CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Dr. Bill Seymour began work this week as the new president of Cleveland State Community College.
On Wednesday, Seymour introduced himself to faculty and staff and shared with them his priorities, including engaging students and meeting existing needs of education, the community and the workforce.
"Engaging every student is the linchpin to doing everything we need to do as an educational community," he said. "Every student matters. Every student comes with a different set of goals, and we need to assess what those are."
The school's goal is to help them achieve those goals, whether in the classroom, the financial aid office or the business office, Seymour said.
He referred to his guiding principles as "The R Factor," which includes recruitment, retention, reputation, revenue and reinforcing the mission.
The longstanding natural flow of students to community colleges has shifted in recent years, he said, requiring schools to be more active in recruitment efforts.
For students to complete their programs, the school has to retain them, Seymour said. That calls for the college to help students manage academic or personal challenges, including finances, work and family, he said.
Seymour said enhancing the school's reputation is not just a job for a public relations department, but a matter involving all the programs, services and activities that the school offers.
Community colleges need to focus on how to enhance revenues, he said, noting that student fees increasingly comprise a larger share of those revenues as state funding shrinks.
Finally, whatever the school does, it needs to reinforce its mission, Seymour said.
Affordable education and workforce development are core missions for community colleges, he said.
"Dr. Seymour is a well-rounded professional, and I believe he will do a good job representing Cleveland State and the community," Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, has said. Farlow served on the presidential search committee last fall.
The committee chose Seymour to replace Dr. Carl Hite, who resigned in December after serving as Cleveland State's president for 17 years.
Seymour, one of four finalists in a nationwide search, most recently served as vice president for institutional advancement at Jackson State Community College in Jackson, Tenn.
In a November announcement, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan referred to Seymour as an "innovative educator, accomplished administrator and effective fundraiser."
"We are fortunate to have someone with Dr. Seymour's extensive leadership experience and expertise available for this opportunity at Cleveland State," Morgan said.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.