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New RCTC VP was at center of NC controversy


Rochester Community and Technical College's new interim vice president for student affairs was at the center of a controversy two years ago that brought down a North Carolina state university chancellor and also led to his own resignation.

RCTC announced Wednesday that Anthony Brown, interim vice president for student support services at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, N.C., would fill the student affairs VP job on an interim basis for 18 months, effective Nov. 9. Brown replaces Alex Herzog , who was reassigned by RCTC President Leslie McClellon in June and left the college after just one year on the job.

Herzog's departure was the second major change in the college's VP ranks since McClellon took over as president in July 2014 . In December, she reassigned then-Vice President of Academic Affairs Jim Gross, and he left the college soon after.

When Brown's hiring was announced last week, the RCTC news release said he has "33 years of leadership experience in higher education." It notes that "previously he served within the field of student affairs as Vice Chancellor, Associate Vice Chancellor, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Dean of Student Services, Director of Multicultural Student Affairs and Director of two federal TRIO programs."

The news release doesn't note that Brown was an administrator at Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, N.C., from 1999 to 2013, nearly half his professional career. As vice chancellor of student affairs from 2007 to 2013, he was in charge of campus police, security and student housing.


In 2009, a campus security drill went badly awry and attracted national media attention . According to news reports, as part of the drill a masked campus security officer entered a classroom and theatened to kill the instructor and students. Students and staff said they were not informed of the drill and thought the incident was real.

Students were offered counseling after the Elizabeth City incident, and University of North Carolina system administrators said they were "disappointed" with how the matter was handled.

In early 2013, a student on the 2,900-student campus reported to campus police that a man had attempted to assault her three times in her dorm room between February and April. When campus police appeared not to investigate, the woman went to a magistrate and city police, and that led to misdemeanor charges being filed against a residence security officer.

As a result of that incident, investigators from city police and the North Carolina Bureau of Criminal Investigation began looking into the campus police handling of other criminal reports and found "widespread evidence" of witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. The investigation found that campus police had failed to investigate or inform federal officials of about 125 criminal incidents, including more than a dozen sexual assault reports.

The university removed the campus police and campus security duties from Brown's student affairs division. T he campus police chief resigned in May 2013 and a year later was charged with a misdemeanor for failing to investigate the criminal reports.

The university chancellor, William Gilchrist, announced his resignation in May 2013, four days after he acknowledged that campus police had failed to follow up on the complaints. Gilchrist's resignation was effective June 30, and on Aug. 21 , the interim chancellor announced Brown's "retirement," effective immediately.

As of late August 2013, all but 14 of the criminal complaints had been resolved, according to news reports , and new procedures were in place for campus security.

Brown's wife, Hermanda "Bernetta" H. Brown, was the university's general counsel at the time. Her employment was "discontinued," according to university officials, in October 2014.


Last spring, in the aftermath of the investigation, the state Senate considered but rejected a budget provision that would have closed the state university, which was founded in 1891.

In a conference call Monday with the Post-Bulletin that also included McClellon, Brown said he believes the North Carolina matter was handled fairly and "we were always concerned with the safety of our students on campus. We were able to resolve many of the cases" that were revealed as a result of the investigation. "I think in the end it resolved itself."

McClellon said she was "aware that there had been a situation" at Elizabeth City "but not of all the findings ... the wrapup with the investigative team. Some parts of that I did not know and would not know. Some of these things are just not uncommon on college or university campuses when you're dealing with a large number of investigations."

"This isn't something that was of great concern," McClellon said. "I was very impressed with how it was handled after the fact."

RCTC, which has nearly twice as many students at Elizabeth City State University, doesn't have a campus police force. It has three full-time security officers and about a dozen students who wear uniforms and assist in security.

Mike Wenzel, the RCTC student president, said Monday that Brown's record is reason for concern. "The safety of our campus is an extremely important issue for students," he said, and Brown's experience in North Carolina is not reassuring.

A search committee composed of faculty, staff and students had forwarded three candidates for the student affairs job, McClellon said. She said none of the three were strongly endorsed by the committee and she chose not to proceed. A smaller committee then began a search for the interim position. A search consultant found several candidates, including Brown,and McClellon said the committee "strongly recommended" Brown, with whom she said she had no previous association.

Brown, 56, has an "expertise that we're looking for here at RCTC," she said. "I think he's the best candidate because he'll come here and do the best things for RCTC and do phenomenal work for our students. I think we have a very good professional who is coming to the campus."


Leslie McClellon
Leslie McClellon

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