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COA trustees name Bagwell college's new president

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Jack Bagwell, one of three finalists for the vacant president’s job at College of The Albemarle, addresses COA students and faculty and members of the public during a forum at the college’s Elizabeth City campus, on Thursday. Bagwell, vice president for academic affairs and the chief academic officer at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, S.C., has been named the new president of COA, the college's trustees announced Friday.

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From staff reports

Saturday, September 21, 2019

A community college administrator from Greenwood, South Carolina will be College of The Albemarle’s next president.

COA’s Board of Trustees announced Friday that Jack Bagwell, vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Piedmont Technical College, will be the Elizabeth City-based community college’s 11th president.

COA made the announcement after the N.C. State Board of Community Colleges met and approved trustees’ recommendation to hire Bagwell, the college said in a press release. Bagwell will begin his duties at COA the week of Dec. 2.

“Dr. Bagwell brings to COA a tremendous amount of leadership experience, a passion for the educational opportunities available within the community college setting, and a genuine commitment to the relationships built within the community,” COA trustee board Chairman Marion Harris Jr. said.

Harris said he and other trustees “are confident that Dr. Bagwell will be a dynamic and transformative leader for COA and we look forward to working with him on goals and plans for the future.”

Bagwell said in the release that he’s “incredibly honored” to be COA’s next president.

“I am grateful to COA’s Board of Trustees for choosing me to lead this wonderful institution,” he said. “I look forward to being able to contribute to the excellent work the college has been doing. COA has a dedicated group of faculty and staff who serve the college’s students and local communities, and I am excited to partner with them in that work going forward.”

Bagwell, a community college educator for 28 years, was one of 70 applicants for the job and one of three finalists who were interviewed by trustees for the position. The other two were Jeff Jochems, president and vice chancellor at the Richwood Valley Campus of the Ozarks Technical Community College in Nixa, Missouri; and Richard Pagan, vice president for academic and student affairs at New River Community and Technical College in Beaver, W. Va.

All three finalists attended community forums held as part of the presidential search process at all four COA campuses in August. During the forums he attended, Bagwell described his leadership style as “democratic” and one emphasizing “consensus-building,” but also said it’s necessary to adapt to every situation, some of which require quick, decisive action.

He told the forum audience on the Elizabeth City campus that the opportunity at COA appealed to him because he saw connections between what the college needs and what his experiences have prepared him to do.

Bagwell said the college needs to reach out to older, non-traditional students. He noted that 34 percent of COA’s current student population is high school dual enrollment.

Another challenge at COA, Bagwell said, is “the population of the college doesn’t really look like the communities that you serve.” When it comes to race, age groups, or where people live within the service area, a community college needs to look like the communities it serves, he said.

Bagwell will replace Robert Wynegar, who stepped down as COA president in June after a little more than two years in the post.

Travis Twiford, a former superintendent of the Camden and Elizabeth City-Pasquotank school districts, is currently serving as COA’s interim president.

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