The newspaper is always asking government to open its hiring procedure to public inspection, especially when it gets down to crunch time for the highest-paying jobs that carry the most responsibility. Today’s editorial thanks Alamance Community College for taking us up on it in the hiring of its new president.
For too many years to count, newspapers have made a fairly simple request of local governments preparing to fill their most important positions. And routinely the request has been denied, or worse, ignored.
Sort of like howling into a desolate and pitiless wilderness.
But predictably, we continued to ask the board of education, county commissioners, city or town councils or city and town halls to provide people in the community a list of the final candidates to be considered for jobs such as school superintendent, county manager, city manager or police chief. There is no law against releasing those names, governments simply decide not to do so — often citing confidentially for a candidate who would rather keep that information from a current employer.
So just as predictably, those names remained secret until one person was chosen for the job without taxpayers having much say in who might be selected or outside of any public or media scrutiny.
Thursday, that changed, at least in one case. Without our insistence or badgering, Alamance Community College submitted six names — with background information — to the Times-News and other media outlets. The persons listed constitute the finalists for the biggest job at the college, its president. One of those six will succeed current college president Martin Nadelman, who is retiring in October.
To this we say, well done.
Because the college authorized this move, people in Alamance County know, for example, that one candidate is from right here in this community — Gene C. Couch, who is executive vice president at ACC, a job he’s held since 2011. We also know he has experience working for another community college and a variety of degrees from Mars Hill College, Western Carolina and East Tennessee State University.
The list also reveals candidates from Arkansas and Oregon and three more from North Carolina areas ranging from near the coast to the sandhills to the Piedmont.
The time frame for choosing Nadelman’s successor calls for naming a replacement by July. The full college Board of Trustees will begin meeting with the finalists soon.
Meanwhile, college spokesman Ed Williams said in a press release that ACC staff, faculty and the community will have opportunities to meet the candidates. Informal gatherings will be scheduled and public notices issued. Meanwhile, reporters for print, broadcast and online outlets will have a chance to conduct their own research into those in line for a position that pays a six-figure salary and heads an entity that is among the county’s largest employers.
Thanks to the college for giving the public this important opportunity. Hopefully more local governments will do the same.