Editorial: Hite retirement signals an end and beginning
Jan 05, 2014 | 620 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As Dr. William Seymour prepares to launch a new era Monday as president of Cleveland State Community College, he understands — and probably is among the first to recognize — that he is following in the footsteps of a legend in higher education.

We refer of course to Dr. Carl Hite, the now-retired CSCC president who has led the two-year school — and who literally has taken it to new heights — for the last 17 years.

A longtime educator himself who arrives in Cleveland from Jackson State Community College where he served as vice president for institutional advancement, Seymour undoubtedly will bring new ideas and a fresh perspective on how to best leverage the growing relationship between CSCC and the Cleveland community, as well as surrounding cities and counties whose young people, and whose working adults, view the school as a first step into advanced education and promising careers.

As Seymour settles into his new position — Monday is his first day on the job — we assuredly will have more to say in welcoming this professional educator to our Cleveland and Bradley County community.

But today, our focus is on the retiring Cleveland State leader. Those who know him best often warmheartedly say of Dr. Carl Hite that he towers over most in the community. From a physical sense, that is correct. This former basketball player is not difficult to find in a crowd. His full head of white hair makes it even easier.

His laugh, his welcoming smile and his uncanny ability to bring comfort to any conversation have made him a favorite among government, civic and nonprofit leaders within our hometown.

But the college administrator also towers for another reason. It is because of his dedication to education and his staunch belief in the value of community colleges. Within the realm of learning, Hite is indeed a giant.

The academic successes at Cleveland State have been multiple during his tenure. Yet, the new retiree concedes the college on occasion has struggled.

Such trials have nothing to do with CSCC specifically. They have everything to do with the nature of community colleges and how they are perceived by some.

Hite even spoke on the perception during a community sendoff held Dec. 19 at The Venue Creekside. Because of their small size, community colleges often must deal with bad reputations.

“That’s wrong,” the outgoing CSCC president stressed. “This college has done so much ... I think this college will continue to excel.”

We agree.

Cleveland State Community College has served many roles for Cleveland and Bradley County residents, as well as those who commute from surrounding jurisdictions to share in the opportunity created by this beautiful campus of higher education.

The school’s contributions have been plentiful, just a few of which include:

Cleveland State Community College has given young students fresh out of high school a sense of direction, especially those uncertain of their immediate and longterm futures.

Cleveland State Community College has brought convenience to working adults who have a desire to return to the classroom and to complete, or to begin, academic work toward degrees.

Cleveland State Community College has instituted helpful partnerships with area employers, and especially major corporations, to implement training programs that can benefit their employees in their current and future lines of work.

Cleveland State Community College has expanded, and continues to grow, articulation agreements with an array of larger universities that share a common mission; that is, providing quality education and usable credit transfers from one school to another.

Cleveland State Community College has served as a viable part of this community by making available its resources, buildings and facilities for public events and organizational gatherings.

Cleveland State Community College is bringing to its campus more and more special guests whose inspiring messages are just as relevant to area residents as they are to its students.

Cleveland State Community College has provided a willing pool of volunteers for a growing collection of local causes, and this includes students, faculty members and administrative staff.

To quote a popular adage, Cleveland State Community College has become everything for everybody.

This commitment doesn’t come by accident. It is a belief, and a personal value, of a visionary — one named Dr. Carl Hite.

He will be missed, but this fine president’s legacy will live on and on and on, especially among those who share his passion for higher education and community on the Cleveland State campus.

We will have more to say about Dr. Carl Hite in editions to come.

In the meantime, we wish this dedicated educator a happy retirement.

And to Dr. William Seymour, we offer a warm welcome and a restated pledge to partner with the Cleveland State vision and mission, just as our newspaper has done since the start of the school’s first classes some 47 years ago.