Community reception introduces new COA president Jack Bagwell

Published 9:35 am Saturday, March 7, 2020

The College of The Albemarle hosted a community reception Feb. 25 at Mako’s Restaurant in Kill Devil Hills to welcome new president Dr. Jack Bagwell.

Bagwell began his career with COA on December 2, 2019. Valerie Mueller, executive assistant to Bagwell, said it was a “unanimous decision” for who was chosen as the eleventh president of the college. “I think he’s going to be an excellent fit,” Mueller said.

Bagwell came to COA with 28 years of educational experience. He is originally from Rock Hill, South Carolina. After teaching at York Technical College for 23 years, Bagwell transferred to Piedmont Technical College, where he served as vice president of academic affairs.

Mueller mentioned that just like COA had looked into Bagwell’s background, he had also researched COA and the area thoroughly before accepting the position. “I was really very specific about where I wanted to end up,” Bagwell said in an interview with The Coastland Times. “I had no other ‘irons the fire’ – I didn’t have any other options.”

Bagwell said he wanted to be involved with a college community he could connect with and add value to. At this point in his career, Bagwell said it was important to go somewhere he wanted to stay.

In terms of the biggest takeaway Bagwell has had since exploring and working with Dare County, he said: “For Dare County, it’s just the partnerships that exist, the support of the county.” He added, “I did a lot of purposeful research, but everything I thought I was getting, I got.”

He expressed his gratitude for the community taking time to come out for the reception, given everyone’s hectic schedules. Most members of the Dare school board were present at the reception, as well as Dare County commissioners, COA students and leaders and many others.

Timothy Sweeney, dean of COA’s Dare campus, described Bagwell as “an inspiring leader.” He mentioned how Bagwell was actively engaged in the community immediately and appreciated Bagwell’s optimism. “Even if I was thinking of retiring, they’re going to have to push me out now, because I would work for this guy for the next ten years,” Sweeney said.

With some big changes taking place in the COA community, Bagwell said he was ready to welcome the new endeavors. “I like change not for change sake, but I like to see how we can get better with everything we do,” he said.

Tevin Ford, a COA student, spoke about his experience with COA thus far in his educational career: “This is an institution of excellence and it continues to grow and get better.” Ford is an international student from Jamaica who is vice president of both the student government association and the national society of leadership.

“I had a great first impression of the faculty and staff of Dare County; everyone was ready and willing to help me with any problems I may have,” Ford said. He added that out of all the institutions he has attended, COA works hard to hire the best people to work with and teach their students.

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