeping pace with the needs of industry, community colleges can adapt much quicker.

And in the region of Lee, Harnett and Chatham counties which the college serves, he said, the college is doing a good job of preparing a local workforce — and he wants to do more to let people know about that, whether it's through public speaking, blogging or other means.

"It's really a good college," Clark said. "They're doing well. ... I'd really like to play a personal role in getting the message of the community college better understood."

Philpott said Clark has big shoes to fill, but that he has faith in his newest board member.

"We look forward to working with Keith ... in continuing the level of energy and dedication that the other board members have," Philpott said. "We feel sure that Keith will bring that same level of energy."

The long wait for Clark to be added to the board is only the latest instance of uncertainty surrounding the college's board of trustees. Four board members from Lee County — Sanford Mayor Chet Mann, United Way Director Jan Hayes, businessman Tony Lett and attorney Chip Post — were removed from the board this summer by a controversial law but were later temporarily reinstated after they sued the college and the state.

Their lawsuit is ongoing; both sides filed motions for summary judgment several weeks ago but have still not heard a decision from the judge.