Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings will recommend Dr. Rebecca Ashford as the next president of Chattanooga State Community College in a special called meeting of the board on Friday, May 12.
Ashford is vice president of student affairs at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, a position she has held since July 2008. She began her higher education career in 1997 as a student advisor at what was then Brevard Community College in Florida, and has held executive-level appointments at three community colleges since 2000. She was one of four finalists selected by a 21-member Search Advisory Committee in mid-April, following a nearly three-month search and review of applicants.
Gov. Bill Haslam, chair of the Board of Regents, has called the board into a special meeting, by telephone conference call, at 1:30 p.m. CT Friday, May 12, to receive and consider the chancellor’s recommendation. The board appoints all its community college presidents and directors of the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.
During the special meeting, the board will also consider a new process for selecting nominees for faculty and student members of the Board of Regents – a change made necessary by the FOCUS (Focus on College and University Success) Act of 2016. The meeting is open to the public and press as listeners. For dial-in information, contact TBR Communications Director Richard Locker at 615-366-4417 or firstname.lastname@example.org by 10 a.m. CT May 12.
Each of the four finalists for the Chattanooga State presidency spent a day on the campus last month participating in meetings and open forums with various constituent groups, including faculty, staff, students, alumni and the public. Ashford’s campus visit was April 19; her curriculum vitae and the archived video of the open forum are available on the TBR website here: https://www.tbr.edu/hr/executivesearches/president-chattanooga-state-com....
Ashford holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degree, a Master of Arts in Higher Education Student Personnel and a Bachelor of Science in English Education, all from the University of Central Florida, and an Associate in Arts degree from Brevard Community College, now Eastern Florida State College.
She was a student advisor at Brevard from 1997 to 1999 and student development specialist from 1999 to 2000. She held three separate deanships at Brevard: dean of educational services from 2000 to 2003, dean of student services from 2003 to 2005 and dean of enrollment management in 2005. She then served as vice president for student affairs at Broome Community College in Binghamton, N.Y., from 2006 through June 2008, when she was appointed vice president of student affairs at Pellissippi State in Knoxville.
At Pellissippi, Ashford was the senior student affairs officer for the five-campus college with over 10,000 students enrolled in credit courses. Her responsibilities included enrollment management and student services, including admissions, records, financial aid, advising, new-student orientation, counseling, disability services, access and diversity, student support services, student life and recreation, placement, veterans services and judicial affairs.
Tydings interviewed all four finalists, then, after their campus visits, gathered feedback from search committee members and the forums and meetings to select one candidate for nomination to the board. A form on the TBR website allowed anyone to submit comments and views on the candidates.
“I am very pleased to recommend Rebecca Ashford for the presidency at Chattanooga State,” Tydings said. “We had a very strong pool of applicants and an excellent slate of finalists for the position. I believe Dr. Ashford would be a great leader for the college and the entire campus community.”
Tennessee law and TBR policy set out the process for the selection of public college presidents. The board approved the Chattanooga State search criteria and appointed members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee on Jan. 27. The committee's charge was to identify and interview candidates and then narrow the original pool of 63 applicants to three to five finalists.
Comprised of four members of the Board of Regents and 17 representatives of faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community at large, the committee held its first meeting and open forum Feb. 10 on campus. Regent Tom Griscom of Chattanooga chaired the committee; other board members who served were Howard Roddy and Thomas A. H. White, both of Chattanooga, and Danni Varlan of Knoxville.
The next president will succeed Tydings on the Chattanooga campus. Tydings was Chattanooga State’s president from 2015 until she assumed her new role as TBR chancellor on Feb. 1. Debbie Adams, Chattanooga State’s vice president of student affairs and workforce development, is serving as interim president.
Chattanooga State Community College is a comprehensive, public two-year postsecondary institution whose primary service area includes six counties in Southeast Tennessee. It has over 8,500 credit students and over 700 non-credit students. The college employs approximately 640 full-time employees, including 238 full-time faculty members, and operates on a budget of $95 million.
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.