Board of Regents appoints next presidents of Northeast State Community College and TN College of Applied Technology Knoxville

Bethany H. Flora, Kelli A. Chaney

The Tennessee Board of Regents today appointed Dr. Bethany H. Flora as the next president of Northeast State Community College in Blountville and Kelli A. Chaney as the next president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville. Both will assume their new duties effective Jan. 2.

Flora is currently associate director of the Center for Community College Leadership at East Tennessee State University, where she also serves as associate professor of postsecondary leadership in ETSU’s Clemmer College of Education. She earned her Ph.D. in higher education administration at Virginia Tech, her Master of Arts in organizational management at Tusculum University and her Bachelor of Arts in business and public administration at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Her complete resume is on the TBR website at

Flora will succeed TBR Executive Vice Chancellor James King, who has served as interim president at Northeast since the retirement of Dr. Janice Gilliam in June 2017 after eight years as the college’s president.

Chaney is dean of career education and workforce development at Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg, Ky., and a candidate for her doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy this semester at Eastern Kentucky University. She earned her Master of Arts in community college leadership and her Bachelor of Business Administration degrees at Morehead State University. She earned an Associate of Arts degree at Prestonsburg Community College. Her complete resume is posted on the TBR website at

Chaney will succeed Dwight E. Murphy, who is resigning as president of TCAT Knoxville after serving six years in a dual role as president of the Knoxville campus as well as TCAT Oneida/Huntsville. Murphy is remaining as president of the Scott County campuses.

TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recommended both Flora and Chaney following months of review of applicants by two separate search advisory committees appointed earlier this year by the Board. The committees were chaired by Board members and each included two to three other regents, along with representatives of the colleges’ faculty, staff, students, alumni and the communities they serve. Board members who served on the search committees said they were deeply impressed by the level of support in the Tri-Cities area for Northeast State and in the Knoxville area for TCAT Knoxville.

The Board unanimously approved both of the chancellor’s presidential recommendations.

After the Board’s action, Flora said, “These are exciting times for higher education in Tennessee. Northeast State is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for educated, healthy and engaged graduates to serve as leaders in our communities, civic organizations and businesses. I am honored to be selected by the Board and look forward to being a member of the College System of Tennessee’s technical and community college presidential team.”

After her appointment, Chaney said, “I am excited to be part of the TCAT Knoxville family and look forward to creating new energy and opportunities that drive innovation and workforce development. Fostering relationships with strategic partners that align with the needs of business and industry is a high priority. Students will graduate from our programs knowing they have received world-class training or credential that will lead to direct employment.”

The search committees recommended finalists for both positions last month, and both sets of finalists then visited the respective colleges for meetings with the campus communities. The chancellor gathered input after the meetings and conducted further interviews with the finalists before recommending one nominee for each presidency.

In other action during today’s special called meeting, the Board approved the search criteria for the next president of TCAT Pulaski, where President Tony Creecy is retiring effective Jan. 2 after working at the college since 1985 in various capacities and since 2012 as its president. Tydings is appointing Dr. Lynn Goodman as the interim president there to serve after Creecy’s retirement until the next president is selected. Goodman is special assistant to the chancellor and was formerly associate vice chancellor for the colleges of applied technology.

The Board of Regents also approved several recommendations made by its Personnel and Compensation Committee last week, including:

  • Appointment of TCAT Jackson President Jeff Sisk to also serve a dual role as president of TCAT Whiteville. Whiteville President Carolyn Beverly is retiring Jan. 1.
  • Approval of a salary equity adjustment for President Youlanda Jones for expanded her recently expanded responsibilities as the head of TCAT Newbern, in addition to TCATs Covington and Ripley. Some TCAT presidents oversee multiple campuses.
  • Approval of a $500 per month housing allowance for college of applied technology presidents. Presidents of the community colleges receive a $900 monthly housing allowance, and a similar allowance for presidents of the colleges of applied technology is another step toward equity between the two sets of presidents.
  • Approval of a one-time salary payment plan for employees of some colleges of applied technology whose institutions did not meet a deadline for submitting such proposals to the Board’s quarterly meeting in September. The technical colleges previously acted in unison on some compensation proposals and were granted more autonomy by the Board this year, but several did not meet the September deadline for Board approval.

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.