Cleveland State Welcomes Dr. Bill Seymour As New President

Saturday, February 08, 2014
Dr. Bill Seymour
Dr. Bill Seymour

Dr. Bill Seymour was hired as the new president of Cleveland State Community College. Prior to accepting the position at CSCC, Dr. Seymour served as vice president for institutional advancement at Jackson State Community College in Jackson, Tn. 

Dr. Seymour said, “I really enjoyed my experience at Jackson State, and that was my first experience working for a community college and just fell in love with it. I’ve been at large universities and small, private colleges, and I really believe there is a reason why there are thousands of colleges and universities in the country because there is a right place for everybody.”

During his interview on CSCC’s campus, Dr. Seymour said he instantly felt comfortable at Cleveland State—with the faculty, staff and students and could see himself as a part of the college.  

During his first address to the whole college, Dr. Seymour challenged CSCC faculty and staff to engage every student, identify their needs and help them achieve their goals. He also introduced them to his guiding principles—something he has labeled “The R Factor,”   which includes recruitment, retention, reputation, revenue and reinforcing the schools’ mission.

He said, “I think it is always important to look at that R factor and assess our programs because to me, that helps to identify our priorities. We need to put our time and resources in those areas where essentially we have the largest R factor.”

Dr. Seymour said he is looking forward to becoming a part of the Cleveland community, as well. While living in Jackson, Dr. Seymour was very involved in his community, serving on the Symphony Board, the Cultural Arts Board, president of the Choral Society Board and sang in his church, as well as the community choir.

“I have always been very community oriented. No matter where I’ve lived, I’ve gotten involved in volunteer and leadership groups as a way of getting familiar with the area. That way, it makes no matter where I live feel like home.”

Dr. Seymour is a strong proponent of community colleges and truly believes in their mission. “I think community colleges are fulfilling a need that is essential to our society and economy. I like the idea that we provide an opportunity for everybody. Being an open door college is both a challenge and a blessing that is exciting. We can give every student an opportunity for an education and a future. Not all schools can say that.”

Cleveland State’s SACS reaccreditation is an immediate issue Seymour will be managing. “We are trying to finalize that process, which is a huge endeavor in the life of any college, and I appreciate all of the work everyone has done leading up to this. That is something we always have to be aware of and have good planning and assessment in place, so that we are always doing the best job possible to fulfill our mission.”

According to Dr. Seymour, strategic planning is not just a “buzz-word; it is a way of life.” He feels that it is important to establish the proper infrastructure before a quality planning process can be implemented. “To me, having the right infrastructure is not just about your people, offices or how you organize those things. It also has to do with how well you engrain the whole concept of planning into your organization. That flows from your mission to your strategic plan to your annual report, so it is important to develop an ethic of planning in your organization.”

The topic of strategic planning reminded Dr. Seymour of two quotes, one by Will Rogers who said, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” 

“Another quote is by the best mentor I have ever had, Dr. Gerald Gibson, the former president of Maryville College. He coined a phrase that said, ‘Routine is the enemy of progress.’ I have seen schools that just coast along and do the ‘same ol’ same ol’ as opposed to having a real focus on how to advance. The Complete College Agenda has really energized and motivated higher education in the state and particularly community colleges to rethink how we do things and really put the focus on retention and completion. You can’t move in that direction by continuing to do the same old thing.”

He also expressed a desire to get to know the educational needs throughout CSCC’s five-county service area and is looking forward to connecting with elected officials, school administrators, chambers and community organizations.

Dr. Seymour said even though he will miss Jackson, especially his friends and church, he is happy to be back in east Tennessee. “It was nice to drive over a ridge and see the mountains….I’ve always loved small cities. That has always been our preference—to be in a small city that is closer to a larger city. That way, you get the best of both worlds.”

Dr. Seymour, and his wife, Catherine, have two daughters and three grandchildren. Their daughter Jessica, and her husband, Dan, live in Maryville and have a four-month-old daughter named Gwendolyn. Their daughter, Blair, and her husband, David, have a two-year-old daughter named Magnolia, and a four-month-old son named Henry.

“So far, my impression of Cleveland State is great people and a beautiful campus. Everyone has been very warm and receptive, always there willing to help and lend support. They give a positive outlook for the future.”




Normal Park 6th Grade Students Learn About 3D Printing

Normal Park 6th grade students were captivated by Alex Cruikshank as he facilitated a brief demonstration and Q&A session on additive manufacturing through 3D printing on Wednesday. A programmer by trade, Cruikshank has quickly developed a passion and strong knowledge base about 3D printing. In the demonstration, he showed Normal Park students a variety of examples of 3D printed ... (click for more)

Local Colleges Receive National Accolades

Two Chattanooga-area colleges are receiving national recognition for excellence. Covenant College and Bryan College were ranked by U.S. News & World Reports among the top 25 Southern colleges.   In addition, Bryan College ranked as the #7 best value among all Southern colleges. U.S. News calculated value based on cost of attendance for students and quality of the education ... (click for more)

Teen, 17, Charged With Aggravated Rape In Attack On 69-Year-Old North Chattanooga Runner

A 17-year-old has been charged with aggravated rape in connection with an attack on a 69-year-old runner in North Chattanooga on Monday morning. The teen was identified by Juvenile Court officials as Diontae Smartt. Authorities said he has given a confession. Smartt has a detention hearing Thursday at 12:30. The incident happened at approximately 7:30 a.m. ... (click for more)

Berke Implements New Pay Plan For Chattanooga Fire Department

Mayor Andy Berke joined the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and leadership of the Chattanooga Fire Department to unveil the department’s new pay plan Wednesday afternoon. At a press conference at Fire Hall #1 on Main Street, Mayor Berke and IAFF Local 820 President Jack Thompson signed a memorandum of understanding which sets forth regular raises for fire ... (click for more)

Keep John Roberts, Commissioner Of Red Bank - And Response

It has been a week since the Red Bank Neighborhood Pride Association held their candidate forum at Red Bank Middle School. I was privileged to have been asked to moderate the affair. What follows is my interpretation of the current issues facing the citizens of Red Bank and, at the end, a summation of whom I feel should be elected and whom I will be voting for personally. First, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My October Garden

Hark! It is the first day of October and, as I make my monthly stroll through the garden, I find a growing numbers of leaves and acorns. Autumn leaves are beautiful while acorns are nuts, thus you will get the idea as we make our monthly awards: A PRETTY LEAF to Phil Hughes after the Minnesota Twins pitcher came within one inning of earning a $500,000 bonus this season. The deal ... (click for more)