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University News

ETSU creates Center for Community College Leadership
Dr. Richard Rhoda

JOHNSON CITY (Oct. 17, 2016) – A new Center for Community College Leadership has been established at East Tennessee State University and is under the direction of Dr. Richard Rhoda, former executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and interim dean of the Clemmer College of Education.

The center brings a multidisciplinary approach to addressing the complex issues that face post-secondary education, particularly those in regard to community colleges.  In addition to conducting research projects focusing on the needs of community colleges and analyzing state and regional policies, the center will offer professional development, continuing education and training programs that reflect the needs and priorities of community college leaders.

This includes a new graduate certificate in community college leadership, which accepted its first cohort of students this fall.  The 15-hour credit program prepares individuals for community college leadership positions by focusing on the knowledge, training and skills necessary for those roles.

“The creation of this center and, in particular, the educational programs we are offering, came at the request of community college leaders across Tennessee,” Rhoda said.  “There are a lot of changes occurring in the Tennessee higher education system now, particularly with the FOCUS Act and the ongoing priorities outlined in the Drive to 55 initiative, and our presidents voiced the need to have an educational pipeline to prepare those future leaders of community colleges.”

The certificate program is offered through ETSU’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis where Rhoda serves as an adjunct professor.  The program was designed primarily for individuals who are employed at a community college and who wish to pursue a greater leadership role at that or another institution, he noted.

“For years, community colleges have focused on access and on providing as many students as possible the opportunity to attend college, but with the Complete College Tennessee Act, there is a greater emphasis on completion,” Rhoda explained. “Community colleges are being asked to do more things, and a lot of changes are occurring.”

Rhoda retired from THEC in 2014 after a career in Tennessee higher education that spanned more than 40 years.  He began his career in 1973 as a member of the research staff with the Tennessee Board of Regents and eventually assumed the position of executive assistant to the chancellor.  He served on the administration of Tennessee State University and the faculty of Vanderbilt University and was interim president of both Nashville State Technical Institute and Austin Peay State University, as well as acting chancellor of TBR before being confirmed as executive director of THEC in September 1998.

He retired from that role Dec. 31, 2014 and was named interim dean of ETSU’s Clemmer College of Education in September 2016.

For more information on the new certificate program as well as the Center for Community College Leadership, call 423-439-4430 or email .

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