Dr. David Shockley
President of Surry Community College
Distinguished 2005 NC State College of Education Alumnus
I use my training from the College of Education so often that it is difficult to be specific about any one element of my practice as a leader that stems from that source. Perhaps my association with Dr. Michael McCall is a good example. I am grateful that he took the time to allow me to do research about his leadership within the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. He worked with the Governor Patton of Kentucky to transform the community college system there to be what it is here. I met him through my studies and he became an advisor. To have someone of that stature to take the time and energy to take interest in me was instrumental in my development. I am grateful to my NC State instructor who encouraged me to complete that project.
There were three major areas of training at the College of Education that made a big impact on what I deal with day in and day out. First, I have to make data-based decisions and the methodology classes gave me the skills to do that. Second, there are many social issues facing leaders today. Dr. Don Locke’s classes on multiculturalism helped me have a greater understanding and open-mind when working with others. Finally, there is not a day that goes by that I do not have to deal with a lack of funds. My course on finance and investments has been instrumental. One of the main things I remember from that class is the concept of transparency. A leader must make sure that the institution knows how the bills are paid-we must be open and honest about the college’s fiscal stability.
As for the advice I would give to current College of Education leaders: Be proud of the program at NCSU! You are part of a program that has been revered for years and years from the days of Malcolm Knowles. NC State’s College of Education has high standards. When I compare what I was compelled to do versus other doctoral programs, I feel great pride.
Words of wisdom that I would give to a student who is considering enrolling in the College of Education are to know that we are at a critical time in the community college system. Community Colleges are needed very much but the resources are not there. Leaders will need to work hard and be creative to continue the tradition generated by North Carolina’s community colleges. I encourage any willing student to take up the leadership mantle and carry on to meet this challenge.
The best advice I could give to a student who is working full time is, “Keep going!” Don’t try to eat the entire elephant with one bite. Work at it bite by bite but be persistent. You may think you are not going to finish but you will.
My advice to a student who has just enrolled would be to decide early on a dissertation topic and do all of your assignments with that topic in mind. This will contribute to the literature review of your dissertation. Otherwise, you will find yourself starting at the very beginning of the project when you finish all of your coursework.
For students who are already involved with their dissertation: Many have gone before you and many will come behind. Do good work but remember that you are not trying to cure cancer. The time you sacrifice now with family and friends will be worth it. Your doctoral degree will open doors that would not otherwise appear before you.
Dr. Shockley previously served as Executive Vice President after advancing through two Vice Presidencies there. Under his leadership, Surry Community College was named as a candidate for the prestigious 2015 Aspen Prize.