FLORENCE, S.C. – Jermaine Ford might have found his permanent home.
Ford was appointed president of Florence-Darlington Technical College in August. He began working on Monday, just in time for a Tuesday meeting of the college’s governing commission.
After the meeting, he told the Morning News that he applied for the position because he felt like the community was similar to his hometown in Illinois – he estimated his hometown had three or five traffic lights – and to the community served by Southern Louisiana Technical College, where he served as vice president of workforce and economic development.
“For me, it was like coming home,” Ford said. “Although, I didn’t grow up here, it was like coming home.”
He said that when he interviewed with the commission, he and his wife didn’t leave right afterward. They stayed for another day to see the people and learn about the community.
“My wife said, ‘Dear, this feels like home,’” Ford said. “I said yes it does. Happy wife, happy life.”
Ford’s love for the region apparently was similar to the love the college’s governing commission had for him. Ford was unanimously appointed by the college’s governing commission in August.
He replaces interim president Ed Bethea, who served from 2018 until Ford’s appointment by the commission earlier this year. The most recent permanent president of Florence-Darlington Tech, Ben Dillard, retired in 2018.
“I got the call in August to come to the Florence-Darlington Tech family, and I have been off to the races since doing research,” Ford said. “What a wonderful community we have. In Florence County, Darlington County and Marion County, we have some good people, and my Lord, we have some good food.”
Ford said for the first 90 to 100 days, he plans to do a deep dive assessment and to get to know the community and the college’s stakeholders.