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Rockingham Community College President Mark Kinlaw ’98EDD Receives 2021 I.E. Ready Distinguished Leader Award

Rockingham Community College President and I.E. Ready Award winner Mark Kinlaw

Mark Kinlaw ‘98EDD has been honored with many professional recognitions and awards during his more than three-decade career in community colleges, but he believes that his success has always come, in part, because of the people he surrounded himself with. 

It is for that reason that he felt humbled when he received the I.E. Ready Distinguished Leader Award during the 2021 Dallas Herring Lecture. The honor recognizes an NC State graduate for exceptional leadership within the community college system.

“I have never viewed my career to be about me, but about the students and businesses we serve, so being singled out from so many others that are deserving of this award is humbling,” he said. “At the same time, it is very satisfying that my peers have recognized me for the work I have done and been part of for more than 33 years.” 

Kinlaw, a graduate of the NC State College of Education’s Adult and Community College Education doctoral program (now known as the Community College Leadership program), has dedicated his professional career to community colleges. Beginning as a history and education teacher at Robeson Community College, Kinlaw took on various leadership roles over the years before ultimately accepting a role as president of Rockingham Community College in 2015. 

As president, Kinlaw has improved Rockingham Community College’s ties to community businesses and supported the launch of several degree and workforce development programs with the goal of providing more opportunities for students. Under his direction, the college began offering new associate degrees in environmental planning and development, teacher preparation and emergency medical science.  

He also worked in conjunction with local schools and foundations to create the Rockingham Promise, which enables high school students to take college courses at their schools and earn scholarships to Rockingham Community College. 

In addition, Kinlaw has invested in North Carolina’s agricultural industry by helping to launch an agribusiness technology program — which allows graduates to apply their credits to earn a Bachelor of Science in the Agriculture Education program at North Carolina A&T University– and renovated several campus buildings, including the addition of a simulated hospital that brought increased enrollment in health science programs. 

“Our community college system is second to none. It is an honor to be part of something so good,” Kinlaw said. “I believe I.E. Ready and the early founders and leaders of our great system would be proud of all the work that has been accomplished, but there is a lot more to do. Students and businesses are looking to us. I look forward to continuing to be part of our community college system and serving our students.”