Higher Education Innovation and Leadership Fellows
A cohort-based professional development program to cultivate the next generation of enterprise leaders through structured leadership and higher education exploration
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission offers Tennessee public higher education institutions an opportunity to cultivate the next generation of executive leaders through structured leadership and higher education explorations. The program is uniquely focused on leadership at the enterprise level, those who hold or will hold positions of responsibility for the overall institution’s performance and sustainability. The Fellows, selected competitively, will participate in a comprehensive development opportunity to broaden their understanding of institutional practices and the higher education landscape that prepares them for greater responsibility at the enterprise level.
- Facilitate leadership development through self-exploration and skill training;
- Provide foundational principles of higher education policy and practice for exposure to all aspects of the higher education enterprise;
- Inspire ideas and cultivate new ways of thinking to shape the emerging paradigm of post-secondary education institutions; and
- Cultivate state-wide networks to facilitate collaboration and inspire and propagate innovative practices.
The structure for the Tennessee Higher Education Innovation and Leadership Fellows consists of five elements:
Creation of an individual development plan (IDP) that will guide the Fellow's participation in the other four institute elements and establish goals and expected outcomes.
Each Fellow will maintain an Individualized Development Plan (IDP) to serve as a guide for specific goals as well as provide a base-line to help assess growth. As the program progresses, the IDP will evolve as the Fellow becomes familiar with new learning possibilities. The IDP is not a contract but does personalize areas the Fellow wants to develop. The IDP is based on enterprise leadership theory and evidenced-based practices for the executive level based on five Enterprise Imperatives and six Common Core Competencies. Although candidates will participate as a cohort, each will have a personalized plan for development.
An Academy to serve as the foundation for leadership education.
The Academy is the educational component designed to increase Fellow knowledge and skills essential to enterprise leadership as well as introduce Fellows to a network of resources. The Academy’s foundation is based on theory specific to enterprise leadership and evidenced-based practices for the executive level. The Academy’s foundation encompasses five Enterprise Imperatives and six Common Core Competencies associated with enterprise leadership. The Academy meets six times during the Fellows’ year and includes presentations, workshops, seminars, cohort collaboration, and campus showcases. All Fellows will complete six two-half day seminars.
Mentoring Networks to provide insights to the role the Fellow might have in the future.
Fellows will be matched with mentors specific to skills and knowledge the Fellow wants to develop. Program directors will help broker educational leaders, trustees, and community executives with relevant expertise to serve as a network of mentors. Each mentor will be asked to commit to 8-10 hours with the Fellow which could include job shadowing and informal instruction. Each Fellow may have one or many mentoring opportunities.
Executive Coaching to provide feedback and guidance on job performance.
The program provides the services of professional credentialed coaches experienced in working with higher education executives. Coaching helps an aspiring executive get valuable feedback to gain new perspectives on their current leadership as well as their progress on developing new leadership skills and mindsets. Coaching provides a safe place to think through diverse topics that are in the Fellow’s best interests.
Each Fellow will engage with two credentialed executive coaches to assess current perceptions of performance and skills and guide his or her IDP. One coaching experience provides each Fellow with the CliftonStrengths 34 Digital Package including the online assessment, the StrengthsFinder 2.0 e-book, a personalized one-hour coaching conversation, and digital support resources. The second coaching experience will provide the Fellow eight one-hour executive coaching sessions with an internationally certified executive coach with experience working with higher education enterprise leaders. These sessions typically occur one per month during the program and include the baseline assessment Tilt 365 and True Tilt Profile.
Leaders Library to provide an organized collection of specific reference materials readily available now or in the future.
Fellows will receive a wealth of electronic reading materials specifically curated for the program. Materials will match the Academy topics as well as emerging higher education trends. Following the theoretical model for the program, each Fellow will also have five textbooks specifically matched to the five Enterprise Imperatives.
The Academy is the formal educational component during which Fellows gain knowledge and skills essential to higher education’s leadership needs. The Academy’s foundation is a body of leadership theory and evidenced-based practices expressly focused at the executive level. This foundation is constructed around five Enterprise Imperatives that are the substance of the Academy’s curriculum supported by six Common Core Competencies that are the specific skills and mindsets desirable to be an exceptional leader for Tennessee higher education executives.
All Fellows will complete a program of study based on the five Enterprise Imperatives through a variety of means including six formal seminars, selected readings, and other delivery methods including cohort gatherings for discussion and review. At the end of study, each Fellow will have developed a high-quality pragmatic understanding of what is necessary to be an exceptional enterprise leader.
