Board of Regents appoints next presidents of Cleveland State Community College and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology Harriman and Henry/Carroll

The Tennessee Board of Regents today (Feb. 28, 2024) appointed the next presidents of three of the community and technical colleges it leads:

Andy White Dr. Andrew W. White, next president of Cleveland State Community College. He is senior director of the Fast Forward program at Belmont University and was previously dean of the business and technology division at Volunteer State Community College. He earned a Doctor of Education degree in Education Leadership at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, a Master of Science in Public Administration from Central Michigan University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Tennessee.
Chris Ayers Christopher W. Ayers, next president of Tennessee College of Applied Technology Harriman. He has been vice president of TCAT Harriman since 2012. He earned a Master of Arts in Instructional Leadership and a Bachelor of Science in Education, both from Tennessee Technological University, a Graduate Certificate in Community College Leadership from East Tennessee State University, and is currently a student in ETSU’s doctoral program in education leadership.

John Penn Ridgeway, next president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Henry/Carroll. He has been mayor of Henry County since 2020, and previously served as vice president of TCAT McKenzie from 2012 to 2020 and was a staff member there since 2007. He earned a Master of Arts in Education from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Tennessee at Martin.

The three new presidents were among sets of finalists selected by search advisory committees at each of the three colleges and who participated in public forums on the respective campuses. After reviewing public and campus community input from the forums and conducting final interviews, TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recommended each of the three new leaders to the Board of Regents. She and the Regents who led the search committees commended all the finalists as excellent candidates.

During a special called meeting today, the board voted unanimously to appoint each candidate.

White will assume his duties at Cleveland State April 1, succeeding former President Ty Stone and interim President Ray Brooks. As director of Belmont University’s Fast Forward program, White leads the university’s efforts to create partnerships to improve postsecondary completion, education equity, and economic mobility for underserved students and underemployed adults through success in high demand jobs. After a 20-year career as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, he joined the University of Tennessee in 2007 and held administrative roles in UT’s Haslam College of Business before accepting a position as dean of the business and technology division at Volunteer State Community College in 2019.

“It’s an honor to be selected by the Regents as the next president at Cleveland State Community College,” White said. “I look forward to serving the college’s students and the faculty, staff, and community partners who support them. Cleveland State has been transforming and enriching the lives of students and fueling the economic success of southeast Tennessee for decades. It's an honor to join the team that is carrying on that great tradition.”

Ayers, who has served as vice president of TCAT Harriman for the last 12 years, will succeed President Danice Turpin effective this Friday, March 1. She is retiring after 35 years of service in the TBR system, the last 16 as president of TCAT Harriman. Ayers began working in the TCATs in 1999, in student services, and has served at TCATs Livingston, Murfreesboro and Harriman.

“My passion for technical education creates a desire for me to spread the importance and need for technical education to others, and for that I strongly believe in the power of partnerships,” Ayers said. “Those partnerships begin with strong relationships. Strong relationships were important for my technical skills foundation and will be a primary platform for TCAT Harriman as we strive to improve technical training for our service area and the State of Tennessee. Strong community relationships, business and industry relationships, and K-12 relationships are vital to the growth and support of technical education.”

Ridgeway will transition to the TCAT Henry/Carroll presidency effective July 1, returning to the college he helped lead before his election as Henry County mayor. (TCAT McKenzie, which he joined in 2007, merged with the former TCAT Paris last year to form TCAT Henry/Carroll. The two colleges have shared the same presidency for several years.) He will succeed President Willie Huffman, who is retiring after three years as the president and 36 years of service to the college.

“I am extremely grateful and humbled to serve the people of Northwest Tennessee. I consider it a privilege to lead a dedicated faculty and staff with the tremendous reputation for turning out a talented workforce,” Ridgeway said. “There is no doubt this describes TCAT Henry/Carroll and what the Board of Regents represents. What an honor it is to say I am coming home!”

The new presidents’ resumés and information about the search process at each college are available on the TBR website:

Today’s meeting was livestreamed and is archived on the TBR website at

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 24 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.