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Flora appointed next president of Northeast State Community College

Rick Wagner • Nov 13, 2018 at 12:51 PM

NASHVILLE — It’s official: Bethany H. Flora, Ph.D., will become the new president of Northeast State Community College.

The Tennessee Board of Regents appointed Flora as the next president of Northeast State on Tuesday. The board also appointed Kelli A. Chaney as the next president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville. Both will assume their new duties effective Jan. 2.

During a public question-and-answer session last month on the campus of Northeast, Flora said Northeast should lead the area in regionalism and said she would not micromanage as president. She also talked about her time on the family dairy farm in Meadowview, Virginia.

Joel Welch of Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was the other finalist for the Northeast job.

To lead Northeast State, Flora is leaving as associate director of the Center for Community College Leadership at East Tennessee State University, where she also serves as associate professor of postsecondary leadership in ETSU’s Clemmer College of Education. She earned her Ph.D. in higher education administration at Virginia Tech, her Master of Arts in organizational management at Tusculum University and her Bachelor of Arts in business and public administration at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Her complete resume is on the TBR website at tbr.edu/hr/executivesearches/president-northeast-state-community-college.

Flora will succeed TBR Executive Vice Chancellor James King, who has served as interim president at Northeast since the retirement of Janice Gilliam, Ph.D., in June 2017 after eight years as the college’s president. Gilliam retired after votes of no confidence from the Faculty Senate and then full faculty in early 2017.

Faculty cited financial issues and a “climate of fear” in the votes, and after Gilliam’s departure King implemented a $5 million “right sizing” of Northeast that included temporarily halting the building of the largest-ever community college capital project in the history of Tennessee, what was called the Emerging Technologies Complex. However, a groundbreaking was held in late October for that project, renamed the Technical Education Complex.

King recently said he will remain at Northeast for a time after Jan. 2 to help in the transition of leadership at the Blountville-based school, which started in 1966 as a vocational school and adjoins Tri-Cities Airport.

Chaney will succeed Dwight E. Murphy, who is resigning as president of Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Knoxville after serving six years in a dual role as president of the Knoxville campus as well as TCAT Oneida/Huntsville. Murphy is remaining as president of the Scott County campuses.

TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recommended Flora and Chaney following months of review of applicants by two separate search advisory committees appointed earlier this year by the board. The committees were chaired by board members and each included two to three other regents, along with representatives of the colleges’ faculty, staff, students, alumni and the communities they serve. Board members who served on the search committees said they were deeply impressed by the level of support in the Tri-Cities area for Northeast State and in the Knoxville area for TCAT Knoxville.

The board unanimously approved both of the chancellor’s presidential recommendations.

“These are exciting times for higher education in Tennessee. Northeast State is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for educated, healthy and engaged graduates to serve as leaders in our communities, civic organizations and businesses,” Flora said after the vote in a TBR news release. “I am honored to be selected by the board and look forward to being a member of the College System of Tennessee’s technical and community college presidential team.”

Flora could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Northeast spokesman Bob Carpenter said she would be available later for media interviews.

After her appointment, Chaney said via the TBR release, “I am excited to be part of the TCAT Knoxville family and look forward to creating new energy and opportunities that drive innovation and workforce development. Fostering relationships with strategic partners that align with the needs of business and industry is a high priority. Students will graduate from our programs knowing they have received world-class training or credential that will lead to direct employment.”

The search committees recommended finalists for both positions last month, and both sets of finalists then visited the respective colleges for meetings with the campus communities. The chancellor gathered input after the meetings and conducted further interviews with the finalists before recommending one nominee for each presidency.

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As reported earlier Tuesday by the Kingsport Times News online:

 

The Tennessee Board of Regents today appointed Dr. Bethany H. Flora as the next president of Northeast State Community College in Blountville. Flora is currently associate director of the Center for Community College Leadership at East Tennessee State University.

According to a Tuesday afternoon press release: 

 

“The Tennessee Board of Regents today appointed Dr. Bethany H. Flora as the next president of Northeast State Community College in Blountville and Kelli A. Chaney as the next president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville. Both will assume their new duties effective Jan. 2.

“Flora is currently associate director of the Center for Community College Leadership at East Tennessee State University, where she also serves as associate professor of postsecondary leadership in ETSU’s Clemmer College of Education. She earned her Ph.D. in higher education administration at Virginia Tech, her Master of Arts in organizational management at Tusculum University and her Bachelor of Arts in business and public administration at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Her complete resume is on the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/hr/executivesearches/president-northeast-state-community-college.

“Flora will succeed TBR Executive Vice Chancellor James King, who has served as interim president at Northeast since the retirement of Dr. Janice Gilliam in June 2017 after eight years as the college’s president.

“Chaney is dean of career education and workforce development at Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg, Ky., and a candidate for her doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy this semester at Eastern Kentucky University. She earned her Master of Arts in community college leadership and her Bachelor of Business Administration degrees at Morehead State University. She earned an Associate of Arts degree at Prestonsburg Community College. Her complete resume is posted on the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/hr/executivesearches/president-tennessee-college-applied-technology-knoxville.

“Chaney will succeed Dwight E. Murphy, who is resigning as president of TCAT Knoxville after serving six years in a dual role as president of the Knoxville campus as well as TCAT Oneida/Huntsville. Murphy is remaining as president of the Scott County campuses.

“TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recommended both Flora and Chaney following months of review of applicants by two separate search advisory committees appointed earlier this year by the Board. The committees were chaired by Board members and each included two to three other regents, along with representatives of the colleges’ faculty, staff, students, alumni and the communities they serve. Board members who served on the search committees said they were deeply impressed by the level of support in the Tri-Cities area for Northeast State and in the Knoxville area for TCAT Knoxville.

The Board unanimously approved both of the chancellor’s presidential recommendations.

After the Board’s action, Flora said, “These are exciting times for higher education in Tennessee. Northeast State is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for educated, healthy and engaged graduates to serve as leaders in our communities, civic organizations and businesses. I am honored to be selected by the Board and look forward to being a member of the College System of Tennessee’s technical and community college presidential team.”

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