When David Heatherly was approached by the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Coastal Carolina Community College about being the college’s next president he was asked two questions: Was being president something he wanted to do? If so, could he do it?
Heatherly has served as Coastal’s executive vice president since 2000 and said he has always been content with his job and the strong working relationship with long-time President Dr. Ronald Lingle.
Heatherly said Lingle has been a “godsend” to the college in the 28 years he has been Coastal Carolina Community College president and his presence will be missed.
Taking over as president wasn’t necessarily what Heatherly had envisioned, but he said he understands Lingle’s decision to retire.
“In a perfect world we would continue what we’ve been doing, but we have to respect what is best for Dr. Lingle and his family. I respect his decision and wish him well,” Heatherly said.
With Lingle’s retirement setting the stage for a transition, Heatherly considered the second question and knew he could do the job.
“When I first came here I knew it was a special place. I was able to say yes to the second question because of the exceptional students, faculty and staff we have here,” Heatherly said.
The State Board of Community Colleges on Friday approved the hiring of Heatherly as Coastal’s next president, a transition that will officially take place on Jan. 1.
Heatherly said his duties as executive vice president have primarily dealt with internal operations at the college. He said that one of the major changes as president is that he’ll be more involved in “external” affairs and the college’s relationships within the community.
Heatherly said that during the transition Lingle has helped to introduce him to community leaders and partner organizations.
Heatherly said Coastal Carolina Community College is known for its success and its student performance, and he looks forward to continuing to move the college forward.
Nearly his entire career has been at Coastal and Heatherly said it has shown him the value of the community college system.
“I very much believe in the community college system and the North Carolina system serves our state well. It is an honor to be asked to serve as president (at CCCC),” Heatherly said.
Heatherly grew up in the East Tennessee area, but when he left graduate school his search for a job brought him back to Eastern North Carolina; he was born at Cherry Point while his father was in the Marine Corps.
He asked relatives if they were aware of any job opportunities where they lived and an aunt told him about a teaching job in Onslow County. He taught math for a year at Lejeune High School before joining Coastal Carolina Community College in 1978 as a math instructor.
Heatherly said Lingle was hired as president at the college 10 years after he arrived and a year later he was promoted by Lingle to his first administrative job as dean of College Transfer. Before becoming executive vice president, Heatherly also held positions as vice president for Instruction and Student Services.
Heatherly earned a Master of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Bachelor of Science from Tennessee Technological University.
Heatherly will be the college’s third president.
Heatherly is entering his 39th year at the college and could also be considering retirement, but he says he’s not ready to wrap up his career just yet.
“I could’ve retired 8 years ago but the fire is still there, the excitement is still there. I plan to be here for the foreseeable future,” he said.
A transition in leadership is coming, but Heatherly isn’t planning any major changes.
“It’s hard to argue with the success our college has enjoyed,” he said.
And Heatherly said he continues to see his role as president as one of support to ensure the faculty and staff have what they need to ensure student success.
Heatherly will soon have the title of president, but he takes on his new role humbly.
“I don’t view it as about me, I view it as about the institution,” he said.