Board of Regents appoints Susan Hatto & Patrick Wade as next presidents of Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology at Athens & Murfreesboro

Patrick Wade, Susan Hatto

During its quarterly meeting today, the Tennessee Board of Regents appointed Susan L. Hatto as the next president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Athens and Patrick Wade as the next president of TCAT Murfreesboro.

Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recommended both candidates to the board after reviewing input from the two college communities following campus forums last month, and then further interviewing the finalists. Both were among separate sets of finalists selected by search committees at their respective colleges.

“I believe these are the best individuals to lead TCAT Athens and TCAT Murfreesboro, by continuing the good work that is already in progress at both colleges,” Dr. Tydings said. “I believe they can lead our colleges into an even brighter future centered on student success.” Both will take office early in the new year.

Hatto is currently dean for industrial education and workforce training at Montcalm Community College in Sidney, Michigan, where she has worked since 2002. She earned a master’s degree in education from Capella University and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Grand Valley State University. She has completed the coursework and comprehensive exam toward a doctorate in strategic leadership at Liberty University. Her resumé and more information about the college are posted on the TBR executive search webpage for the Athens presidency.

Susan L. Hatto

Hatto will succeed President Stewart Smith, who is retiring at the end of the year after 21 years as TCAT Athens’ chief executive officer and 30 years of overall service with Tennessee’s public technical colleges. “I’m honored and blessed to be able to move to Tennessee. I love the town of Athens and I’m super excited to be the next president of TCAT Athens. I look forward to working with the faculty and staff there for the success of our students, and getting to know the people in the community and meeting their needs,” she said.

Wade is currently vice president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville, where he has worked since 2012. He holds a master of science in management and leadership from Western Governors University and a bachelor of business administration in finance from Tennessee Technological University. His resumé and more information about the college are posted on the TBR executive search webpage for the Murfreesboro presidency

Patrick Wade

Wade will succeed Dr. Carol Puryear, who retired in September after more than 28 years of service in the TBR system, including two separate tenures as TCAT Murfreesboro’s president and as a vice chancellor at the system office. Dr. Jeff Sisk, executive director of the TBR Center for Workforce Development, is serving as interim president. “Thank you for the trust and the wonderful opportunity to serve the Murfreesboro area and Tennessee. I’m ready to jump in feet first,” Wade said.

The board approved the search criteria for both presidencies in August. Separate search committees at each college reviewed and interviewed candidates before recommending finalists. Search committees were composed of Board of Regents members and representatives of the colleges’ faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the local business and civic communities.

In other action, the Board of Regents – which governs Tennessee’s public community and technical colleges – renamed TCAT Paris as the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Henry/Carroll, effective in May 2023. The new name is part of the merger of TCATs Paris and McKenzie, which will have the same name when the merger is completed in 2024. The new name reflects the home counties, Henry and Carroll, of the two campuses.

The board also:

  • Approved new strategic plans at Chattanooga State, Dyersburg State, Jackson State and Roane State community colleges; system budget revisions; faculty emeritus designations, and institutional compensation proposals.
  • Approved a request by Chattanooga State to name its engineering, technology, arts and science building the Gerald McCormick Center for Engineering, Technology, Arts and Science in honor of the former member and leader of the Tennessee House of Representatives and Chattanooga civic leader.
  • Approved a request by Dyersburg State to name the campus activities building the Dr. Carl Christian Andersen Hall in honor of a former president of the college.
  • Approved a revision to the TBR Undergraduate Academic Retention and GPA Standards Policy that would allow students seeking admission or readmission as certificate-seeking students to be eligible for Academic Fresh Start, and a revision to the Purchasing Policy that would increase various thresholds for purchasing and bidding.
  • Approved new or expanded career and technical education programs at seven TCATs, including a new Criminal Justice/Correctional Officer program at TCAT Chattanooga, new Nursing Aide program at TCAT Jacksboro, new Farming Operations Technology program at TCAT Northwest’s Bells Instructional Service Center, and a part-time evening and weekend Truck Driving program at TCAT Oneida/Huntsville.

The board received several informational reports and updates from system office staff, including:

  • The systemwide fundraising and grants report for fiscal year 2021-22, which reported that the community colleges raised just over $18.9 million and the Foundation for the College System of Tennessee just under $1.1 million, for a total of just over $20 million during the year, an increase of $6.6 million from the previous year.
  • An update on construction of the new TCAT campus at Ford’s Blue Oval City electric vehicle manufacturing site under development in West Tennessee. Grading work on the new campus is scheduled to begin next week and the technical college is on schedule for completion in May 2024. The new campus will serve as both a training facility for employees at Blue Oval City and its suppliers and a technical college open to other students.
  • A financial overview of the system.
  • An innovative dual enrollment program for future teachers, operated as a partnership among Nashville State Community College, TCAT Dickson, Austin Peay State University and Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools.  

The meeting, held Dec. 1 at the TBR system office in Nashville, was live-streamed and is archived on the TBR website at The full agenda, executive summary and detailed board materials are posted at the same link.


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.