Trump nominates former Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, ETSU President Brian Noland to serve on TVA board

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, who is running to be the GOP's 2018 candidate for governor, talks in her office in the Cordell Hull Building on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn.

East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland and former Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell were nominated Tuesday by President Trump to serve on the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors.

If approved by the U.S. Senate, Noland and Harwell will fill the two board vacancies created when the terms of two former TVA directors nominated by President Obama - Democrats Virginia Lodge and Ron Walter - officially ended on Jan. 3.

Both of the nominees earned doctoral degrees in Tennessee and have worked with TVA in their leadership roles in the state in Nashville and Johnson City.

Harwell, a 62-year-old Nashville Republican who served in the state Legislature for 20 years, is a former teacher and professor at both Lipscomb University and Middle Tennessee State University who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Tennessee in 2018 in a crowded GOP field ultimately won by Bill Lee.

Noland, a 52-year-old graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, has headed East Tennessee State University since 2012 after previously serving for six years as chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education System. Noland briefly sought to become chancellor at the the University of Tennessee in Knoxville before withdrawing his name from consideration last year. At ETSU, Noland has helped oversee what may be the largest capital improvement program in the university's history.

photo Dr. Brian Noland / Contributed photo

"It is a significant honor to have the opportunity to represent East Tennessee State University, the Appalachian Highlands and the citizens of the Tennessee Valley region as a member of the board of directors," Noland said in a statement Tuesday. "I am grateful for the support of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and would be proud to serve the Tennessee Valley Authority."

Alexander, the outgoing U.S. senator in Tennessee who backed both Noland and Harwell, praised the appointments and said he looks forward to their confirmation in the U.S. Senate.

"I have encouraged and admired Beth Harwell and her style of leadership since she began her career in public service," Alexander said in a statement. "Throughout her time in the Tennessee House of Representatives, and as Speaker of the House, Beth has worked with the TVA on several issues. She understands that TVA's mission is to continue to provide cheap, clean and reliable electricity throughout the Tennessee Valley, and I know her leadership will be a valuable asset to the TVA board."

If confirmed, Harwell will be the only woman on what is now a 7-member, all-male board overseeing TVA. TVA directors serve 5-year terms on the part-time board and oversee the nation's biggest government-owned utility and help regulate the 154 municipalities and power cooperatives that distribute TVA power across its 7-state region.

Harwell was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1988 and served as minority whip and chair of the House Commerce Committee before she was elected in 2017 as the first woman to ever serve as Tennessee's Speaker of the House.

Alexander said Noland "has helped transform Tennessee's fourth largest university" and has the expertise to serve on the part-time governing board for the federal utility.

"His experience makes him the right person to help keep TVA on a good path – to continue to provide clean, cheap, reliable electricity at the lowest possible rates for homes and businesses through the seven-state Tennessee Valley region," Alexander said.

TVA directors are each paid an annual stipend of $52,702 and the chairman is paid $58,650 a year. The TVA board as a whole meets four times a year to conduct business and directors gather for numerous committee meetings which are not open to the public.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 423-757-6340