McCray inaugurated as 9th Camp Community College president

Published 5:02 pm Friday, April 28, 2023

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Dr. Corey L. McCray was named interim president of Paul D. Camp Community College on April 21, 2021, and he was officially hired as the institution’s next president on Oct. 25 of that same year. 

On Friday, April 21, two years to the day that he began leadership of the college, McCray was formally inaugurated as Camp Community College’s ninth president before a crowd of state and local officials, community members, his parents, his wife and his daughter, who all gathered in the school’s Regional Workforce Development Center in Franklin.

Offering remarks at the inauguration were CCC Vice President of Academic and Student Development Dr. Tara Atkins-Brady; Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Omega Zeta Chapter President Elijah Watson, speaking on behalf of the student body; and Franklin Baptist Church Senior Pastor Dr. Charles Qualls.

Local College Board Chair-elect Dr. Gwendolyn P. Shannon, who is also superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, offered greetings to McCray from the board.

Following a vocal performance by Lauren Hendrick of the song “I Believe,” Storbeck Search Managing Director Dr. Christopher Lee served as the keynote speaker for the inauguration.

He started his speech by highlighting the word at the heart of it — care.

“Friends, I’ve spent my career as a human resources professional,” he said. “I’ve been a student of leadership and organizational behavior. In the past three decades, I’ve learned a great deal about organizations, and considerable research supports the observations that I’ve uncovered.

He noted that first, in the 21st century, organizations that do well in the human domain outperform all others.

“The human domain involves an emotional component that makes all the difference — what people think, but more importantly what they feel,” he said.

He highlighted the concept of organizational culture, indicating how some organizations seem to have a “special sauce” or ethos, led by leaders who know how to harness human potential.

“In my formal role as the chief human resources officer for the (Virginia Community College System), I experienced the best leadership development program ever,” Lee said. “I got to work with and support 23 different leadership teams.”

He noted that a leader is a state of being, someone who does at least two very important things.

“One is, they take responsibility,” he said. Moments later, he added, “Second, leaders care. They care enough to do something about things that need to be done. They feel responsible. They feel responsible, and they take incessant action until things get done because they care just that much. And when you care, that creates the courage to do hard things.

“I’m not here to tell you that Dr. McCray is a bright and intelligent man, that he is educated and accomplished, that he’s a superhero that wears a cape and he’s capable of doing many important things — you already know that,” he continued. “I’m here to say that he’s earned a lot of accolades, yet for me, the thing that makes him special is that he cares. That is THE distinction of this man.

“And because he cares, he has invested a lot of his heart and soul into the students, the college and the people of this community,” he said. “He has already done many amazing things over the past 18 months or so, and there are a lot of noteworthy things that are already in progress. He didn’t do these things because they are nice to do, because he has a title or because someone is watching. His efforts are noteworthy because he cares for and believes in our students.”

VCCS Chancellor Dr. David Dore’ performed the investiture, and McCray was introduced by Dr. Edna Baehre-Kolovani, who is the retired president of Tidewater Community College.

In the opening of his presidential address, McCray said, “I’m honored to be standing here today before you and grateful for the confidence you’ve entrusted in me to lead this great college towards achieving its mission.

“On this glorious afternoon we honor Camp Community College — a remarkable institution with a proud past and a promising future,” he continued. “I stand before you today as the ninth president of Camp Community College. Although April 21st of 2021 was the first day that I began as interim president, today marks the celebration of the formal opening of a new era in the nearly 53-year history of this college.”

In reference to his vision for CCC, he said, “I believe the best vision for our college is the one that we will develop together as a community.”

In the conclusion of his speech that came later, he made a point to thank all those who have supported him along the way and that were present at the inauguration, including his family and former CCC presidents.

In his expression of gratitude, he exhibited the quality that Lee noted is his distinction.

“To the college faculty, I am ready to do the work ahead,” McCray said. “Together, with all of you, we will educate students and help them realize their dreams. Thank you for your tireless efforts. It is because of you that lives are changed. You are consummate professionals with unwavering commitment to your craft. As your president, I pledge to collaborate with you and demonstrate my appreciation for you often and with the sincerest gratitude. Thank you.”

Among the groups and individuals he acknowledged, he also highlighted the CCC student body.

“The Camp Community College students, who are represented today by Mr. Elijah Watson, we are here because of you,” he said. “Whenever I chat with our students, I come away feeling optimistic because they’re our future, and I believe we’re in good hands. The mission of this college is to prepare you, Camp Community College students, for lives of distinction. Thank you.”

Providing closing remarks at the inauguration was Dr. Hyler Scott, CCC director of student support services. 

Dr. Antipas L. Harris, president and dean of The Urban Renewal Center, offered both the invocation to open the inauguration and the benediction to conclude it.