Tennessee Tech Presidential Search


The finalists selected by the search advisory committee for the president's post at TTU visited campus and met with a variety of constituent groups April 17-19. Biographical materials are available through the following links:

  • Susan Elkins, vice president of Extended Programs and Regional Development and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Tennessee Tech University;
  • Philip Oldham, provost and senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; and
  • Ralph V. Rogers, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University Calumet.

Surveys are closed







Ms. Emily Reynolds, Chair
Senior Vice President, Government Relations
Tennessee Valley Authority
Nashville, TN   

Dr. John (Steve) Copeland, DVM
Copeland Veterinary Hospital
Cookeville, TN

Mr. Lee Gatts
Tennessee Tech University
Cookeville, TN

Mr. Julius Johnson
Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Nashville, TN

Mr. Robert P. (Bob) Thomas
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings
Nashville, TN

Dr. Corinne Darvennes
Faculty Senate
Professor of Engineering
Tennessee Tech University
Cookeville, TN

Dr. Carl Owens
Professor of Education
Tennessee Tech University
Cookeville, TN 

Dr. Jeff Roberts
President, Faculty Senate
Chair and Professor of History
Tennessee Tech University
Cookeville, TN 

Dr. Paul Semmes
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Tennessee Tech University
Cookeville, TN 

Ms. Ashley Humphrey
Treasurer, Student Government Association
Tennessee Tech University
Cookeville, TN 

Ms. Morgen Cupp
Graduate Assistant
Tennessee Tech University
Cookeville, TN 

Mr. Nathan Burton
Director of Business Services
for Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett
Nashville, TN 

Ms. Kaye Loftis
Chair of Staff Advisory Committee
Depart of Military Science
Tennessee Tech University
Cookeville, TN 

Mr. Marc Burnett
Vice President for Student Affairs
Tennessee Tech University
Cookeville, TN 

Mr. Joe Albrecht
Albrecht Consulting, Inc.
Cookeville, TN

Mrs. Jean Davis
Former Mayor of Cookeville
Cookeville, TN 

Mr. Steve Rains
Vice President, TTU Foundation
Jamestown, TN 

Mr. John Rose
President, TTU Foundation
Hickman, TN 


The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the criteria for Tennessee Technological University’s presidential search during its Sept. 23, 2011, board meeting.

The President is the chief executive officer of the University and reports to the Tennessee Board of Regents through the Chancellor. The successful candidate will be a dynamic, innovative, and energetic leader with the vision, skills and integrity required to guide this quality University to higher levels of achievement. The selection criteria include:

  • An earned doctorate from an accredited institution (preferred);
  • A distinguished record of teaching and experience in public higher education, including graduate education (preferred);
  • A minimum of five years successful campus administrative experience at a level with significant decision-making responsibilities affecting an entire campus or as head of a major academic or administrative unit in an academic environment (preferred);
  • An understanding of and commitment to the principles of academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance;
  • A demonstrated commitment to serving students, faculty and staff;
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion as core values that enhance the educational process;
  • A demonstrated commitment to affirmative action and equal opportunity;
  • A demonstrated strength in human relations, communications, planning, financial management, budgeting, and organizational skills to lead and inspire internal and external constituencies of the University;
  • An understanding of and commitment to private fundraising;
  • An understanding of and commitment to the role of Tennessee Technological University as a part of a higher education system;
  • An understanding of and commitment to successful implementation of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010, with a focus on retention and timely graduation;
  • A commitment to attracting transfer students and "non-traditional" students and promoting approaches to enhance their opportunities for success;
  • An understanding of the needs and concerns of the public and private constituencies of the University, as well as of the University community, including students, faculty and staff, alumni, and other University supporters;
  • A commitment to policies and directives of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

 Tennessee Board of Regents Presidential Search Process FAQs for Universities 

1. Who decides on the next president of a TBR university? The Chancellor of the TBR system, advised by a committee of 14 or more, including up to 6 members of the Board, recommends one candidate to the TBR Board. The Board either accepts or rejects that recommendation. 

