Tennessee Board of Regents member Tom Griscom of Chattanooga chaired the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and facilitated forums for finalists Bethany Flora Wednesday and Joel Welch Thursday. At both forums, held at the Regional Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Wellmont Center for the Performing Arts) on the Blountville campus, he urged folks who attended, watched in real time online or later watched the archives of live-streamed forums to take surveys available online at https://www.tbr.edu/hr/executivesearches/president-northeast-state-community-college.
Griscom said TBR Chancellor Flora Tydings will use the surveys to help her decide which finalist to recommend to the TBR.
Flora is associate director of the Center for Community College Leadership and an assistant professor at East Tennessee State University.
Welch is vice president of Instructional Services for Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, N.C.
(Because of print space constraints, the online articles about the finalists are longer than those that appeared in print versions of the Kingsport Times News.)
She grew up in Meadowview, Va., in Washington County. He grew up in Greenville, S.C. Growing up on a dairy farm, Flora said she walked barefoot through cow piles. Becoming an engineer, Welch said he knew a lot about dirt and poop. Both comments drew smiles and laughter from the audience.
The hour-long forums had the finalists make opening statements, take questions and then make closing remarks.
WHAT DOES THE FACULTY THINK?
Trish Crawford, president of the Faculty Senate at NSCC, said both candidates are qualified and either would be a good choice. She served on the committee and said of all considered, they were the only two with unanimous support from all 17 members. By Tennessee law, the identifies of all considered for the job but the finalists, which could number no more than three, are confidential.
“We’re very excited to see both of the candidates on campus,” Crawford said Thursday after the second forum. “Either one has the potential to move us forward as an institution.”
Both candidates said it was time to move on from the controversies surrounding former President Janice Gilliam, who resigned in mid-2017 after a faculty vote of no confidence and a TBR investigation into faculty complaints of financial problems and a “climate of fear.” James King of TBR took over as interim president when Gilliam left but did not seek the position permanently.
WHAT IS THE BACKGROUND OF EACH CANDIDATE?
Flora got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, her master’s from Tusculum University and her Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She has worked in her current position since 2016 and also has been an associate professor of post-secondary and private sector leadership since 2011. She also served as assistant provost for Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, director of graduate recruitment and retention at Radford University and site facilitator of the Workforce Investment Act Grant at NSCC.
Welch earned his bachelor’s civil engineering degree at The Citadel, his master’s of civil engineering from the University of South Carolina and his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Clemson. He has held his current position at Forsyth since 2016. Before that, he held a variety of positions at Greenville Technical College including dean of business and technology, dean of the technical division, associate vice president of administration and dean of the engineering technical division. He also worked as an engineer before his education career.