WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Trustees of Cape Fear Community College have chosen the school's next president.
According to a CFCC news release, the school's board of trustees selected James P. Morton to be the school's president. The board's choice remains subject to approval by the State Board of Community Colleges and final action of the CFCC board following state board approval.
New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield, who is a member of the Board of Trustees, says the vote to select Morton was done in closed session and was not unanimous. Mat White, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said according to state law tonight's vote did not have to be taken in open session. White said if the state board approves Morton's selection, final action by the CFCC Board of Trustees would have to be taken in open session. Barfield added that details of Morton's salary and length of contract are not worked out yet.
Morton was named interim president at Cape Fear in January after serving as the vice president of business and financial services beginning in 2015. He later served as executive vice president of the school.
Morton's salary was questioned by several people who contacted WECT earlier this year, as was the fact that he does not have a doctorate degree. In a February story, we found that of 58 community college presidents in North Carolina, all but three had doctorates.
While serving as interim president, Morton was making $210,000, an increase from the $176,000 he was making as executive vice president. The recommended salary set by the state for presidents of community colleges the size of CFCC is $157,718.
The school said in February, nearly four months after Dr. Amanda Lee announced her resignation as Cape Fear president, that it was forming an ad hoc committee to "evaluate replacing the president."
CFCC has struggled to find a permanent president since the departure of longtime president Eric McKeithan in 2012. At least five people have served as president or interim president at the college in the last six years.
"In his service to the College as Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President, and Interim President, Mr. Morton has proven himself a forward-thinking and innovative leader who can guide the College to new levels of excellence," Chairman White said in Thursday's news release. "With his extensive business, finance, and public relations experience, Mr. Morton brings to this role those essential skills that an effective president must have."
Before being hired by CFCC, Morton was the finance director for the Wilmington International Airport for almost 15 years.
He has also served as president of the Airlie Gardens Foundation Board and the Cape Fear Rotary.
Morton has a bachelor's degree in marketing from the UNCW Cameron School of Business.