State News

New N.C. Community College System President Named

Posted December 6, 2007

— Craven Community College President Scott Ralls was named Thursday as the new president of the North Carolina Community College System, replacing retiring President Martin Lancaster.

The State Board of Community Colleges held its final round of interviews for the new president Thursday morning, a process that garnered an unusual amount of attention after the system decided to admit illegal immigrants at all of its campuses.

The other finalists were Kennon Briggs, the system's vice president for business and finance, and City College of San Francisco Chancellor Philip Day.

Lancaster, a former congressman, announced last winter that he would retire from the post in May.

Ralls, 43, has headed Craven Community College, in New Bern, for the past five years. He previously served as vice president of economic and work force development for the community college system and as director of economic development.

He will assume his new post on April 1, at an annual salary of $275,000.

Ralls takes over a 58-campus system that serves more than 800,000 students and continues to face strong pressure to retrain workers laid off from traditional manufacturing fields such as textiles, furniture and tobacco.

“My mission is just to keep the role of community colleges relevant and moving forward, as it's always been," Ralls said.

The conclusion of the presidential search comes a week after it became public that the system had changed a 2004 policy that had given each campus discretion in enrolling applicants who didn't have proof they were in the country lawfully.

Lancaster, in defending a Nov. 7 memo directing all of the campuses to admit illegal immigrants, said the system has had an open-door admissions policy since the forerunner to community colleges opened its doors in 1958.

Refusing to admit illegal immigrants would punish children brought to this country by their parents and who are likely to remain in North Carolina, Lancaster said.

The change has elicited a strong response from conservative groups and others who want strict enforcement of federal immigration laws, specifically those that bar undocumented immigrants from working in the country.

The five leading major party candidates for governor are all opposed to the policy change, although Gov. Mike Easley, who is barred from seeking a third successive term, supported the system's decision. Two of the five, State Treasurer Richard Moore and Lt. Beverly Perdue, both Democrats, are on the community college board.

Ralls said he would administer the law regarding immigrants at community colleges, regardless of what it is.

"I see what access and educational opportunity provide to people in transforming their lives," he said. "Like many educators, my instinct is to see those benefits provided as broadly as possible."


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  • Greyhound_Girl Dec 7, 2007

    Nancy, the in-state tuition "research" is for the UNC-System schools...including UNC, NC STATE, the Community Colleges the students will be paying out-of-state tuition.

  • Greyhound_Girl Dec 7, 2007

    The illegals are already getting an education in our public schools...

  • Nancy Dec 7, 2007

    On national Fox news this morning, NC is getting the feedback from Weasley's decision to allow illegals to get in state tuition at community colleges, and the fact that we are allowing them in at all is a problem, given they're ILLEGAL.

    Thanks Weasley.

  • NCGal Dec 7, 2007

    "The only thing I have to correct is that they don't file taxes with fake SS#'s but with a tax id# issued to them by the IRS department." Looks they'd have a problem getting any money back with a ITIN # since taxes were withheld with the stolen SS# that's on the W2. But considering how stuck on stupid govt is, you're probably right.

    NE Raleigh, there's no need for a "study". They know the results already. They give in-state to IAs they have to give it to all out of state students, too, according to fed law.

  • acagirl Dec 6, 2007

    Come on people letting illegal immigrants to attend schools should not be a problem because everyone in the world should have the right to get education. Let's stop the hate!

  • acagirl Dec 6, 2007

    I don't understand why many of you are so worry about allowing illigal immigrants to attend community colleges when you should be more concern about our american citizens children that do not want to continue their education and some with serious mental problems shooting people at malls and commiting suicide at the age of 20.

  • acagirl Dec 6, 2007

    Thank you Linh40 for educating people that illigal immigrants do pay taxes. The only thing I have to correct is that they don't file taxes with fake SS#'s but with a tax id# issued to them by the IRS department.

  • JAFOinWF Dec 6, 2007

    I blame Mike Sl-Easley for this whole illegal immigrant issue at the state level. Can we impeach a governor under NC law?

  • NE Raleigh Dec 6, 2007

    Now there is talk of illegal aliens qualifying for in state tuition. What message does this send to people trying to do things the legal way? When will we stop rewarding illegal immigrants? The illegals will now compete with our children for college seats, we will end up picking up their bill too, as taxpayers. Most of them will never make it out of High School. Our borders will be overun and NC is becoming a sanctuary state.

  • NCGal Dec 6, 2007

    "I know what illegal means but saying someone is illegal does not always mean that they do not pay taxes. How do you all know that just because they are illegal they do not pay taxes?"

    A lot of SS#s that illegal aliens use belong to children. They can work, file a tax return and get a refund check that includes earned income credit. Nobody's the wiser until the child gets older and the problems starts. Some use stolen #s and file a tax return the day they get the W2 and get the refund back that can include earned income credit. Then the real John Doe files his return only to find out he's already done it. My daughter's # was stolen somehow by somebody that they can't find. It's a big mess.