Dr. Shanna Jackson
By BROOKE WANSER
The Tennessee Board of Regents will meet next week to appoint presidents to Motlow State and Nashville State community colleges.
Dr. Shanna Jackson, currently the associate vice president and chief operating officer of Columbia State Community College’s Franklin campus, is the board’s choice for the Nashville State presidency.
The board will recommend Dr. Michael L. Torrence head up Motlow State, located in Smyrna.
Jackson has been at Columbia State since 2010, but she said her aspirations to become a community college president began in 2004.
“I was committed to Middle Tennessee and to community colleges,” she said.
Jackson received both her bachelor of science and master’s in business administration from Florida A&M University, and a doctor of education degree in administration and supervision from Tennessee State University.
After an application process that began in December, Jackson was selected as one of four finalists in January.
Her on-campus interview for the position was on February 14th, Valentine’s Day; she wore red.
“I walked out of there feeling right at home,” she said.
Jackson intends to focus on building up the three p’s that she does best: people, partnerships and programs.
“How can we better engage our students and help them to be more successful?” she asked.
Closing the equity gap for students of color and the underrepresented is of great importance to Jackson. She points to Nashville State’s designation as the most diverse community college in the state.
“I will have a greater chance to impact that change there,” she said.
Though the school may be across the county border, Nashville State serves seven counties, and has a similar market to Columbia State, with jobs popping up in information technology and healthcare.
Working with community partners to develop apprenticeship programs is one way to align students with the market.
“I think it’s important to make sure we have the right programs that fit students and the workforce,” Jackson said.
Mindy Tate, the executive director of Franklin Tomorrow, worked with Jackson during her board tenure in 2011 through 2016.
“She was a great board member who really helped us advance the organization in terms of structure and policy,” Tate said. “In her time on the board and afterwards, she has continued to serve as a mentor to me.”
Though Jackson expressed sadness at leaving her Williamson County post, she looks to the future.
“I have made some lifelong friends at my time at Columbia State,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m leaving, I just feel like I’m expanding.”
The Board of Regents will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 13 to consider Chancellor Flora W. Tydings’ recommendations.