New Leadership for Nash Community College Board of Trustees 2023-2024 Academic Year
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel James Mercer is a man who practices what he preaches, both literally and figuratively. Mercer has been a lifelong public servant and learner, and he will serve as the Chair for the Nash Community College Board of Trustees for the 2023-2024 Academic Year.
Mercer has been involved with NCC for the past 30 years. He has been serving on the NCC Board of Trustees for the past six years. However, his first connection with NCC was as a student in the Criminal Justice program. He also worked for NCC in the Continuing Education department for three years. He also taught public safety and emergency management classes for NCC on a contract basis, teaching Rescue classes and Firefighter I and Firefighter II classes in the community, traveling to various fire and rescue squads to do so.
Mercer understands the importance of NCC and community colleges as a trustee.
“I believe the purpose of a trustee is to make sure the college is getting the resources it needs to be successful,” said Mercer. “As trustees, we serve the students, faculty and staff and we try to be good stewards and role models in the community that we serve.”
Mercer describes the unique opportunity afforded to NCC students.
“The community college gives our students another educational option if they don’t want to attend a four-year school,” said Mercer. “NCC provides an affordable avenue and allows students to get ahead.”
He has a first-hand account to the benefit of attending a community college, such as NCC.
“I personally experienced that when I attended the college, it allowed for a seamless transition to Shaw University (Raleigh, N.C.),” said Mercer.
For those who do not want to attend a four-year college, Mercer wants the community to understand that community colleges can provide training for important jobs that pay well and that will allow individuals to make a decent living and provide for their families.
“The local community college plays a vital role in the post-secondary education system in our community and throughout the State of North Carolina,” said Mercer.
Mercer believes some of the challenges NCC faces include – the need for enrollment increases and salary increases for staff and faculty. He also stated that Nash County is a large rural county, which can create transportation challenges for some students.
“We need to ensure NCC does not continue to lose students to other nearby community colleges,” said Mercer. “I’d like to see us improve our enrollment of males in the minority. We are seeing a decrease at NCC and across the state.”
He encourages other NCC trustees to contact legislators and discuss financially supporting the community college so that the college can provide the salary increases needed to keep faculty and staff.
“We have (Blue Love); we are family, and families work together,” said Mercer. “We (the board of trustees) always welcome feedback from the staff, faculty and students.”
Education is very important to Mercer; he received an Associate of Arts from Nash Community College, a Bachelor of Arts from Shaw University and a Master of Arts from Grace College and Seminary.
Mercer is quite an accomplished man.
“My proudest accomplishment is my family and our bond,” said Mercer. “I am also proud of my career and serving in the military for 30 years, from which I was able to retire.”
Mercer is a proud member of various organizations in the community, including his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, Shriners Temple, Rofelt Pasha # 175, and his church at Thornes Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC. His hobbies include refereeing college and high school basketball and football.
“It had been my pleasure to work with Mr. Mercer as a Trustee during my first four years at Nash, and I look forward to spending my fifth year with him while he serves as Chair,” said Dr. Lew K. Hunnicutt, president of NCC.
Along with Mercer assuming new duties and responsibilities, fellow trustee Russell Proctor III will serve as the Vice-Chair for the Board.
Proctor has served as a trustee since 2016 and has been a member of the NCC Foundation Board of Trustees.
“The college is also very lucky to have Russell Proctor serving as Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees this year. As with Trustee Mercer’s, Trustee Proctor’s experience will help propel the college into the future in a great way,” said Dr. Hunnicutt. “I look forward to working with them and all Nash Community College Trustees.”
He has spent most of his career in the financial industry and currently works at Stifel Nicolaus in Rocky Mount, N.C., since 2010.
In addition to his commitment to NCC, he has participated in multiple community organizations, giving back to the community. He is a member of First Presbyterian Church, Kiwanis Club, North Carolina Wesleyan College Board of Visitors, Psi Chapter Sigma Nu Fraternity, Rocky Mount Jaycees and North Carolina Department of Commerce Job Development Investment Grant Committee. He is a former board member of the American Red Cross, Tar River Choral & Orchestral Society and Nash County Travel & Tourism Council.
He has a list of accomplishments in his professional and philanthropic career, including the creation of the Ambassadors program for Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce, the organization of the largest contingent of Boy Scouts of America from Nash/Edgecombe County to attend Philmont Scout Ranch (2008, 42 youth and adults) and receipt of Silver Beaver Award and helped organize and structure North Carolina Housing Finance Agency in 1980.
Proctor received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been married to his wife Nancy for 47 years and they have two children, Amanda and Lee.