Chattahoochee Technical College President Ron Newcomb has been serving higher education in the state since the early 1980s. Leading the largest technical college in the state, Newcomb says he has enjoyed being part of the growth of a college which has a focus on meeting the needs of a growing industry.
“There’s no question that the greatest positive change has been both the reality and the perception of technical colleges,” Newcomb previously told The Daily Tribune News. “We’ve gone from being viewed as your daddy’s trade school 30 years ago, the [vocation/technical] image of a place you went to if you wanted a job where you’d get your hands dirty, to a technical college that provides technical skills to students that are high tech that require folks to not only be able to work with their hands, but to have the mental and academic abilities to perform at a high skill level.”
Name: Ron Newcomb
Occupation: President of Chattahoochee Technical College
What encouraged you to apply for the position of CTC president?
A: Seeking to be the president was the natural next step in the fulfillment of my long interest in the workforce development done by the technical colleges. I’ve been associated with them since I was working with Gov. Joe Frank Harris and he signed an Executive Order in 1983 creating the first iteration of today’s Technical College System of Georgia. When I left his office in 1988, I went to North Metro Technical Institute while it was under construction and as it opened; I began as a vice president, and I was still there in 2008 when the merger with Chattahoochee Technical College occurred. Last fall, when President Sanford Chandler left, this was an exciting opportunity for me to do even more with technical education, and yes, the fulfillment of a natural ambition to one day be the president of a technical college.
What are some of the responsibilities of being president of the largest technical college in the state?
A: The responsibilities that keep me awake at night are all tied to my realization that what I do or fail to do as president can make a positive difference — or be a lost opportunity. On the one hand, there’s no question that the quality faculty and staff of the college, of course, will carry on quite well each day regardless of what I do and whoever is the president, but I know that I have an impact for better or worse through the vision that I discuss, the tone of what I say, the strategic decisions that I influence, and the resources that I can help bring to the table.
What do you feel are the greatest services the college provides to young people in the community as well as those displaced in the workforce?
A: For the students who choose Chattahoochee Tech, there are two paths and multiple other choices: If a student wants to go straight into the workforce, there is a wide range of technical, business and health programs — some very short and others up to two years — that prepare them for jobs in demand. If a student instead wants to start at Chattahoochee with the intention of transferring on to another public or private college, there are scores of academic courses that will be accepted by many other colleges. Either way, the college is a wonderful first-choice school, with relatively-open admissions, many program choices, at an affordable cost, and in a variety of locations. And of course, for those students who need to first work on basic skills, including adult education or their GED, Chattahoochee is also there to help.
What is the greatest service the college provides to the community as a whole?
A: As an access college in our community, Chattahoochee helps individuals get the job or academic start they need, helps business and industry get the workforce it needs, and collectively this helps communities in its economic development efforts to retain business and industry and to attract new ones.
What was your hardest school subject growing up?
A: In high school, it was without a doubt Spanish and literature (I did love to read though, so I can’t explain the disconnect).
What is your greatest achievement?
A: I might point to having been a long-term part of efforts to foster public education, at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary level. I have a tilt towards wanting to make things better for people, and I recognize the power and value of education in helping that to occur.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Perhaps that my strongest subject in high school and college was mathematics and science — loved them — and I might have become a scientist in a lab today but for an interest in history and government which developed in junior college.
Do you have a personal philosophy?
Appreciate every day, value family and friends, find good things to say about others, try to make a difference, and stay myself.