Board of Regents appoints Susanne Cox next president of TCAT Morristown, approves criteria for next president of Northeast State Community College

During its quarterly meeting Thursday, the Tennessee Board of Regents appointed Susanne Cox as the next president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Morristown, effective May 1, and approved the search criteria for the next president of Northeast State Community College.

Cox has been vice president of TCAT Morristown since 2014 and was one of the finalists selected by an 18-member search advisory committee on March 2. Following public forums on campus by the finalists, TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recommended her appointment to the board earlier this month. She will succeed President Jerry Young, who is retiring at the end of April.

Susanne Cox

“I never imagined when I began my career as bookstore clerk almost 32 years ago, that I would become the college president,” Cox said. “We have a great team at TCAT Morristown. I truly have a passion for technical education – for seeing students succeed, families succeed and my community succeed. So I’m really excited about continuing the great things at TCAT Morristown and moving the college forward. I am honored and grateful to Chancellor Tydings and the Board for this opportunity and look forward to working with faculty and staff to serve our students, our community, and making our college the best it can be.”

Regent Miles Burdine, who chaired the search advisory committee, made the motion for Cox’s appointment. “During the search process, there’s always faculty and staff on the committee and I could just feel and see the positive comments and attitude within faculty and staff about wanting Susanne to have this job,” he said.

The board unanimously approved the appointment. Cox earned a master of education degree in instructional leadership, with a concentration in career and technical education, at Tennessee State University, and a bachelor of science degree in organizational management at Tusculum University.

She joined the staff at TCAT Morristown in 1990 as a bookstore clerk and assistant to the president, and 10 years later was appointed business office manager in 2000. From 2010 to 2012, she served as a student services support associate, followed by service as financial aid coordinator from 2012 to 2014, when she was appointed the college’s vice president.

Cox completed the inaugural class of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Innovation and Leadership Fellows, a professional development program for the next generation of higher education leaders in the state. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce. Her full resume is available on the TBR website at

The Board of Regents, which governs the state’s public community and technical colleges, also approved search criteria for the next president of Northeast State Community College. Dr. Bethany Bullock stepped down as president earlier in March, and Dr. Connie Marshall, Northeast’s vice president for academic affairs, is serving as interim president. Approving criteria for the next president is the first step in the search process.

The criteria, the complete agenda, background materials and an archived video of the meeting, which was live-streamed, are available for review on the TBR website at  

In other action during the meeting, the board received a report on college enrollment from Fall 2021 and preliminary enrollment for Spring 2022.

Final enrollment figures for Fall 2021 reflected 74,543 students enrolled at the 13 community colleges – 5,623 fewer students than Fall 2020, 14,403 fewer than Fall 2019 and the lowest headcount enrollment at the community colleges since 2001. The community colleges’ fall enrollment was down 16 percent since Fall 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March 2020. Two community colleges increased enrollment in Fall 2021: Dyersburg State grew by 4 percent and Cleveland State grew by 3 percent.

Enrollment at the 26 colleges of applied technology totaled 23,011 in Fall 2021 – 3,212 more students than Fall 2020 and 1,707 more students than Fall 2019. Total TCAT enrollment increased by 8 percent over Fall 2019. Sixteen TCATs saw increases in enrollment over Fall 2020.

Preliminary enrollment figures for the current spring term show continued enrollment increases at the TCATs compared to Spring 2020. The preliminary numbers, which will change before final figures are compiled, indicate 17,332 students registered at the TCATs as of March 17, up 16 percent compared to the same point last year. That includes 6,779 high school dual-enrollment students registered, a 34 percent increase from this time last year. There are 10,553 non-dual-enrollment students registered, a 6 percent increase from this time last year.

Preliminary spring enrollment at the community colleges indicates 61,628 students are currently enrolled, 6 percent lower than this point in Spring 2021.

In other action, the Board of Regents:

  • Approved new strategic plans for Northeast and Walters State community colleges.
  • Heard an informational report on the work of The Ayers Foundation and the Ayers Scholars Program, which has shown dramatic success in increasing college-going rate, retention and completion rates in the areas it serves – primarily rural areas, with a focus on low-income and first-generation college students. 
  • Heard a report by Chancellor Tydings on the system’s Statewide Outstanding Achievement Recognition (SOAR) Awards to outstanding students, faculty, staff, and benefactors on Wednesday. A full report is on the TBR website at
  • Heard a report on a new remote employment training course designed to help students and recent graduates learn strategies for working remotely.
  • Approved compensation plan methodologies that were reviewed and recommended by the board’s Personnel and Compensation Committee on March 25.
  • Approved two new TBR policies – one to strengthen financial management of student organizations, and one governing the use of gift cards. Under the policy, gift cards must be for $100 or less, and could be used as thank-you gifts for, for example, volunteers who are not college employees, as part of a grant project if approved by the grant term, or as an incentive to encourage participation in things like student surveys.
  • Approved two policy revisions – one on student organizations as needed to implement the new financial management policy above, and one on the addition of students’ high school GPAs as an assessment method for placement of students in learning support programs. Adding high school GPA as an assessment method will result in about 2,000 fewer students having to take learning supports per year.
  • Approved 29  new programs and modifications of existing programs at the colleges of applied technology.
  • Approved  eight faculty emeriti recommendations.
  • Approved a president emeritus designation and contract for Dr. Karen A. Bowyer, who retired Dec. 31 as president of Dyersburg State Community College after more than 37 years of service.
  • Approved naming the mathematics building at Dyersburg State Community College the Dr. Karen A Bowyer Mathematics Building in honor of the college’s former president. Dr. Bowyer began her higher education career as a mathematics professor, and was the first woman to serve as president of a public college or university in Tennessee.
  • Approved a resolution of appreciation for TCAT Morristown President Jerry Young, who is retiring at the end of April after five years as the college’s president and 33 years of service in the TBR system.

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.

Meeting/Event Information
March 2022 - Quarterly Board Meeting