Dr. Thomas F. Wright Selected to be the Next President of SWCC
RICHMOND – Southwest Virginia Community College has a new president. Dr. Thomas F. Wright, currently of Cleveland, TN, will become the institution’s third permanent president. His first day of work will be January 8, 2018. Wright’s selection concludes a national search that attracted 83 applicants and took six months to complete.
“Thomas Wright is an impressive higher education leader who really connects with the people and the culture of Southwest Virginia,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “His selection is the result of a competitive process that attracted a great deal of talent. We are eager to see what he accomplishes when he begins at the college next month.”
Wright has worked in higher education for more than 25 years. He currently serves as vice president for finance and advancement at Cleveland State Community College, as well as the executive director of the college’s education foundation. Wright previously served as the college’s interim vice president for academic affairs.
Prior to that, Wright worked for a decade at Appalachian State University, rising to the position of director of housing operations. He began his higher education career at Middle Tennessee State University where he served in several roles including interim assistant dean of students. He earned a doctorate from Tennessee State University, and a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University.
“Our college’s local board was impressed and delighted to see the talent that this competitive search process brought to our college,” said Peggy Lowe, chair of the Southwest Virginia Community College local board. “This wasn’t an easy decision. Each of the four finalist who came to campus had something special to offer. We are excited to work with Dr. Wright. He displays a firm grasp of the challenges and opportunities that are unique to our region, and we are eager to see what the college can do under his leadership.”
Wright will succeed Dr. Mark Estepp, who is retiring from the college’s presidency after serving in that role since 2007.
Public forums were held at SWCC November 27-30 for the finalists in the search for the new President.
Each forum included a 10-minute presentation by the candidate, with a question-and-answer session following.
The SWCC campus community and the community-at-large were invited to attend or review the presentation videos and provide survey feedback for each candidate.
Here are the key dates for the search for a new president for Southwest Virginia Community College: (as published on VCCS position page)
- Initial screening begins: October 2, 2017
- State-level interviews in Richmond: October 30th and 31st
- Interviews at the community college: Late November, Early December, 2017
- Chancellor announces new president: December, 2017
State Board Committee Certifies Four Finalists for Southwest Virginia Community College Presidency
RICHMOND – The State Board for Community Colleges has certified four finalists for the position of president at Southwest Virginia Community College. The finalists were among 83 applicants from across the nation.
The four finalists, in alphabetical order, are Dr. Jeff McCord of Church Hill, TN; Dr. Timothy R. Oxley of Bridgeport, WV; Dr. J. Michael Thomson of Highland Hills, OH; and Dr. Thomas F. Wright of Cleveland, TN.
“The Southwest Virginia Community College presidency is attracting an impressive collection of community college leaders from around the country,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “The focus our colleges place on student success, our innovative approaches to providing short-term workforce training, and our stability make us attractive to high-performing education leaders seeking their next career step.”
Dr. Jeff McCord has worked in higher education for more than five years, following nearly two decades of service in the chemical industry. McCord currently serves as vice president of economic and workforce development at Northeast State Community College in Blountville, TN, where he provides administrative leadership for the Kingsport Campus. Prior to that, he spent 16 years at Eastman Chemical Company where he began as an advanced systems analyst and worked his way up through several supervisory and management positions, including managing the company’s corporate university. McCord earned a doctorate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; a master’s degree from Kennesaw State University; and a bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Dr. Timothy R. Oxley has more than 25 years of experience in higher education. He currently works at Fairmont State University in West Virginia, where he has held several positions since first joining the institution in 2002. Oxley currently serves as the university’s vice president for student services. Prior to working in higher education, Oxley spent nearly 16 years in several state economic development organizations. His careers came together in 1999 when he became the director of sponsored programs at Concord University in Athens, WV. Oxley earned a doctorate and master’s degree from Marshall University, and a bachelor’s degree from Concord University.
Dr. J. Michael Thomson has nearly 40 years of higher education experience. He currently serve as college vice president and Eastern Campus president at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio. Thomson began his career as an assistant professor at Ouachita Baptist University. He later worked at the University of Cincinnati as a liaison with local governments. He spent 20 years at Northern Kentucky University, working several roles, culminating in the positon of department chair. Thomson has worked at Cuyahoga Community College, rising to his current position, since 2013. Thomson earned a doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Kentucky, and a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University.
Dr. Thomas F. Wright has more than 25 years of higher education experience. He currently serves as vice president for finance and advancement at Cleveland State Community College, as well as the executive director of the college’s education foundation. Wright previously served as the college’s interim vice president for academic affairs. Prior to that, Wright worked for a decade at Appalachian State University, rising to the position of director of housing operations. He began his higher education career at Middle Tennessee State University where he served in several roles including interim assistant dean of students. He earned a doctorate from Tennessee State University, and a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University.
The four finalists seek to succeed Dr. Mark Estepp, the college’s second president, who will retire at the end of this year after serving in that role since 2007. The finalists will each visit the campus of SWVCC in late November and early December to meet with faculty, staff, students and community members.
Southwest Virginia Community College, founded in 1968 and located outside Richlands, VA, is a comprehensive two-year college serving approximately 3,200 students annually from the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson (partial), Russell, and Tazewell.
About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 252,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.
VCCS MEDIA CONTACT:
Asst. Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications
In the coming months, the Virginia Community College System will conduct a national search for SWCC’s next president. A search committee will be appointed by the VCCS Chancellor and both the chair and the co-chair will be VCCS presidents. Other members will include representatives from VCCS colleges with expertise in a variety of areas, as well as three SWCC Board members. The committee’s primary responsibilities include: 1) reviewing, screening, and evaluating the credentials and application materials of potential candidates; 2) selecting candidates for interviews; 3) interviewing candidates; and 4) recommending semi-finalists for consideration.
A typical presidential search will involve the top several candidates spending time in Richmond for a formal interview and presentation and to meet with the Chancellor and his cabinet. Three or four finalists will be selected to be vetted by an independent firm and certified by the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges. The finalists then will be invited to SWCC to visit with various constituency groups prior to the selection of SWCC’s new president.
Updates and additional information, as soon as it is available, will be posted to this web page in order to keep the community informed about the process and progress of the search for the new SWCC president