LUMBERTON — Kimberly Gold says there isn’t anything she would rather do than work for North Carolina’s Community College System.
“I’ve been in the community college environment for more than 20 years,” said the new president of Robeson Community College. “I have a great appreciation for the philosophy that community colleges can provide the education that can have the greatest impact on the local community.”
RCC’s fifth president officially took over the college’s top administrative position on Jan. 3. She replaced Pamela Hilbert, who served as RCC president for three and a half years before her retirement on June 30.
Gold said earlier this week that she is still busy becoming familiar with the college and acquainting herself with college staff, students and local residents.
“So far I am very impressed with what I have seen and the history of the college,” she said. “There is a strong commitment here of the college to the community and the community to the college.”
Gold, whose career includes stints as a community college teacher, academic dean and administrator, most recently was the executive vice president and chief academic officer at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, which serves Rutherford and Polk counties. She held a number of positions at Isothermal since joining the staff in 1995.
Gold said education is changing to serve the need for a workforce with more technology skills.
“It’s an exciting time to be in education. We have to think about how to prepare our students to enter this new kind of workforce,” Gold said. “The decisions we make today will decide the ways we prepare our workers for the next 10 to 20 years.”
It is predicted that by 2020, 67 percent of jobs will require some training beyond high school, Gold said.
“We need to think about how to best provide skill-based training and technical skills,” she said. “This is a challenge we need to address quickly, but this is a good challenge.”
According to Gold, RCC is moving in the right direction. A good number of technical programs in health care and advanced manufacturing are offered.
During a forum Tuesday sponsored by Rediscover Downtown Lumberton, Gold spoke of the importance of students being introduced to technology early in their lives.
“The reason students come to RCC is because they want to get a job or a better paying job,” she said. “We have to help all of our students from a young age understand the importance of technology in their lives.”
At the forum, Gold emphasized the importance of partnerships between RCC and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the Public Schools of Robeson County and the local business community.
“We have to set a vision and goal,” she said. “No one can accomplish anything by themselves. We have to look at what others are doing and build on that.”
Gold said the issues facing RCC and Robeson County are similar to those she faced during her years at Isothermal. Rutherford and Polk counties, like Robeson, lost a lot of manufacturing jobs and the community college there is working to train workers to be able to perform jobs in other industries.
She said her experience as a production manager for American Greetings for two years is also a plus.
Gold received a bachelor of science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1987, a master’s in Business Administration from Western Carolina University in 1995, and an educational specialist degree and a doctorate in Education from Appalachian State University in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
Gold said that during her short tenure she has seen “no major problems” at the college.
“RCC has a great reputation within the community college system,” she said. “It has served the community well.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.