Chatt State's Flora Tydings approved as first woman in Tennessee history to helm higher-ed system

Chattanooga State Community College President Flora Tydings speaks during in a signing ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, at the UTC campus in Chattanooga, Tenn. The two institutions are enacting a dual admission agreement that allows students to apply for admission simultaneously at both campuses while pursuing an associate's degree from Chattanooga State that guarantees admission to UTC upon completion.

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Board of Regents on Tuesday approved Chattanooga State President Flora Tydings as the system's new chancellor, making her the first woman in state history to head a state higher education system.

Regents unanimously confirmed the nomination of Tydings, made earlier this month by a 16-member search committee personally headed by Gov. Bill Haslam, who is the regents' chairman.

Tydings will take over on Feb. 1 from interim TBR Chancellor David Gregory, who delayed his retirement from the system after taking the system's helm temporarily following the retirement of then-Chancellor John Morgan last year.

When she does, she will become the leader of Haslam's vision of a newer, slimmer and more focused higher education system as the Tennessee Board of Regents sheds the six universities it now oversees in order to concentrate on its remaining 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.

Her annual salary is $345,000.

The community colleges' mission calls for preparing students for transfer to a university as well as for direct entry into the workforce. Tennessee colleges of applied technology, known as TCATs, are focused on workforce development and generate graduates with tech certificates in areas like auto mechanics.

Tydings' star rose quickly in Tennessee after she was named president of Chattanooga State in July 2015. She previously served from 2003 to 2015 as president of Athens Technical College in Athens, Ga., a campus of the public Technical College System of Georgia.

Officials note that prior to her appointment at Chattanooga State, Tydings had extensive experience in Georgia's public higher education system. While president of Athens Technical College, she also served as interim president for several months each at Central Georgia Technical College in Macon and Sandersville Technical College in Sandersville, Ga.

She began her career as a professional educator in the Houston County, Ga., school system in Warner Robins from 1976 to 1984. She owned and operated a gift shop for the next six years, then worked as a psychometrist at the Applied Psychology Center in Warner Robins from 1990 to 1994. She was the apprenticeship director for four Georgia public school systems from 1994 to 1996, and also was an adjunct instructor at Middle Georgia College in 1994-95.

Her career in higher education leadership began in 1996 when as director of curriculum and staff development at Macon Technical Institute. She became vice president for academic affairs at Central Georgia Technical College two years later, and served in that position until her appointment as president at Athens Technical College in 2003.

Tydings earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education, with an emphasis in behavioral science, at Georgia Southern University; her Master of Education degree at Mercer University, and her Doctor of Education degree in occupational studies at The University of Georgia.