RALEIGH, N.C. — The former president of North Carolina’s community college system has said he was forced from the post.

In an email sent to The News & Observer of Raleigh, the newspaper reported Jimmie Williamson, who resigned on July 31, wrote that he also believes his job became collateral damage after a battle over Senate Bill 420, which allowed the State Board to replace a local college trustee board with an interim board in “extreme circumstances” of negligence or fiscal mismanagement.

The legislation arose from a crisis involving Martin Community College when the State Board intervened after a negative state audit. The board withheld funding for the salary of former president Ann Britt, who eventually stepped down after the audit.

The bill passed the state Senate but hasn’t cleared the House.

Scott Shook, chairman of the state board, said last Friday he couldn’t comment specifically on Williamson’s situation, saying it was a personnel issue.

“Obviously he resigned from the community college system,” Shook said. “Personnel issue – that’s all we can say about that. I haven’t had any contact with him, he hasn’t had any contact with us.”

Beyond the Martin Community College issue, Williamson, who left the job in September, said the system staff became frustrated with his learning curve on North Carolina procedures and politics.

“The board knew it was hiring an outsider – someone who had a proven track record in the private sector as well as higher education when they hired me,” his email said. “What did they expect? That I would be able to learn this massive state in less than one year? Absurd. I was never given planning objectives or evaluation criteria – much less the privilege of being able to correct any perceived missteps along the way.”

Last Friday, the board’s transition committee reviewed a presidential profile that seeks someone with “a general understanding of and appreciation for the mission and philosophy of the North Carolina Community College System. The candidate of choice should be a creative, visionary, experienced leader of high energy, exemplary personal integrity and professional ethics and should possess the ability to work with and respect a constituency of diverse needs and interests.”

Ann Whitford, co-chair of the transition committee, said there is no set timetable for a hire, she said, and the committee will cast a wide net for candidates.

Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com