The Innovation and Leadership Fellows program is uniquely focused on developing talented executives who can provide exceptional leadership at the top level. Ideally, these would be people who develop an enterprise mindset, one that balances the overall campus interests aligned with their unit’s interests. The selection of activities offered through the Academy is deeply grounded in research and best practices supportive of creating not just good leaders but exceptional leaders, well-prepared for guiding the modern university. The program aspires to develop Fellows who are:
1. PURPOSE DRIVEN.
These are leaders passionate about their careers and the university they serve. They enable transformational change rather than transactional. They hold a vision of how their actions impact people’s lives and this drives their behavior, not just their job duties. In fact, they redefine their job responsibilities in terms of their purpose. John Maxwell calls this “intentional leadership,” those who seek to leave a significant difference in the lives of others.
Enterprise leaders find value in the adage, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” The University operates within an interdependent world where problems develop and are eventually resolved by groups of people working collaboratively across boundaries.
Enterprise leaders are required to be distinctively adaptive. Today’s events, threats and opportunities are coming faster and with less predictability. They are converging and interacting to create entirely unique situations where simple problem-solving is insufficient and “command-and-control” an inadequate style to produce the necessary change that enables the University to have the capacity to thrive.
Execution is about getting things done. An obvious axiom of leadership is, “If nothing gets done, leadership didn’t happen.” A high proportion of those who arrive at the top of a university may have made their mark as high-level thinkers but are not experienced in the “how” of getting things done. Execution and successful implementation are a complex set of intentional acts that begins by pursuing what needs to be done (strategic focus), following metrics that define progress (analytics), and creating accountability.
5. ACTS WITH SPEED AND CONVICTION.
The demands flooding into the executive’s suite are like a tsunami of expectations, emails, texts, social media commentaries, demands from impatient stakeholders, and changes by competitors. Speed also reflects on the perception others have of executive performance. For this program, speed is defined as “reducing time (fast pace) to value (effective execution).” By including “effective execution” in the definition, this program places high importance on quality decisions but made promptly.
The architecture for developing extraordinary leaders comes from a framework of common core competencies based on the five attributes for an exceptional leader.
The Common Core Competencies (CCC) define both the skills and attributes necessary to drive results, serve stakeholders, and build successful teams and coalitions within and outside the institution. The CCC consist of six elements; however, they are interdependent and successful executives bring all six to the task of providing exceptional performance for their university or agency.
CCC 1: LEADING SELF
These fundamental competencies are the attributes that serve as the foundation for each CCC.
- Interpersonal Skills
- Formal and Informal Communication
- Continual Learning
- Public Service Motivation
CCC 2: LEADING CHANGE
The ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the University, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this CCC is the ability to establish a University vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.
- Creativity and Innovation
- External Awareness
- Strategic Thinking
- Adversity Leadership
CCC 3: LEADING PEOPLE
The ability to lead people toward meeting the University’s vision, mission, and goals.
- Conflict Management
- Leveraging Diversity
- Developing Others
- Team Building
CCC 4: DRIVING RESULTS
The ability to meet University goals and stakeholder expectations. The goal is to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and prudent risk management.
- Stakeholder Stewardship
- Problem Solving
CCC 5: INCREASING BUSINESS ACUMEN
This core competency involves the ability to strategically manage the enterprise as well as the human, financial, and information resources.
- Business Enterprise Management
- Fiscal Management
- Human Capital Management
- Technology Management
CCC 6: BUILDING COALITIONS
The ability to build alliances to enhance the mission and vision of the University to achieve common goals. This includes engaging with internal and external stakeholders (e.g., faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, prospective students, donors, government, local organizations, community leaders, trustees)
- Climate Creation and Maintenance
- Political Savvy
Dr. Richard J. Bloomer
Dean, School of Health Studies & The Center for Wellness and Fitness
The University of Memphis
Dr. Bloomer is a Professor and Dean of the School of Health Studies at The University of Memphis, where he also directs the Cardiorespiratory/Metabolic Laboratory and the Center for Nutraceutical and Dietary Supplement Research. He maintains an active research agenda, having received external funding as principal investigator for close to 50 research projects since 2005 and having published close to 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters. He has specific expertise in the area of oxidative stress and antioxidant therapy, as well as in the use of dietary ingredients and nutraceuticals for purposes of improving cardio-metabolic health. He has served as a consultant to a variety of nutraceutical and dietary supplement companies and has been an invited guest on radio programs nationwide to discuss his research. As an administrator, he has grown research productivity considerably, through expanding/creating laboratories and hiring researchers within a focused area of investigation. Under his leadership, the School of Health Studies (SHS) was created in the summer of 2015. Since its inception, the SHS has been the fastest growing school/college on campus.
