CSCC’S Seymour Honored with National Phi Theta Kappa Award

CSCC’S Seymour Honored with National Phi Theta Kappa Award

Holly Vincent
Saturday, February 20, 2021 12:00 AM
TBR, Community

Dr. Bill Seymour, Cleveland State’s President, was recently honored with the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction. Named in honor of Phi Theta Kappa’s longest-serving Board of Directors member and long-time president of Highline Community College in Washington, this is the most prestigious award for community college presidents.

The Shirley B. Gordon Award is given to college presidents who have shown strong support of student success on their campus by recognizing academic achievement, leadership, and service among high-achieving students at their colleges. Recipients are nominated by students on their campus and are only eligible to receive the award once over the course of their career. College presidents with a minimum of five years of service can be nominated by their PTK chapter.

“I am humbled and honored by this recognition from PTK, particularly because the nomination comes from our students,” stated Seymour. “Any recognition I might receive only comes about due to the great work of our faculty and staff who are committed to serving our students every day.”

PTK Advisor Kimberly Harrington, said, “Dr. Seymour has been a strong supporter of our Phi Theta Kappa chapter from his very first year as college president. We are thrilled that he is being recognized for his participation in many of our activities throughout the years.”

Not only was Seymour selected for this award based on his support of PTK, but also his encouragement of student success in general. Since Seymour has been at CSCC, the college has experienced a significant number of accolades including being selected as the 2019 College of the Year by the College System of Tennessee, as well as becoming the first community college in the state to be designated as an Honors College. In addition, the college has doubled its graduation rate during his tenure and has also created the Tennessee Valley Early College under his leadership. During the last five years the college has raised over $50M in capital funding and gifts for multiple campus improvements.

Lynn Tincher-Ladner, President and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, commended Seymour on his award by saying, “This year, you worked to mentor and develop student leaders in completely unfamiliar circumstances. Racial and political unrest and a global pandemic made 2020 the most challenging year in recent history—one that you have worked exceptionally hard to overcome. Your PTK students are so grateful, and it’s not just them. Your nomination provided examples of how you support success for all students—even amid a global pandemic.”

“Dr. Seymour encourages faculty to be the best so they can help students be their best,” stated Dr. Michele Wollert, PTK Advisor. “He is open to new ideas and willing to listen, particularly regarding anything that will enable student retention and academic success.”

According to Wollert, Seymour also introduced student engagement goals into the college’s performance evaluation process for both faculty and staff. This way, all employees commit to reaching out to students at the beginning of each semester.

Seymour also instituted and completed the 2020 Community First Strategic Plan that intended to expand all Cleveland State Community College campuses by the year 2020. By partnering with people and businesses in the community, Seymour showed that he was determined to broaden the opportunities that Cleveland State has to offer students in the Southeast Tennessee area. He has been instrumental in securing funding from the state for new construction of campus buildings at both Cleveland and Athens locations, as well as the gift of the Monroe County Center. The new Health and Science Center is opening next month on the main campus with the new McMinn Higher Education Center in Athens following shortly thereafter. The new buildings will include space for increased student learning, both academic and extracurricular.

Wollert continued, “Dr. Seymour truly believes in the ‘community’ aspect of the community college, and our students grow and are empowered on many levels by his close interaction with them and with the surrounding community.”

Because of this recognition, Seymour will be honored at the PTK Catalyst 2021 virtual convention on April 9, 2021. Over 10,000 virtual attendees are expected from across the nation and internationally.

Photo Caption: Cleveland State President Dr. Bill Seymour was recently honored with the Phi Theta Kappa Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction, the most prestigious award for community college presidents.


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