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Silence, Surprise Greet News Of CFCC President's Resignation

By Jenny Callison, posted Jan 23, 2015
(Ted Spring)
Correction: This version corrects the title of Amanda Lee's new position. Until Jan. 29, when the CFCC trustees officially approved her appointment as interim president, she was technically the school's acting president.

Cape Fear Community College trustees were tight-lipped, and county officials appeared puzzled the day after Thursday’s abrupt resignation of CFCC president Ted Spring following a closed session of the trustees meeting.

No reason was given for the president’s resignation, which the college announced was effective immediately, and no details were released about the terms of his separation such as whether a severance package was offered. Spring took the helm of the college Nov. 1, 2012, and his current contract runs through October of this year. His salary was $268,356 per year, according to CFCC officials.

The school's trustees at the Thursday meeting also named Amanda Lee, CFCC's vice president for instructional services, the school's acting president.

Spring did not return a message for comment Friday.

New Hanover County commissioner Woody White, who represents the county on the CFCC board, said in an email Friday that the trustees’ lawyer told board members not to comment about events that took place in the closed session.

“I will say, CFCC has an incredible history of educating our citizens, and a very bright future ahead of it,” he said. “I am honored to be on the Board of Trustees and look forward to shaping that future as we begin the process of finding the very best person we can to lead it.” 

A number of other trustees either did not return phone calls by press time or declined to comment, referring inquiries instead to CFCC administration.

County commissioners reached Friday said they were surprised at the news of Spring’s resignation.

Asked if he knew the reason behind Spring’s departure, board of commissioners’ chairman Jonathan Barfield said, “I have no clue.”

“I am saddened to hear this news,” he continued. “Ted Spring has helped the county greatly in terms of economic development and in steering the conversation with the Garner Report. Now we’re trying to find leaders for both our institutions [of higher education]. What does this say to outside companies looking to come to our community? I think this will have a bigger impact than people realize.”

Commissioner Rob Zapple on Thursday evening echoed concerns about the impression outsiders might get of an area “that has sent both of its college heads packing” within less than a year, he said.

Skip Watkins, who like Zapple is new to the board of commissioners, said Friday in a phone interview  that he did not know Spring personally. Referring to this week’s 4-1 vote by the commissioners to authorize issuance of CFCC's remaining facilities bonds, Watkins said he is “confident that the board of trustees will find a proper steward to make sure that the $40 million is spent properly.”

At Tuesday's commissioners meeting as well as at the previous meeting Jan. 5, White took issue with the college's request for the final $40 million, earmarked for an Advanced and Emerging Technologies facility on its North Campus as well as renovations to vo-tech instructional space in downtown Wilmington. He questioned CFCC officials' enrollment growth calculations as well as some spending decisions as the previous $124 million in bond money was used to construct Union Station, the soon-to-open Humanities and Fine Arts building and a new parking deck, citing "lavish and extravagant buildings that lack adequate classroom space and student use."

Commissioner Beth Dawson, in a phone interview Friday, said she was “as surprised as everyone in the community when I heard the news last night. I do not know why he resigned, and I am disappointed for the community.”

Characterizing her relationship with Spring as “positive and professional,” Dawson said she thought he was a good fit for the college and was excited about his leadership as progress continued on CFCC’s new and renovated facilities.

“I wish him all the best and have faith that the staff of the community college will continue to do a good job for the community," she added. "There is so much talent there, and I want them to know they have the community’s support.”

Spring, who has more than four decades of experience in higher education and was himself a community college graduate, came to CFCC from New River Community and Technical College in West Virginia, where he was president.
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