Dr. Lori Bruce
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Lori Mann Bruce serves as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Tennessee Tech University. Dr. Bruce is responsible for providing leadership and academic oversight of eight colleges and schools offering more than 40 bachelor's and more than 30 masters and doctoral degree programs. As Provost, Dr. Bruce is focused on fostering academic excellence, student success, meaningful innovation, community engagement, a supportive environment, and value creation.
Prior to joining Tennessee Tech University, Dr. Bruce served in college and university-level administration positions, as well as a Giles Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at Mississippi State University. In her 20+ years as a faculty member, Dr. Bruce taught more than 15 different engineering courses at the graduate and undergraduate level. She has served as the PI or Co-PI on extramural research grants and contracts totaling approximately $20 million from federal agencies. She successfully advised, as major professor or thesis/dissertation committee member, 75 Ph.D. and Master’s students. Her research has resulted in over 130 refereed publications. Her research in remote sensing for agricultural and environmental applications has been presented to audiences across the US and in 15 countries. Dr. Bruce is a native of Lincoln County, Tennessee.
Dr. David. L. Butler
Vice Provost for Research & Dean, College of Graduate Studies
Middle Tennessee State University
David Butler is the Vice-Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at Middle Tennessee State University since 2017. Prior to coming to Middle Tennessee Butler spent 16 years at The University of Southern Mississippi earning the rank of Full Professor and launching the Call Center Research Laboratory. Dr. Butler has a doctorate in Geography from the University of Cincinnati, a Master’s of Science in Geography from Texas A&M University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University. Butler’s research includes: contact centers, race and tourism aviation, space, technology, and disaster resilience. Dr. Butler has published over 20 articles and books, given over 50 presentations and has over $2.7 million dollars of external funding on research projects during his career. Butler has also provided congressional testimony and expert testimony on contact centers and the US airline industry as well as being interviewed by national news outlets such as CNN and NPR. For hobbies David likes to spend time with family and friends, travel, running and reading.
Ms. Kelli Chaney
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Knoxville
Kelli Chaney, President of Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Knoxville, leads with an entrepreneurial mindset and is a strong advocate for career and technical education. Her executive leadership in workforce development and community college entrepreneurship span over 15 years to include customized corporate training, K-12 partnerships, resource development, creation of an advanced manufacturing incubator, and start-up of a digital hub that supports remote career opportunities for displaced workers in Appalachia. She presented at national conferences for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) on the subject of broadband technology and innovation, and the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) for her work in rural entrepreneurship and economic development.
President Chaney is a candidate for doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. She earned a Master of Arts in Community College Leadership and a Bachelor of Business Administration at Morehead State University. President Chaney is also a proud graduate of Prestonsburg Community College.
In her spare time, she is an advocate for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and is the mother of Emily Hall and Seth Hall. Both are college students. She and her husband Bryan, reside in Powell, Tennessee.
Ms. Susanne Cox
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Morristown
Susanne Cox is Vice President of Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Morristown Tennessee. As a twenty-nine year veteran employee of the technical college, Ms. Cox understands the importance of technical education and the value of obtaining the professional training necessary for advancement in today’s job market. Years of experience in business administration and student services/financial aid within the college provide her with valuable insights into the needs of students, faculty, and staff. The value and rewards of careers in technical fields were imparted to Ms. Cox originally by her father, a skilled automotive repair technician that owned and operated a lucrative business for more than thirty years. Ms. Cox received a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Tusculum College in 2005 and recently attained a master’s degree in education from Tennessee State University with concentration in career and technical education. She served as interim President at Tennessee College of Applied Technology Morristown during leadership change and currently serves as secretary for the Tennessee Board of Regents Academic Affairs Sub-Council. Ms. Cox is a graduate of Leadership Morristown and is committed to the wide-spread growth of technical education, student success, and community and workforce development. For leisure, she enjoys spending time with family and finds great delight in every moment spent with her two young grandchildren.
Mr. Bo Drake
Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development
Chattanooga State Community College
Bo Drake became Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at Chattanooga State Community College in November 2017. Since joining the team, he spearheaded efforts to create the college’s very first college sponsored registered apprenticeship program. He’s served as an active member and later an advisor, for the Network for Southern Economic Mobility (NSEM). He studied at Harvard Business School over the summer as part of the Young American Leaders Program (YALP). Prior to, he served nearly five years as Executive Director of Corporate College for Ivy Tech Community College, in southwest Indiana.
Bo is an Ivy Tech Community College alumnus and holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in business administration, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in speech communication from Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, KY and a Masters in Human Services from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
He is originally from Columbus, Ohio, and resides in Chattanooga, TN with his wife and two sons.
