Alisha Fox: Helping Fulfill Dream for Cleveland State

Alisha Fox: Helping Fulfill Dream for Cleveland State

Holly Vincent
Thursday, February 18, 2021 12:00 AM
Employees, Community

The following article was written and published by the Cleveland Daily Banner on Wednesday, February 17, 2021:

One of her peers described Alisha Fox as the “heart and soul” of the new Health and Science Building nearing completion on the Cleveland State Community College campus.

She describes the building program as a team effort.

“We started working on our master plan in 2015. Our goal was to renovate all of our buildings on campus, have a new building constructed and find a permanent home for our Athens Center — that was in our master plan and in our strategic plan,” said Fox, who is vice president of Finance and Operations at Cleveland State.

A native of Sequatchie County, Fox received her bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She earned a master of public administration degree from Valdosta State University and then a graduate certificate in Community College Leadership at East Tennessee State University. She is working on her doctorate of public administration with a concentration in Community College Leadership.
Her journey to Cleveland State started at the bookstore on the UTC campus. She worked her way up in different levels in the bookstore before being name bookstore manager. Her expertise took her to an off-campus bookstore.

In 2006, she was asked to take the job of general manager at Cleveland State’s bookstore. She has been at Cleveland State for the last 15 years. She said her husband, Tyler, has supported her decisions.

“I had the opportunity to take a job as CSCC director of purchasing in 2014,” she said. Then she was named director of purchasing and contracts, and later director of physical services. She was made assistant vice president of finance and is now the vice president of finance and operations.

Fox took on the role of managing the facilities part of the campus operation. Her job includes the facilities, physical plant, lawncare, custodial and all of the large capital and construction projects.
“I oversee the business office operations and finance,” she explained. “I’ve always been in a college atmosphere — being around student and education. That’s all I‘ve known — just a lot of different roles.”

Fox said, “I love it here. There is nowhere else I would rather be. I am so proud of the Cleveland State campus and people who work here. It’s a family. We do great things here and are a part of this community.”
“I began submitting proposals for capital projects and overseeing the conclusion of the projects,” she said. “That has been really fun to see a physical transformation of the campus.”

“COVID-19 has been a challenge for us this year. … Funding comes from the state, but the majority of our funds come from tuition and fees. You need a strong enrollment, good strategic budgeting and finance to run your operation successfully.

“We have had some good years since I have been in this position. Enrollment has increased in the last few years. We have done well with our performance funding from the state,” she said.

While the college has seen some declines in enrollment due to the coronavirus, “we have worked through that so we are providing the best experience for students on the campus even though we have had to put in some new protocols,” Fox said.

“Students want to be here. They want to be in-person — seeing their teachers, working hands-on with stuff and being able to adapt and adjust. It has been a challenge,” she noted.
Since the development of the strategic and master plans, “every decision we made related to one of our priorities for funding — what we were going to submit as capital outlay or maintenance from the state.

“The first to come out of the plan was funding for the Health and Science Center. We submitted that in 2017-18 and it got approval for funding,” she said.

This was the first new building to be built on the campus since 1967. The groundbreaking was held in August of 2018.

“It is ahead of schedule and under budget,” she said. “It has been a pretty smooth process and very inclusive. What I have enjoyed is being able to see it from beginning to end — the whole process with designers and architects.”
They started by meeting with the “user groups” for the building.

“This is the dream,” she said. Faculty and students were asked what was needed to make it the “best teaching and learning environment for students — state of the art for this generation of first responders and health care professionals.

“It really is a state-of-the-art building. We have EMT, paramedic, medical assisting and nursing department as well as biology and microbiology labs,” Fox said.

The medical assisting section has a lab where students will learn to draw blood, take temperatures and other skills.

One portion of the skills lab is set up like a physician’s office with a waiting area, reception, exam rooms and a functioning lab.

“We want to simulate what it is going to be like when the student goes out there to work,” she said.

The nursing simulation lab is set up like an ER with a control room where the instructor may watch via video camera.

“It is a cool state-of-the-art facility that will give our students the edge — experience that they don’t get in a regular classroom,” Fox said.

The construction was to conclude on Feb. 12 with furniture delivered and installed this week. An invitation only ribbon cutting is scheduled in the first week of March.

The first classes will start in the facility on March 15.

“We are going over every day and checking on progress,” she said.

The new building was not the only part of the strategic proposal made to the state.

“Part of the proposal was renovation of our Humanities Building. It will be finished in July,” she said.

“It is considered a major renovations. We are adding restrooms, replacement of all windows in the building, the entrance’s glass atrium will be replaced and all the LED lighting replaced. All of the classrooms will have new technology and new furniture,” Fox noted.

While there have been updates to the building over the years, “these are taking the student experience to a new level,” she said.

Fox explained the state revamped its capital outlay process the year Cleveland State submitted the Health and Science proposal.

“We were lucky that the first year under the new structure we were able to get a new project funded. When we submitted the McMinn Center — TCAT Athens the next year, we were hoping to get funding,” she said. “It got funded the next year.

“That was two years in a roll we got capital funding,” Fox said.
Since the Athens Center was a joint project with Cleveland State and TCAT, “it was on a condensed timeline because TBR (Tennessee Board of Regents) was interested in getting this joint facility up,” she said. “We kicked off construction the week after the Health and Science Building event though it was funded a year later. It just worked out.”

The McMinn Center is scheduled for completion April 1. A grand opening has not yet been scheduled; however, plans are for classes to be held there in the summer.

“We have made a lot of progress on our master plan,” Fox said. “The implementation team meets quarterly to talk about projects. I always tell them we really should be proud of what we have done.”

“Lots of people do a strategic or master plan. It is something they do because they have to. It sits on the shelf. We can see that we are doing what we said we were going to do. We will continue to prioritize things on the list and move forward. …This has been a team effort. I’ve been project manager, but it would not be possible without talking with faculty and students,” Fox said.


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