This story was updated at 6:06 p.m. with a quote from TBR member Tom Griscom.
NASHVILLE - Chattanooga State President Flora Tydings is expected to become the next chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents after a search committee led by Gov. Bill Haslam recommended her from a field of finalists.
Regents will meet in a special called session on Tuesday to consider the recommendation.
Haslam said in a news release that "after a very deliberate search, careful thought and much input from the search committee and the TBR system and campus communities, I'm pleased to recommend Dr. Flora Tydings to lead the Board of Regents as it transitions under the FOCUS Act and continues its critical work ahead in the Drive to 55 effort to equip a majority of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees, diplomas and certificates."
Tydings has been president of Chattanooga State Community College since July 2015, and was president of Athens Technical College in Athens, Ga., a campus of the public Technical College System of Georgia, from 2003 to 2015.
If the board approves, Tydings would take office in early 2017, succeeding interim Chancellor David Gregory, who is retiring after nearly 19 years with TBR and 34 years in state service.
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.
The Board of Regents will meet via a telephone conference call to consider the recommendation.
If approved, Tydings would become the first female chancellor of a Tennessee higher education system in state history.
The TBR system currently is comprised of six universities, 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.
But under legislation enacted earlier this year, the six universities, including Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, will be spun off from the system with self-governing boards.
Haslam, who pushed that effort, wants the Regents system to focus solely on two-year colleges like Chattanooga and Cleveland State as well as the Tennessee colleges of applied technology (TCATs).
That's because the two-year degree programs and shorter TCAT certificate programs are playing a major role in Haslam's Drive to 55 program which calls for 55 percent of adult Tennesseans to have some type of post-high school degree or certificate by the year 2025.
TBR member Tom Griscom, a Chattanoogan, said he was "privileged to serve on the search committee led by Gov. Haslam and to hear first hand the reputation that Tennessee has garnered as a leader in higher education reform.
"As one member of the Board of Regents, I believe the leadership Dr. Tydings has shown at Chattanooga State as well as her extensive background in Georgia put her in an excellent position to serve as the next chancellor for TBR and lead the transition of the system."