Rouse named new president of James Sprunt College
By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 23, 2004 2:01 PM
KENANSVILLE -- Dr. Lawrence L. Rouse, former dean of student services at Johnston Community College, is the new president at James Sprunt Community College.
On Jan. 4, he will replace Dr. Mary Wood, who is retiring.
"He has great qualifications and knowledge of community colleges, particularly the community colleges in North Carolina," said Zettie Williams, chairman of the college's board of trustees. "His experience and his knowledge were very attractive to the board."
A native of Sumter, S.C., Rouse has a bachelor's degree in sociology from Voorhees College in South Carolina, a master's of education and community and occupational programs in education from the University of South Carolina and a doctorate of education in adult and community college education from N.C. State University.
Rouse began his career in adult education by joining the staff of Central Carolina Technical College in Sumter in May 1982 as a student development specialist. He was the associate vice president for enrollment management and dean of student affairs when he left that college in June 2000 to join Sprunt as dean of student services.
Rouse said he decided to move to North Carolina after a lifetime in South Carolina for a number of reasons.
"I had just finished my doctorate and was told if I wanted to move up, it made more sense to do it in a system that had 58 community colleges versus one with 15," he said. "And I like North Carolina -- the progressiveness of it. And if I wanted to make a change in my life, it seemed the time to do it. It all came together."
Rouse said he first visited Sprunt in the early 1990s while participating in a graduate program. When he became dean of student services at Johnston Community College, he said, he got to know his counterpart at Sprunt, Debra Morrisey.
"I thought it was a great school with a lot going on," Rouse said. "When the position came open, all that came back to me."
Rouse said he comes to Sprunt "with no preconceived ideas. I want to get to know the staff and faculty and let them get to know me. Then we can move on from there."
Dr. Wood, who is retiring after serving five years as the college's president, has been with the college in various capacities since the early 1970s.
She said she hopes her legacy to Sprunt will be that she helped move the college into the 21st century. All employees now have access to technology, she said. And the college has increased its classes offered via the North Carolina Information Highway and the Internet, through collaborative agreements with other colleges.
Dr. Wood said she's also proud of the college's community outreach and the work it has done with the public schools and in such programs as Job Ready, Upward Bound and Education Talent Search.
"And we've made great strides in diversity, both among students and staff, and with our global education efforts," Dr. Wood said. "But I can't take personal credit for these advances.
"Leadership is about providing the opportunities and resources to others so they can do what needs to be done for the benefit of the college. You can only do what your team of people can do. And I've been blessed with a wonderful team."
Mrs. Williams said she has "nothing but regrets" that Dr. Wood is leaving.
"But I give her congratulations and acknowledge all of the great things she's done during her tenure," Mrs. Williams added. "She helped the college grow and was interested in improving all aspects of the curriculum. And she got the community involved in the mission. That's when a college thrives, when the community is involved."
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