James King, Tennessee Board of Regents vice chancellor for the Colleges of Applied Technology, has been elected chairman of the Council on Occupational Education, the national accrediting agency for postsecondary occupational and technical career education institutions.
King was elevated to a one-year term as chair at COE’s annual meeting in San Antonio this month after serving a term as vice chairman of its leadership team.
The Council on Occupational Education was founded in 1971 as the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. As a unit of SACS, the commission provided accreditation services to postsecondary occupational education institutions primarily in the 11-state southern region.
The Council became a fully operational nonprofit agency in June 1995, transferring out of SACS and assuming a national role recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Headquartered in Atlanta, COE currently accredits about 600 schools in 39 states, including the U.S. Department of Defense’s technical training schools and Jobs Corps schools.
“It’s an honor to be elected chair of an organization that demands accountability of its institutions,” King said. “The 45-year relationship the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology have had with COE has assisted in making the Tennessee Board of Regents system a national model in postsecondary career and technical education."
TBR Chancellor David Gregory said King’s selection is well deserved. “Vice Chancellor King has helped make the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology a national model for technical education. They’ve been recognized as such by Complete College America and by Bill Gates. James will do an excellent job as chair.”
King, a native of Hardeman County, began his career as a vocational agriculture teacher in West Tennessee high schools in 1978. He joined the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Whiteville – then known as the state’s Area Vocational Technical Schools -- as assistant director in January 1983.
Six months later, the Area Vocational Technical Schools were transferred from the governance of the state Department of Education to the Tennessee Board of Regents and later renamed Tennessee Technology Centers before becoming the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. After serving as director at TCATs Whiteville, Crump and Memphis, King moved to the TBR system office in 1999 as vice chancellor – only the second vice chancellor for theTCATs in their 33 years under TBR. There are now 27 TCATs across the state.
King is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin and has a master’s degree from the University of Memphis.
He is also a board member and immediate past president of SkillsUSA, the national partnership of students, teachers and industry that provides educational programs, events and competitions supporting career and technical education. He serves on the board of trustees and is past president of the American Technical Education Association and is a board member for the National Technical Honor Society.
Under his leadership, the TCATs system has won national recognition for student completion and job placement and licensure rates.
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.