By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Starting fall classes while waiting for a search for a new president may not be an ideal situation for an institution of higher learning.
Gadsden State Community College, which finds itself in that predicament now, has the benefit of a familiar face in the leadership role until a new president is found.
Dr. William Blow served as interim president for six months, starting in December 2010, when a new president was being sought for Gadsden State.
When former president Raymond Staats left the college recently, Blow agreed to come back to the college to serve as interim president again.
Blow said he agreed to return for several reasons.
“I really enjoy public service,” he said.“And I really like the college environment. There’s a lure to a college campus,”
Blow said, and all the activity that surrounds it.
“When I was here before I really liked Gadsden State as a campus,” Blow continued.
The average age of students is 26, he said, which makes them a little more mature, and more focused.
“I liked the students. I like their attitude, and I found a very dedicated faculty.
“I found an administrative team that worked well together,” Blow said.
Returning to GSCC, Blow said he found the college has a strategic plan and a campus master plan in place.
He said he will be looking at the plans that are in place and working to strengthen community ties during his time on campus.
“For any person who walks in as president, you’d really need to take at least a year to get to know the place before making any radical changes,” Blow said. Making radical changes, he said, is not the task set before an acting president.
He said he will be working to “keep things humming,” at GSCC’s multiple campuses.
“I think the role of the president is making sure that the various aspects of the campus work together well.”
Blow is a former Deputy Executive Director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. At the time of his retirement in 2004, he was serving as interim Executive Director of the commission.
After retiring, he was asked to serve as interim president at Alabama Southern, where he’d worked for 10 years as Academic Dean before joining the staff at ACHE.
Blow said after serving in that interim capacity, he was asked to serve at GSCC when the need for an interim president arose.
Blow said he found the challenges to be about the same during this second interim tenure at GSCC. It is a complex college, he said, one of the largest in the two-year system.
“You don’t get to thoroughly know a place in six months,” Blow said. He has been busy since arriving at Gadsden State meeting with the education council and department chairs, as he continues his education about Gadsden State.
Blow said the agreement was to serve as acting president for six months, which is generally the time needed for a search for a new president. However, he said, the chancellor indicated he wants to hold off on the search while changes are made in the search process. Blow said that mean his second stretch at Gadsden State is longer than the first.