Dr. Johnny Moore, the third finalist for the presidency of Lee College to meet the community, said he considers Lee to be a destination institution and Baytown to be a place with much to offer for his whole family.

A native of Arkansas who is currently president of Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont, West Virginia, Moore said his path to becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college came through athletics.

“College was not talked about in my household until my senior year of high school when I started receiving phone calls from basketball coaches.”

While he was recruiting by Texas schools such as University of Texas El Paso and Sam Houston State, he eventually went to a small private college in Arkansas, Philander Smith College, where he played basketball and got a degree in mathematics.

His 30-year career in higher education started at a two-year college in Arkansas and has also taken him to institutions in Texas and West Virginia. All of that time has been in comprehensive two-year colleges except for a two-year stint as president of his alma mater, Philander Smith.

He said going to a small private college gave him the experience of a small institution committed to providing a pathway for student success, which is the model he sees for community colleges.

“This institution believes in second chances,” he said. “That’s in line with my beliefs. That’s why I’m interested in this job.”

“To me this is a destination type job,” he said. Also, he said, this area provides wide opportunities for his 15-year-old son, who is an athlete, his 8-year-old daughter, and his wife, who has a career in elementary education.

He said he would consider adding more athletic programs at Lee College if such additions were justified financially and with opportunities for expanding enrollment. He said his current college does not have athletic programs, and athletic programs are not allowed at community colleges under West Virginia law.

He acknowledged that Lee College faces some pressing concerns, including its troubled relationship with Barbers Hill ISD and recent conflict about faculty contracts.

“Those are important issues,” he said. “And those are issues I believe can be resolved. Those are resolvable issues collectively working together as one unit.”

He said he believes shared governance means that everyone has a voice and can be heard, but recognizes that ultimately the college has a hierarchy in place for making decisions.

Texas has aggressive goals for education beyond high school, and that will require community colleges to do a better job of recruiting students and giving them a pathway to success. Not only do students face academic challenges, but they also face financial challenges not only in paying for college but also for some with food insecurity and homelessness.

Many students cannot be successful because they don’t feel connected, which requires effort not only in academics but also in the campus culture.

Moore was the third of four candidates to meet the community, following Lynda Villanueva Monday and Stephen Dunnivant Tuesday.

• The final candidate is Scott Scarborough, professor of practice-School of Accounting at the University of Akron and previous University of Akron president, who will be on campus today.

He will answer questions at public forums in Tucker Hall on campus at 8 a.m. for faculty, 11:15 p.m. for administrators and staff and 2:30 p.m. for students and the community. No one is limited to only attending the forum matching their relationship to the college. Regents interview each candidate in executive session in the evening.

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