New NCCCS president brings a strong vision

Published 4:43 pm Monday, December 10, 2007

By Staff
Scott Ralls believes in miracles. He sees them every day at Craven Community College, where he is president — but not for much longer.
Now, that he has been selected to succeed H. Martin Lancaster as president of the N.C. Community College System, we hope Ralls can make even more miracles happen.
The son of a Methodist minister, Ralls was born in Charlotte. He has lived in towns and cities across North Carolina. For the past five years, he’s been just down the road in New Bern.
The selection board had narrowed the list to three candidates when it interviewed Ralls on Thursday.
The issue of allowing illegal immigrants is one thing the system’s president must work with lawmakers on, Ralls said. Improving industrial training is one area in which Ralls also should excel.
Ralls was in his late 30s when he was named president at Craven Community College, but before that he was the vice president for economic and work force development at the N.C. Community College System, director of economic development at the system’s office and a director at the N.C. Department of Commerce.
He earned a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology and a master-of-arts degree in industrial and organizational psychology, both from the University of Maryland, and a bachelor-of-science degree in industrial relations and psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
As system president, Ralls won’t have day-to-day contact with students and colleges in the system, but he will lobby on their behalf before the General Assembly.
He also seems to have the ability to focus on the smaller picture — how education can change a single human life. That’s a powerful quality.
Some state lawmakers have questioned whether the college system should allow illegal immigrants to enroll. About 340 illegal immigrants are enrolled in North Carolina community colleges, according to an Associated Press report. Now, consider that the N.C. Community College System enrolls more than 800,000 students in 58 community colleges. We can only hope the immigrant issue doesn’t take center stage at the expense of more critical issues.
Ralls will oversee the third-largest community college system in the country, with a $1.2 billion budget and 800,000 students. About 270,000 of them are working toward two-year degrees. The system also offers work force training and retraining and basic skills and literacy education for adults.