Dr. Seymour has begun his first month at the helm of Cleveland State, succeeding Dr. Carl Hite.
The new president was the choice of a search committee headed by Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed in December by the Tennessee Board of Regents. Before moving to our city, the new president was at Jackson State Community College where he served as vice president of instructional development.
Congratulations to Dr. Hite for a job well done. He is only the fifth president at Cleveland State, providing 17 years of leadership. That makes him the longest serving president of the college since its beginning in 1967.
During his tenure, Cleveland State has earned an excellent reputation for academic success, technological training for students to enhance the region's workforce and supporting sports and arts events.
The leadership change emphasizes the important role Cleveland State has played in our community since the mid-1960s when local leaders like the late Mayor William Fillauer, Frank Manly, Eugene Callaway, John Dunlap and so many others worked hard to secure one of Tennessee's first community colleges.
Recently, a 1969 promotional video was discovered in the archives. It was shown Sunday afternoon to the Cleveland/Bradley County Historical and Genealogical Society. The first college president, Dr. D.F. Adkisson, spoke while the camera panned across the then brand-new campus.
"The area served by Cleveland State Community College is fast becoming a highly industrialized area of our state," Dr. Adkisson said on the video. His comment illustrates now the vision those community leaders had over four decades ago.
As Dr. L. Quentin Lane, then dean of students, explained the goals of the community college on camera, he detailed how to apply as a student, the associate degree programs and vocational educational opportunities. As he spoke, the camera showed what were then state-of-the-art laboratories, computers and electronics gear.
In other scenes, beloved instructors like the late historian Roy Lillard can be seen as some of those first students were recording comments about why they chose Cleveland State.
A lot has changed since that first class of 681 students in 1967, and the campus has expanded with more buildings.
Today, Cleveland State’s enrollment totals more than 3,500 credit students and 1,500 non-credit students.
The college has reached out to our business community through the years. One area where the college has quite an impact is through its Small Business Development Center, which is one branch of Tennessee Small Business Development Centers. This incorporates a network of professional business consultants with 14 centers and seven affiliate offices throughout the state of Tennessee. The TSBDC provides expert business advice to all types of businesses, whether you’re running a manufacturing, retail, service or professional business. Counseling for small business is available and several new enterprises have gotten their “jump start” from this program. It’s just one example of how the institution has reached out and filled a need in our city.
But the mission of Cleveland State Community College remains as steadfast as when it began in 1967, and that is, simply and importantly, to “add to the region's quality of life” in every way possible. And indeed it has done, and is continuing to do, just that.
Cleveland is indeed blessed with a high quality of higher educational facilities with both CSCC and with Lee University. The two complement one another in serving a broad spectrum of students on both campuses.
One needs only to drive through the Lee University campus via North Ocoee Street, Church Street or Central Avenue to see what an impact the growing school has on our community. Moving their campus into our historic district has not only enhanced their educational offerings, but also plays a big role in our downtown revitalization and urban forestry projects that have been ongoing for the past two decades.
During this time, Lee has become one of the largest Christ-centered private institutions in Tennessee, and has undergone a remarkable transformation that has included significant growth in academic programs, student enrollment, faculty expertise and diversity.
Both CSCC and Lee University are “on the move” and we are all the beneficiaries.
Again, our city offers our congratulations and well wishes to Dr. Carl Hite and a warm welcome to his successor, Dr. William Seymour.
The year 2014 is moving forward in our community’s higher education arena with tradition and great expectations.