BY MARY KATE MURPHY
Sandhills Community College’s third president will start work at the end of this month under a contract the college’s Board of Trustees has approved.
The trustees unanimously selected Alexander “Sandy” Stewart in May from the 84 applicants who applied to succeed John Dempsey. Dempsey, who retired at the end of 2022, was just the second president at the community college since its founding in 1964.
Stewart is a Moore County native and crop scientist by training who has been the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ assistant commissioner of agricultural services since 2018.
He’ll officially move to the president’s office next week under a one-year contract starting June 29. The initial term ends June 30, 2024 and the contract provides for annual renewals through June 30, 2026.
Stewart’s compensation package totals $240,000. On top of a base state salary of $160,863, he will receive supplements of $25,000 each from the county and the Sandhills Community College Foundation.
The foundation will also pay a $21,000 residence allowance annually. Stewart’s county compensation also includes $8,400 in car and phone allowances.
Stewart holds a doctoral degree in crop science from N.C. State University and spent 10 years working at Louisiana State University and N.C. State as an associate professor and agricultural extension specialist in cotton and tobacco.
He moved over to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2011 when Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler recruited him to direct 18 research facilities statewide.
Sandhills’ Board of Trustees decided to hire him as president at the end of a nationwide presidential search it conducted this spring. Stewart served as a trustee for seven years by appointment of the Moore County Board of Commissioners, resigning last year after Dempsey announced his retirement.
The trustees approved his contract in a short meeting last Thursday.
“I believe the last six months that I have served will probably be the most important time that this college sees in what I hope will be the next 20 years,” said Trustee Catherine Graham, a former county commissioner appointed to serve out the remainder of Stewart’s term.
“I foresee our young incoming president being here for 20 years. I certainly hope he will. I think we made a great decision. I think we all vetted every application we thought needed to be vetted, and we all supported the person that was chosen.”
Per the terms of the contract, the college will also reimburse Stewart’s professional expenses up to $50,000 per year. The contract also gives the trustees an “extended notice period” each year to elect not to renew the contract between April 1 and June 30.
Based on his previous 13 years of employment with the state of North Carolina, Stewart will have 20 days of vacation time. The contract also provides for 30 days of annual leave and 10 personal professional days for conferences and other professional functions.
Contact Mary Kate Murphy at (910) 693-2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.