Thomas, Wilson among candidates for SAU Tech Chancellor's position

CAMDEN - A former longtime member of the Southern Arkansas University staff in Magnolia and a veteran administrator on the Camden campus are among the finalists for the SAU-Tech Chancellor's position.

The SAU Board of Trustees will meet at 1 p.m. today, but there have been no indications that a new leader for the Camden campus will be selected.

Dr. Jerry Thomas, currently serving as Vice President for Academic Affairs at National Park College in Hot Springs, has worked in higher education for 29 years and is a U.S. Army veteran.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in History with a minor in mathematics and a Master of Education in Agency Counseling from (SAU) in Magnolia; a Master of Arts in History from Louisiana Tech; and a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce.

He has two decades of experience in educational leadership, academic advising, and student development programming. At SAU where his career began, he gained experience as a Coordinator of Tutoring Programs, admissions and recruitment, and directed the TRIO Upward Bound Programs.

Before National Park, he served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, New Jersey. He and his wife, Dr. Carlotta Wells-Thomas, have six children.

A second candidate is Dr. Valerie Wilson, Vice Chancellor for Academics and Planning at SAU Tech in Camden.

Dr. Wilson has been employed at SAU Tech since 1994. She was hired as an administrative assistant to the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs. She is currently the Vice-Chancellor for Academics & Planning at the college. Before coming to SAU Tech, Dr. Wilson was employed at General Dynamics/Hughes for 12 years. She earned her A.S. in Business Administration from SAU Tech (1988), a B.S. in Industrial Technology from Southern Illinois University (1989) while employed at General Dynamics/ Hughes and an M.B.A. from Henderson State University (2001) and Ed.D. from Capella University (2015) since she has been employed at SAU Tech.

Dr. Wilson is the first African-American female Vice Chancellor at SAU Tech and the first African-American female to hold two vice-chancellor positions while employed at the college.

She is a member of Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church, member of the Arkansas Council for Women in Higher Education, past president of the SAU Tech chapter of the Arkansas Association of Women in Two-Year Colleges, and past secretary and past president of the Arkansas Distance Learning Association

The two other finalists for the job are Keith McClanahan, Dr. Billy Adams and Don Simpson.

McClanahan is the current VP of Instruction and Chief Academic Officer at Arkansas Northeastern College. He has held this position since July 2015. Before that, they were the Provost and Executive Vice President of Learning at Ozarka College from August of 1995 to July of 2019. Keith also served as a Director Advanced Technology & Allied Health at Arkansas State University-Beebe from December 1971 to September 1993.

Dr. Adams currently serves Panola College as Vice President of Instruction and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission On Colleges Accreditation Liaison.

He earned a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX; a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Regis University in Denver, CO; and an Associate of Arts in General Studies from Cisco Junior College in Cisco, TX.

Simpson is an ASCP certified Cytologist who has served in higher education administration for more than two decades and has directed funded research across multiple health sciences disciplines.

He is the past president of the American Society for Cytotechnology; the Cytotechnology Programs Review Committee; the Breast-Care Quality Management Committee of the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program; and a volunteer laboratory inspector for the College of American Pathologists.

Simpson is with the University of Louisiana Monroe as a Professor of Medical Laboratory Sciences in the College of Health Sciences.

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