Dr. Steven Gentile
Chief Fiscal Policy Officer
Tennessee Higher Education Commission
In his role as Chief Fiscal Policy Officer for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Steven Gentile directs the State’s outcomes-based funding formula, tuition and fee policies, and appropriation requests for all Tennessee higher education, including community colleges, universities, technical colleges and specialized units. Driven to increase access to and successful completion in higher education, he and his fiscal policy team research and implement policies that help make institutions more affordable and effective.
Prior to THEC, he served as Assistant Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at his alma mater, Davidson College, in N.C., where he counseled and assessed admission and financial aid applicants in a selective admission environment. He developed a passion for higher education as an undergraduate student—a passion he identified after finding himself periodically reading hard copies of the Chronicle of Higher Education in the Davidson College library. Steven received his Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership in Policy from Vanderbilt University in early 2019. In his free time, he and his partner, Solvig, are raising their three-year old daughter, Austen, and one-year old son, Soren.
Dr. Michael Hoff
AVP and Chief Planning Officer
East Tennessee State University
Michael B. Hoff, Ed.D, Associate Vice President of Planning and Decision Support, and Chief Planning Officer at East Tennessee State University. In 2016 Dr. Hoff led the development of the university’s 10-year strategic plan and currently has responsibility for Planning, Institutional Research, Institutional Effectiveness, and Resource Analysis. Dr. Hoff also has graduate faculty status and teaches in the Global Sport Leadership and Development doctoral program. Dr. Hoff is a native of Johnson City, TN and was excited at the opportunity to move back, with his wife Krissie Hoff and two sons (Hudson and Ford), in 2013 to begin working for ETSU. Prior to working at East Tennessee State University Dr. Hoff worked for Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and the University of Cincinnati where he served in various roles related to research, administration, and teaching. In 2016 Dr. Hoff was elected Vice President of the Tennessee Association of Institutional Research and served as president in 2018. Dr. Hoff obtained a BA in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Public Administration and Doctor of Education both from Northern Kentucky University.
Ms. Theresa Liedtka
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Theresa Liedtka is the Dean of Libraries at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Prior to arriving at UTC, Liedtka held academic positions of increasing responsibilities at California State University in Fullerton CA, Georgetown University in Washington DC, and Simmons College in Boston, MA. While at UTC, Liedtka oversaw the design and building of a new $52 million-dollar library which opened in 2015, increased student, faculty, and staff satisfaction with the Library from 60.5 to 97.6%, served as contract administrator for the Division of Information Technology, and implemented an affordable course materials initiative that annually saves students over $200,000 per year. Liedtka has a MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College, a MA in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University, and a BA in History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Liedtka continues to progress in her dual passions of serving others using libraries and information as her vehicle.
Ms. Connie Marshall
Interim VP Academic Affairs
Northeast State Community College
Connie Marshall currently serves as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northeast State Community College. She is committed to providing quality certificates, degrees, and careers for her students to help make a difference not only their lives, but the lives of their families as well. Having been with the college for almost 20 years, she served first by creating an allied health program from inception to accreditation and subsequently served as Dean of the Health Professions Division. Working in the Dean capacity, she provided oversight and coordination for continuing accreditation for seven allied health programs.
She is currently a doctoral candidate for a degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at East Tennessee State Community College. She completed a Master of Arts in Education as well as a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from Tusculum College.
Each season with Northeast State has been guided by her desire to create positive relationships and seek ways to encourage others.
Her leisure time is spent with her husband - a fellow educator, a son who is a senior at UTK, and son and daughter-in-law who have made her a happy Nana.
Mr. David L. Miller
Chief Financial Officer
University of Tennessee
David L. Miller became the University of Tennessee Chief Financial Officer in January 2017. He is responsible for statewide financial operations, strategies, metrics, and control systems designed to preserve University assets and report accurate financial results. He assists the President in management of the University system and other duties prescribed by the Board of Trustees. The Office of the CFO includes the treasurer, controller, financial administration, investments, and information technology.
Miller worked in the University of Wisconsin System for 20 years. There he served as the senior vice president for administration and fiscal affair; AVP for capital planning & budget, and AVP for state relations. Miller began his career in Washington, DC in law, government and teaching.
A native of east Tennessee, Miller graduated from East Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1984 and also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Miller has served on the board of numerous international, state, and local organizations. In addition, he has maintained guest lecturing in business, education, and government classes.
