The Tennessee Board of Regents appointed Dr. Allana R. Hamilton as the fifth president of Jackson State Community College on Thursday.
Hamilton is currently vice president for academic affairs at Northeast State Community College in Blountville, Tenn., a position she has held since 2010. She had served as interim vice president from 2008 to 2010.
TBR Chancellor David Gregory recommended Hamilton for the position on Dec. 8 from among four finalists selected by a search advisory committee composed of board, campus, alumni and community representatives. The Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve the chancellor’s recommendation during a telephone conference call meeting Thursday afternoon.
“It is with great honor, humility, and enthusiasm that I accept the position as president of Jackson State Community College,” Hamilton said after the board’s action. “This is a transformational time in higher education across the nation as well as in Tennessee and at Jackson State. My priorities will include, but not be limited to, working with the faculty, staff, and community as we focus on educational access, student success, quality programs and services, efficiency, and serving the region.
“For 25 years, and over varying roles within the higher education system, I have observed and implemented many processes and procedures that have worked well and some that have not. Through this, I am now more committed than ever to creating an environment where employees flourish, students succeed, and the region benefits and prospers.
“I am very appreciative of this opportunity that I have been entrusted by the Tennessee Board of Regents, and I embrace the responsibility. I am confident in my ability to lead Jackson State in the next phase of its mission and vision. I am excited about the opportunity to become part of the Jackson State community and to facilitate the College’s success and continued growth in serving the region as a premier learning institution,” she said.
Hamilton will assume duties on the Jackson campus on Jan. 10, 2017.
There were 51 applicants for the presidency, the chancellor said, "but the one I bring before you today I feel is the best choice going forward for Jackson State Community College and the success of its students."
Gregory expressed appreciation during the meeting to Dr. Horace Chase, Jackson State's vice president for business and finance who has served as interim president since early September. "He has done a tremendous job in leading the college during this period," the chancellor said.
Regent Barbara Prescott of Memphis, who chaired the presidential search committee, commended all four finalists for the position. She also praised members of the Jackson and Jackson State communities who served on the committee and those who participated in campus visits and forums with the finalists. "I can't say how much I was impressed with the campus representation on the committee -- including the faculty, staff, students and alumni -- and especially the representation from the community," she said, before making a motion to approve the chancellor's recommendation.
"Jackson State has tremendous support from its community and I think that is something we can all be proud of," Regent Prescott said.
Regent Parker Smith, of Kingsport, told his colleagues that he has known Hamilton for years because Northeast State is nearby. "She is a wonderful, very passionate, hard-working person who does a wonderful job. We are going to dearly miss her in East Tennessee but we are willing to give her up for the greater cause," he said.
Hamilton has worked at Northeast State since 1991, initially as an adjunct faculty instructor in biology. She joined the faculty on a full-time basis in 1992 and worked her way up through the ranks of instructor, assistant professor and associate professor to tenured professor and biology department curriculum coordinator. From 2001 to 2008, she served as academic division chair and dean before her appointment as vice president for academic affairs.
In that role, she led the faculty, staff and administration in support of the college’s instructional program. She helped develop new academic programs based on the community’s needs, including, for examples, an industrial operations technical certificate and a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) initiative involving K-12 schools, public and private colleges and universities, employers and community members.
She also provided oversight and guidance to academic deans and for evening and distance education, learning support, the library, honors program, and teaching and learning resources at Northeast. She continuously evaluated the effectiveness of existing academic programs; participated in institutional strategic planning, and developed and managed a $19 million instructional budget.
Hamilton earned her bachelor of science degree in biology at Tusculum College in 1987, a master of science in biological sciences at East Tennessee State University in 1991, and a doctorate in education at ETSU in 2011.
Her experience both in the classroom and in the college’s top leadership will enable her to continue an emphasis on student success, retention and improved graduation rates at Jackson State as it moves forward in the statewide Drive to 55 initiative, Gregory said. Drive to 55 is the state’s effort to equip at least 55 percent of its working age population by 2025 with the post-high-school degrees, diplomas and certificates that will be required for most jobs by that time.
In addition to her career at Northeast, Hamilton has been a volunteer instructor for the American Red Cross and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, an adjunct professor and teaching assistant at ETSU, an MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) biology instructor for Kaplan Test Prep Inc., a summer season naturalist at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park and Warrior’s Path State Park and a staff chemist at BASF Inc. She was a student worker in the registrar’s office while attending Tusculum College.
Her commitment to the mission and philosophy of community colleges is underscored by her enrollment and participation in at least nine leadership institutes and academies focused on student, faculty and institutional success, including the Tennessee Board of Regents Advanced Leadership Academy, Regents Community College Leadership Academy and a 150-hour internship focused on performance funding and research. Her doctoral dissertation focused on student persistence to graduation within a community college.
She has served on more than two dozen committees, some as chair and co-chair, leading various initiatives at Northeast. And she is a Northeast Outstanding Faculty Award winner.
Her complete resume is available on the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/hr/executivesearches/president-jackson-state-communi...
Hamilton will succeed Dr. Bruce Blanding, who retired in September after leading the college since February 2004. Horace Chase, JSCC’s vice president of financial and administrative affairs for 17 years, is interim president.
The search for a new president began in June when the Board of Regents approved criteria for the search and the president. A 16-member search advisory committee was appointed in August, composed of three Regents and 13 representatives of faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community. It held its first meeting and campus and community public forums on Sept. 1.
The committee nominated four finalists on Nov. 7, and each of the four spent a day on the campus participating in meetings and open forums for faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community at large during the week of Nov. 14. In making his recommendation, Gregory took into account input from the search committee and from the campus and community received after the visits and forums.
Jackson State Community College is a public, comprehensive, multi-campus college offering associate degrees and certificates in a learning-centered environment. Its primary service area encompasses 14 West Tennessee counties. The main campus is in Jackson, Tenn., with additional campus locations in Humboldt, Lexington and Savannah. It also offers courses in several high schools and other sites across the region. Jackson State has been ranked as one of the most tech-savvy community colleges in the country.
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.