Pickell Takes Over Academic Reigns At Cleveland State

Friday, April 3, 2020

Barsha Pickell, PhD, has been named vice president of Academic Affairs at Cleveland State Community College. "Extraordinary times call for exceptional leadership. For her exceptional leadership and wisdom, Dr. Pickell is the right leader at the right time," officials said. 

“During her tenure as interim vice president, Dr. Pickell proved she has a strong ability to engage with our faculty in very positive ways,” said Dr. Bill Seymour, Cleveland State Community College president. “And her leadership during this current crisis has proven to me again that she is indeed the right person at the right time for our college.”

"Having started her academic career in 1997, Dr. Pickell knows the academic world well," officials said. "When she served as dean of Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Education at CSCC, she showed her leadership skills each day. And since being named interim vice president in August 2019, she has taken remarkable steps to keep CSCC moving in a positive direction.

"Her skill has been on full display since the COVID-19 crisis came to Cleveland. From day one, Dr. Pickell’s diligence to ensure ongoing student success made it clear that she shouldn’t be Interim Vice President any longer. So, in the midst of an unprecedented time for America and American education, Dr. Pickell went from Interim Vice President to Vice President.

"While this would ordinarily be reason to stop and celebrate, Dr. Pickell is too focused on the problems at hand to worry with patting herself on the back." 

“In academics, we plan a semester and sometimes a year in advance,” Dr. Pickell said. “It’s difficult to plan when protocols change daily and we don’t know when we can return to normal operations.” 

"Prior to this semester, Dr. Pickell did everything in her power to help students succeed in the classroom and beyond," officials said. "Now, she is doing it without the ability to plan too far in advance with certainty, all while students face more obstacles than ever.

"Some students don’t have reliable internet. The college has provided Chromebooks, laptops and webcams for students and employees, but a bad internet connection can’t be corrected by Dr. Pickell or CSCC. So, instructors are allowing students to take an “incomplete” for classes they can’t complete online. Once school is open again, the students can finish on campus.

"Others are missing clinical and field experiences. Online virtual simulations and lab offerings are in place to help students complete these requirements. 

"Still others are overwhelmed with stress. Non-traditional students with children struggle to complete classes when their children at home need the computer to do their own online classes. So, Cleveland State faculty have taken training to alleviate the stress by fostering online communities and recognizing when a student is having mental health struggles.

"All of this has come under Dr. Pickell’s leadership. And while she’s thankful to be in a position to help the college thrive in a difficult time, Pickell’s already looking to the future, where she plans to make use of what she’s learned in this trying time. 

"She plans to use what she is learning during this unprecedented time to make Cleveland State even stronger. And despite being in uncertain times, she knows the college will come back from this crisis stronger than ever, thanks to the people who give every ounce of effort they have to the college every day." 

“I’m so proud of the way our instructors have stepped up to the challenge of transitioning to distance learning,” Dr. Pickell said. “The dedicated family of outstanding faculty and staff have met each challenge with resolve and an unwavering spirit of not only getting the job done, but of getting the job done well.”

"By the looks of it, they’re just following their leader," officials said.

To learn more about the latest Coronavirus-related updates impacting Cleveland State, contact CSCC Director of Communication and Marketing Don Foley at 423.473.2341 or dfoley@clevelandstatecc.edu.

Students are currently enrolled online through the CSCC main campus in Cleveland, Tennessee, as well as CSCC’s Athens Center in Athens, Tennessee and Monroe County Center in Vonore, Tennessee.


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