Ms. Laura Monks
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Shelbyville
Laura Monks was named the sixth President of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Shelbyville on November 1, 2017 and the first women to hold this position at the institution. Prior to her position at TCAT Shelbyville, she served in various leadership roles at Motlow State Community College. An advocate for student success and workforce development, Ms. Monks has served students and communities for twenty-five years. Ms. Monks holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree in Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Memphis Lambuth Campus. Ms. Monks is a TN Promise mentor and is a member of the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, the Shelbyville-Bedford County Workforce Development Committee, the Franklin County Manufacturers Roundtable, and the Marshall County Advanced Manufacturing Council. Laura and her husband, Terry, live on their family farm in Fayetteville, TN where they raise beef cattle.
Ms. Linda Coleman Spears
Associate Vice President for Human Resources/CHRO
Tennessee State University
Linda Spears is the Associate Vice President for Human Resources/CHRO at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN where she began her higher education career in 2001 and fulfilled a life-long goal to work in that industry. Her areas of responsibility include all phases of people management and development. She is an operational improvement advocate who has developed a management leadership training program, introduced an electronic personnel action system and developed many highly effective workflow processes. She is very successful in collaborating with all areas of the university because of her spirit of inclusion.
A Southern Methodist University alumna, Spears received her B.A. in Social Sciences. While building an illustrious HR career in healthcare in Texas, Spears also earned an M.S. in Counseling at Texas A&M University-CC. In August of 1999, she moved to Edinburg, TX to serve on an executive leadership team to transform/reorganize a local mental health center to make it profitable.
Spears is passionate about people and bringing out the best in them. She has served in leadership positions on the boards of various organizations. She is a graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi-Class II and Leadership Edinburg-Class XII. She is a 2005 graduate of the TBR Maxine Smith Fellows Program.
Spears is the consummate HR professional who has obtained certifications as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and the SHRM-CP (Certified Professional). She holds human resources professional memberships in CUPA-HR and SHRM.
Spears and her husband Marvin, a retired school administrator, are the proud parents of two adult sons and four grandchildren. Although she is a native of Corpus Christi, TX, she now calls Nashville her home.
Dr. Jacqueline Taylor
Associate Vice President, Retention & Student Success
Southwest Tennessee Community College
With over 25 years of administration and teaching experience in higher education, Dr. Taylor currently serves as Associate Vice President of Retention & Student Success at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Her areas of responsibility include Professional Academic Advising, Veterans Affairs, Academic Support, Career Services, Student Development, Counseling, Social Services, Student Disability Services, Testing Services, and Grant Writing/Development/Management to support student success. Dr. Taylor earned the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration from Union University, Jackson, TN. As AVP and member of the President’s Cabinet and Student Success Council, Dr. Taylor embraces the responsibility to effectively lead the Retention and Student Success and Equity & Inclusion strategic initiatives of the College, which are designed to close academic achievement gaps for a very diverse and promising student population at Southwest. She has presented nationally at the Achieving the Dream (ATD) Conference and National Kickoff for new ATD colleges and her research interests focus on holistic college student success, retention, career and calling, and sense of belonging/purpose. Dr. Taylor is truly passionate about leveling the playing field for and transforming the lives of students and genuinely welcomes every opportunity to do so.
Ms. Dannelle Whiteside, Esq.
Vice President of Legal Affairs
Austin Peay State University
Dannelle Walker Whiteside currently serves as Vice President for Legal Affairs for Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN where she leads the APSU Office of Legal Affairs and serves as secretary for the University’s Board of Trustees. She has worked extensively in the areas of education law and policy and has dedicated her career to promoting equal access to education.
Ms. Whiteside previously served as General Attorney for the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, in Philadelphia, PA where she reviewed, evaluated, and resolved complex and sensitive cases ranging from sexual violence to disability discrimination, in both the elementary and postsecondary contexts. She has also previously served as General Counsel for the Tennessee State Board of Education and District Policy Advisor for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.
Ms. Whiteside has previously been named one of the Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40 by the National Bar Association and won the Nashville Emerging Leader Award in Education given by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville.
Ms. Whiteside loves spending her free time with her husband Sean and their new baby boy, Donovan.
Inspiring Change in an Uncertain Future is a collection of original papers representing the observations and insight of the 2020 Fellows Class. The Tennessee Higher Education Innovation and Leadership Fellows focuses not only on the execution of pragmatic leadership, but also tackling troubling problems facing enterprise leaders. Often referenced in the literature as wicked problems, the issues addressed are “big picture,” spanning organizations and social contexts that may aggravate competing results and create disagreement among stakeholders. We hope our readers will find within a range of thoughtful ideas for advancing the quality and relevance of Tennessee public higher education.