Dr. Allana Hamilton headed to college more than 35 years ago intending to become a medical doctor. Later, as a graduate teaching assistant in biology, and in summers as a state park naturalist helping visitors learn about the park’s plant and animal life, she discovered a love for teaching and changed her career path to education.Through 30 years as a Tennessee community college professor, administrator and president – and most recently as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the College System of Tennessee – her devotion and commitment to students and their success remained her top professional priority and focus.
Dr. Hamilton, 55, passed away Feb. 23, 2021, following a brief illness, leaving an indelible legacy across the state – first at Northeast State Community College where she rose from biology professor to chief academic officer, then as President of Jackson State Community College, and since 2019, as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the Tennessee Board of Regents system office.
Honoring her life and legacy, the Foundation for the College System of Tennessee has established the Dr. Allana Hamilton Memorial Scholarship Fund to assist students enrolled in Tennessee’s community and technical colleges. The Foundation is the primary charitable organization of the College System as a whole, supporting the Student Success and Workforce Development mission of the state’s 13 Community Colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.
“It is my honor to report that a matching challenge to assist the scholarship fund has been created through the generosity of Jim and Janet Ayers and the Ayers Foundation, who have provided the scholarship an initial $25,000 and will match up to $50,000 in donations from others in memory of Dr. Hamilton,” said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings.
“Dr. Hamilton’s professionalism, knowledge, sweetness and collegiality were genuine and ever-present and she shared them liberally with all who knew her. Every word, every action and every day of her life were filled with joy for her family, her students, her colleagues and her work,” Dr. Tydings said.
Donations to the Dr. Allana Hamilton Memorial Scholarship Fund may be made online at https://www.tbr.edu/advancement/hamilton-scholarship, or by mailing a check payable to the Foundation for the College System of Tennessee and noting "Dr. Allana Hamilton Scholarship Fund" to:
TBR—The College System of Tennessee
Attn: Cris Perkins
1 Bridgestone Park, 3rd Floor
Nashville, TN 37214
Dr. Hamilton began her career as an adjunct professor of biology in 1991 at Northeast State Community College, where she became a full-time faculty member the following year. She rose through the ranks to become the college’s Vice President of Academic Affairs in 2008. She served in that role until January 2017 when the Board of Regents appointed her as the fifth President of Jackson State Community College.
As president, she maintained an open-door policy to improve campus communications and built the college’s relationships with the community and with universities across the region, signing articulation agreements with them that paved the way for JSCC graduates to advance their educations. She was a 2018 recipient of The Jackson Award, presented annually by the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation to honor those in the Jackson community “who exemplify the truest qualities of a leader.”
Her husband, James Hamilton, said that of the numerous honors his wife was awarded, she was most touched by the 1996-97 Faculty of the Year Award at Northeast State because it was awarded through the nomination and vote of students. "Lana’s entire career was dedicated and driven by a passion to help students succeed. This honor touched her as it acknowledged her commitment to students. Though her incredible gift of administration removed her from the classroom, her focus remained that students have the opportunity to attend college and succeed."
Dr. Hamilton earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology at Tusculum University, her Master of Science in biological sciences at East Tennessee State University and her Doctor of Education in educational leadership and policy analysis at ETSU.
For more about Dr. Hamilton: https://www.jscc.edu/news/news-article.html?newsid=jackson-state-right-place-at-right-time
For more about the Foundation for The College System of Tennessee: https://www.tbr.edu/advancement/foundation-college-system-tennessee
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.