WSCC names Hathcock director of Demopolis campus

Published 4:13 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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Plans announced to create ‘full-service’ community college for Demopolis area

During a press conference Tuesday, officials with Wallace State Community College announced parts of its long-term vision for its Demopolis campus, beginning with the hiring of Blaine Hathcock as campus director.

Hathcock has served the past four years as the principal at Demopolis High School. Prior to that he was the principal at Demopolis Middle School.

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“I am delighted that Blaine has agreed to serve as the next campus director,” said Dr. James Mitchell, president of Wallace Community College Selma-Demopolis. “He is an accomplished scholar and a proven academic leader. He shares the aspirations and values of our mission, including a commitment to the care of each person and service to the common good. We look forward to welcoming him to campus this summer.”

Blaine Hathcock

Since announcing WSCC would move into the Demopolis Higher Education Center last summer, Mitchell said the groundwork was being established to create a “full-service” community college in Demopolis. Along with naming Hathcock as the local campus director, it was also announced that the old National Guard Armory building would be renovated to host the college’s technical programs as well as a nursing program.

“This will be a first-class facility that our region will be proud of and provide needed job training,” Hathcock said.

While Hathcock said it was hard to leave the Demopolis School System, he looks forward to his new role with WSCC.

“I’ve had many conversations with Dr. Mitchell about his vision and we share a lot of the same visions in what we want (this campus) to look like,” Hathcock said. “He is someone I have a lot faith in and I thank him for this opportunity to grow professionally while helping to benefit the City of Demopolis and the entire area.”

Hathcock said part of the vision for the campus is to serve local industries by providing trained workers and at the same time helping local residents find higher-paying jobs. He said part of achieving that vision would be accomplished by working closely with K-12 schools in Marengo and surrounding counties.

“This is not a one-year plan, but failure is not an option. We share a commitment to make this successful for our area,” Hathcock said.

Along with its technical programs, the campus will continue working with K-12 schools to provide dual enrollment opportunities for students.

WSCC-Demopolis will be staffed locally, providing technical training programs as well as academic programs that can be transferred to other educational institutions.

“A lot of students are driving to other community colleges because there has been a void here. This campus will fill that void allowing those students to do the same thing and stay closer to home,” Hathcock said.

He also said future plans would also include hybrid classes that provide more flexibility for working students. These classes would involve coming to a physical class for a portion of the program while also utilizing online instruction.

“We want to get out of the mindset that school is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. We are working on ways to provide more flexibility so that people can better themselves,” Hathcock said.

Mitchell said the nursing program coming to Demopolis was initiated based on discussions with local health officials, including Whitfield Regional Hospital CEO Doug Brewer. There will be three programs offered and seen as a way to benefit, not just new nursing students, but also assist nurses seeking career mobility and accreditations.

“We are not taking a cookie-cutter approach to this campus; we want to meet the needs of the community and we feel very good about bringing a nursing program here,” Mitchell said.

Dr. James Mitchell

Also attending the Tuesday announcement was Demopolis Mayor John Laney who said he feels confident in the future of the city’s Higher Education Center.

“From 2001 until today, this campus has passed through a lot of different hands. I feel we have finally found the leadership to make this facility what is was always meant to be. With the effort Wallace is putting in here, we will have a true community college in Demopolis,” Laney said.

Chuck Smith, the District 7 representative on the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees, said the WSCC campus in Demopolis has the full support of the board.

“We are committed to make this successful,” Smith said. “The money is there to help turn the armory into a regional training center. We have true faith and confidence that this will be a shining jewel here in Demopolis.”

Mitchell said hiring Hathcock as the campus director is directly linked to the college’s commitment to serving the local area.

“We wanted to find someone from Demopolis; someone who has done an outstanding job in education for Marengo and surrounding counties. We feel (Hathcock) is the right person,” Mitchell said.

The Demopolis Board of Education approved Hathcock’s resignation during its meeting Monday evening.

“On behalf of the Board of Education, we are very happy for Mr. Hathcock and his family for the career opportunity presented to him,” said Demopolis Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff. “As the director of a two-year college campus, Mr. Hathcock becomes one of few administrators in the state of Alabama with this title. Over the last year, Mr. Jimmy Baker, the Chancellor of Alabama’s Two Year College System, has sought after the best principals in the state to run his campuses. We are proud that a principal who has been serving the Demopolis community for the last eight years is amongst this company. Mr. Hathcock’s new role will continue to strengthen the dual enrollment opportunities for the students at Demopolis High School.”

The system will begin advertising to fill the principal vacancy and conduct a “state-wide” search for candidates. Kallhoff said a recommendation to the board could come in late June with a new principal in place by mid-July. He added that Hathcock has agreed to be available as much as possible to help the new DHS principal with a smooth transition.

Hathcock has served for over 25 years in K-12 education, ranging from classroom teacher, coach, athletic director, transportation director and assistant principal. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama and graduate degrees from the University of North Alabama and the University of West Alabama.

While principal at DHS, Hathcock was named the District 3 Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools’ Principal of the Year in 2019-20. The high school was recognized in 2018 by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 20 high schools in Alabama and was one of 31 campuses recognized as a CLAS School of Distinction.

Enrollment for summer classes at Wallace State Community College-Demopolis is underway with classes scheduled to begin late May.