The President of the Year Award was established by the State Board of Community Colleges in 2001. The objective of this program is to encourage, identify and reward outstanding leadership and commitment to the community college mission among the presidents of the 58 institutions of the North Carolina Community College System. The recipient receives $8,000 and a plaque.The foundation of the institution where the recipient is employed receives a donation of $2,000.
This year's recipient is Dr. Mary E. Rittling.
Davidson County Community College’s (DCCC) reputation has solidified under Dr. Mary Rittling’s eight-year presidential tenure. It is widely known as the convening place for the community to explore and find ways to adapt to economic changes and challenges. It is also viewed as a place where problems are often turned into life-changing opportunities.
DCCC’s advanced manufacturing programs, logistics and automotive technology programs provide businesses with a growing source of skilled professionals ready to fill open positions in economic development clusters in transportation and logistics. Using her keen understanding of the needs of business and industry and her ability to forge partnerships with federal and state government, Dr. Rittling helped secure a federal, $18.8 million workforce training grant for nine North Carolina community colleges, of which DCCC will get $2.6 million. The grant will strengthen DCCC’s advanced manufacturing programs and expand training opportunities with Unilin Flooring in Thomasville and Ingersoll Rand in Mocksville.
Dr. Rittling demonstrated her expertise in forging strong common bonds to reach a common goal when DCCC, along with five other North Carolina community colleges, developed a successful, single application to compete for the national Completion by Design initiative funded by the Gates Foundation. Overcoming barriers that may prevent students from completing their degrees, diplomas or certificates is also the focus of a major campus initiative to identify and assist students in achieving their educational and career goals. With over 90 percent of DCCC students eligible for financial aid in 2010-2011, low income students represent a college population who need holistic as well as monetary support. They find it at DCCC due to Dr. Rittling’s student-centered philosophy, which is apparent in every school and department.
Dr. Rittling’s local advocacy for a successful bond campaign in Davidson County resulted in a $5.2 million appropriation that helped build a new DCCC Conference and Technology Center in 2009. Likewise, a $3 million appropriation from the Davie County Commissioners brought the Mocksville campus a new library, bookstore, and one-stop location for admissions, financial aid, and advising. Ten full-time faculty members teach on the Davie Campus where several healthcare curriculum programs are unique to the state.
Professional development on a global scale also takes place on DCCC’s campuses due to Dr. Rittling’s focus on international and global education through faculty exchanges, language emersion and US Department of State student exchanges. DCCC hosts international students, offers international study trips, and makes it possible for Fulbright Scholars to teach on its faculty, providing professional and personal growth opportunities rarely found on community college campuses.
Over the eight years of her presidency, Dr. Rittling’s servant leadership style, student-centered philosophy and innovative thinking have earned her the title of visionary. She sees what “can be” instead of what “is,” and she works tirelessly to share her positive vision with others.