Central Georgia Tech trustees support Natale

A local push has begun to keep Central Georgia Technical College President Ron Natale from being ousted by the state.

The college’s local board of trustees met Tuesday and discussed the decision not to renew Natale’s contract with the technical college system. That decision was made by system commissioner Ron Jackson and became public last week.

Billy Pitts, who chairs the fundraising board, wouldn’t discuss that meeting in detail Tuesday evening. But he did say the subject was broached and that he “absolutely” wants Natale to stay at the college.

Former state Rep. Robert Ray, who sits on a separate Central Georgia Technical College board focused on college operations, said that board will discuss the situation next week.

“I was very shocked and disappointed (by the decision).” said Ray, who represents Crawford County on the board. “(Natale has) done such a wonderful job of bringing all these counties and communities together.

“I know all the other members that I’ve talked to were very disappointed and shocked,” Ray said. “I mean (it was) just out of the blue sky.”

A spokesman for the system will not discuss the reason for Natale’s departure, scheduled for sometime in September after his current contract ends, saying it’s a personnel matter that must be kept private. But in an e-mail last week and a telephone interview with The Telegraph on Tuesday Natale said that plans to move CGTC’s Milledgeville campus under the jurisdiction of Sandersville Technical College are at the heart of the matter.

Natale said Jackson told him that he felt Natale was working against the move. Natale said he had nothing to do with it, though. He said CGTC’s operations board passed a resolution opposing the change last fall, but he didn’t make a recommendation one way or the other.

“As far as districting, mergers, those sorts of things, that’s not my decision,” Natale said.

Mike Light, spokesman for the state’s technical college system, said he couldn’t comment on the issue.

“Nothing new that I can say,” Light said Tuesday. “Like I said this is a personnel matter and the commissioner has made his decision.”

Just what form a local push to keep Natale will take remains to be seen. Several members of the CGTC boards have told The Telegraph they’d like Natale, who has been at the college since February 2007, to stay.

Pitts said he’d be willing to go into more detail about the effort today. Natale said the local support has been “heartwarming.”

“There are a number of folks that would like to change that decision,” Natale said. “At this point I do have to be careful (what I say). And there are a number of considerations. I don’t want this to get ugly.”

To contact writer Travis Fain call 744-4213.