2. What are the steps in the process?

Each search is slightly different, but this is the “typical” process: 

  • The Board of Regents approves presidential search criteria setting forth the qualifications for the job. 
  • As Chairman of the Board of Regents, the Governor appoints one board member as chairperson of the search committee and up to 5 additional board members to sit on the committee. 
  • Ads are placed in the Chronicle of Higher EducationDiverse Issues in Higher Education and HigherEdJobs.com asking for resumes from people who are interested in being considered, and relevant national associations and higher education systems are notified of the opening.
  • All nominees and applicants are sent a form requesting voluntary submission of information related to access and diversity, including race and gender.
  • The Chancellor and the Board member designated as chairperson decide on nominees to the search committee from the relevant institution’s faculty, staff, students, alumni and community constituencies. By Board policy, there must be:
    • two faculty members, one of whom is chairman of the Faculty Assembly or his or her designee;
    • two students, one of whom is president of the Student Government Association or his or her designee;
    • one alumnus;
    • one support employee;
    • one administrator;
    • one representative from the institution’s business community;
    • at least one member from the community at large; and
    • other representatives as appropriate.
  • The committee holds its first meeting to agree upon the rest of the process/schedule for the search, including interview dates with committee. 
  • Traditionally, 3-5 finalists are invited to the campus for daylong visits to meet with faculty, students, staff, alumni and community groups. 
  • The advisory committee members let the Chancellor know their views on the candidates. 
  • Members of the faculty, staff, students and community may also let the Chancellor know their views. 
  • The Chancellor reaches a decision, talks with the recommended candidate about salary and other issues, and submits one name to the Board for approval. 

3. How are people selected for the presidential advisory search committee? 

The Chancellor and the committee chair may consult a variety of local leaders, both on and off campus, to determine the off-campus constituencies that should be represented on the advisory committee. Typically, this could include members of the institution’s board and/or foundation, business leaders, alumni, minority group representatives, religious leaders and elected representatives to the state legislature. The Chancellor and committee chair also work with the institution to ensure that all on-campus constituencies are represented, including faculty, staff and students. 

4. What does the advisory committee actually do? 

The committee bears the primary responsibility for screening applicants and reviewing the qualifications and suitability of the candidates, but it serves in an advisory capacity to the Chancellor, meaning that the committee does not select the candidate to be presented to the TBR Board for approval. 

5. Are the committee meetings open to the public? 

By TBR Board policy, all meetings of presidential search committees are open to the public and press to listen to the proceedings. The public and the press are not permitted to participate in the meetings. 

6. Who pays the expenses of the search? 

The institution for which the search is conducted is responsible for all expenses. 

Most travel expenses incurred by the Chancellor and the committee members from the TBR Board during a search are paid from the TBR budget with the exception of lodging during the interview process which is typically rolled into a master bill paid by the institution. In some cases, an institution’s foundation may pay some of the expenses, if, for example, a search firm is hired to identify candidates. 3 

7. What happens after all the candidates have been interviewed? 

The committee typically does not meet again after all the interviews have been concluded. Rather, each member lets the Chancellor know his or her views, which the Chancellor takes into consideration in reaching his decision. The Chancellor also welcomes the views of any groups on or off campus who have met with the candidates. 

8. Why does the process take so long? 

The presidential search process was deliberately designed to be an inclusive one, involving as many of the groups and individuals as practical who are concerned about an institution’s next president. Whenever there are that many people involved, it is time-consuming to coordinate schedules, set up meetings, make logistical arrangements and so forth. Also there are a number of steps in the process, and committee members are not able to devote full time to their search responsibilities. An additional factor is that the candidates themselves are employed and may be located at some distance, so their schedules and other commitments must be taken into account. On average, from start to finish, a presidential search requires about six months. 

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