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PCC Kicks Off Leadership Speaker Series with Presentation by NCCCS President

By Rob Goldberg Jr.
PCC Media Relations Director

Dr. Scott Ralls speaks to PCC employees about leadership.


WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College went straight to the top in kicking off the second year of its Community College Leadership Preparation Program this month, calling upon N.C. Community Colleges President Scott Ralls to share his thoughts on the characteristics of good leadership.

Ralls, who has held positions of leadership throughout his professional career, visited PCC on Sept. 22 to speak with employees participating in a monthly professional development series at the college.

Now in his seventh year at the helm of North Carolina’s community colleges, Ralls discussed what he believes to be the five characteristics that good leaders must possess. He illustrated many of his points by noting the “deliberate, thoughtful leadership” of those who founded the state’s community college system more than 50 years ago.

According to Ralls, good leaders are competent, forward-looking and possess an ability to be inspired. They are people of integrity, he said, who have the proper motivation for wanting to lead.

Throughout his presentation, Ralls referred to the leadership demonstrated by the late Dallas Herring, widely considered the ‘father’ of the North Carolina Community College System. It was Herring, Ralls said, who envisioned education as a pathway to statewide economic development, with community colleges “leading the rank and file of North Carolina out of the past and into the mainstream of the future.”

Of the five leadership characteristics Ralls noted in his remarks, he emphasized two: integrity and proper motivation.

He stressed the importance of integrity by saying it is “one part of leadership you cannot afford to make a mistake on; you can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube.”

Good leaders, Ralls continued, are transparent, tell the truth and don’t tell lies. They also “walk the walk,” he said, and embody the North Carolina state motto: To be, rather than to seem.

In stressing the importance of having the proper motivation to lead, Ralls said the best leaders have “incredible” drive. “But it’s not personal ambition,” he said. “It’s organizational ambition; it’s mission-related ambition.”

Echoing the U.S. Marine Corps’ leadership philosophy, Ralls said he believes the term “leader” refers to a role rather than an individual.

PCC launched its leadership speaker series last year, when the college’s Men’s Resource Center and Human Resources Department teamed up to provide employees with a new opportunity for professional growth.

Ralls noted in his opening remarks how Pitt has been at the forefront among community colleges in offering professional development opportunities on leadership to faculty and staff.

Since 2004, PCC has offered employees a three-day leadership institute featuring seminars and activities designed to foster interaction among participants while encouraging them to think about how they can contribute their personal leadership qualities to the college’s educational mission.

"It is so vital to our institution to support leadership training at all levels of the college, and President Ralls complements our 2014-17 Strategic Plan goals and objectives recently announced,” said PCC President G. Dennis Massey. “Improvements in services to students and the community will certainly follow a collaborative team effort."

Jasmin Spain, a member of the PCC Leadership Development Committee that organized Ralls’ visit, says future speaker series installments will feature Pitt employees discussing their community college careers and offering their peers advice on how to pursue leadership positions within the community college system. He said Pitt County Schools Superintendent Ethan Lenker will kick off the spring semester portion of the series on Jan. 21.

"It is the Leadership Development Committee’s sincere hope that the speaker series will contribute to the retention of quality employees and aid in the recruitment of quality professionals to Pitt Community College," Spain said, adding that the programs are open to all PCC employees, including part-time staff.

Spain noted that the benefits to employees who attend the program are many, including certificates of completion for those who register for and attend five or more sessions. Each session, he said, takes place in the Walter and Marie Williams Dining Room on campus and consists of a 15-20-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session.