SPINDALE (June 29, 2020) — Walter Dalton, president of Isothermal Community College, will retire in February 2021, he announced Thursday.
Dalton made his announcement to trustees, faculty and staff via email. The former North Carolina lieutenant governor, state senator and attorney has been president of the college since May 2013. This year, he has also served as president of the North Carolina Community College Presidents’ Association.
Dalton, whose contract runs through June 2021, told trustees his decision was motivated by the desire to spend time with family.
“At that time, I will be approaching my 72nd birthday and I want to enjoy as many springs as I can and enjoy them with my family, who have stood beside me and behind me through every phase of my professional life as an attorney, an elected public servant, and as an educator,” Dalton wrote to the trustees.
The Board of Trustees will meet on Tuesday, July 7, and are expected to plan the timeline and process for hiring a new president.
“I knew I was going to get that letter one of these days,” said Chairman Roger Jolly, “While it wasn’t a shock, I just wish he’d stay a little longer because he has done such a terrific job for our community, our students, our employees and our trustees. His devotion and commitment to Isothermal have been so valuable. He will be sorely missed and we have a big job ahead of us to fill his shoes.”
“On a personal note, I wish him nothing but the best and I’m glad he will be here until February and the college can continue to benefit from his leadership,” said Jolly.
Dalton, the college’s fifth president, has built a strong legacy in his seven years of service.
“As I reflect, I am proud and pleased with the accomplishments of the Isothermal family during my time in your service,” Dalton wrote to the trustees. “Several new programs have been implemented, such as the RIBN program with Western Carolina University; the equine studies which have been created, the program in dental assisting; hospitality and culinary initiatives; iTECH; and the Global Distinction program, to name a few.
“We have received a record number of grants through ARC, USDA, USEDA, The Stonecutter Foundation, the Golden Leaf Foundation, Z. Smith Reynolds, the Cannon Foundation, Farm Credit, The O. Max Gardner Foundation and others. This, together with local support, has resulted in the construction of the Engineering, Technology and Workforce Development Building, the Agribusiness Complex, new chemistry labs, campus beautification, and new equipment and technology. With the support of the Rutherford and Polk county commissioners and state bond funds, we have been able to make much needed roof and HVAC repairs. These investments should serve the college well for years to come.”
Dalton noted some other accomplishments during his tenure.
“We have seen a wealth of very special guests in science, literature, military, government, entertainment, and sports grace our campus, including a former governor, a former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a leading global scientist in regenerative medicine, and another globally renowned scientist on atmosphere and weather,” he said. “Supreme Court Justices, multiple New York Times bestsellers, NFL owners, and more, engaged with the college and saw its beauty. Some of these appearances led to public television productions on campus by Carolina Business Week and North Carolina Bookwatch. New community oriented ventures such as the Veterans Concert and the Earl Scruggs Music Festival have been initiated and will continue to bear fruit. Intramurals and other activities for students have grown. In addition, we earned our ten-year accreditation reaffirmation from SACSCOC (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Committee on Colleges), which is critical to our ongoing mission.”
Dalton gives credit to the college employees and trustees for all of these successes.
“In this and all things mentioned, it took a team effort and the devotion and dedication of our faculty and staff is unparalleled,” Dalton said. “They believe in ‘taking our students from where they are and taking them as far as they want to go.’ They also work hard to meet the ‘Challenge of Change’ which our students and our community face. These phrases were spoken in 1963 by Dallas Herring, the architect of North Carolina’s Community College System. As long as we adhere to that vision, we cannot go wrong.”