Becoming a college president is many academic leaders’ greatest dream. The only thing that could make it better is to serve in a community that one recognizes and loves. Some leaders get to live that fantasy. One new presidential hire gets to serve back in his old stomping grounds; another is taking his leave after serving in his home state.
Also notable: An interesting trend among the latest new hires is that some have previous experience serving in either a federal or state position.
Dr. Michael P. Shannon – University of North Georgia
The Georgia Board of Regents has tapped retired U.S. Army officer, Georgia Tech’s current interim chief business officer and first-generation student Michael P. Shannon for the University of North Georgia’s top job.
A military thoroughbred, Shannon served in the army for over 20 years and subsequently advised the U.S. Department of Defense on nuclear technology. He then gained his research and teaching experience at West Point, serving in its physics and nuclear engineering department. Along with his president assignment, Shannon also serves on multiple boards, including the Georgia Tech Foundation, the Georgia Tech Athletic Association, Georgia Applied Technology Ventures Inc. and the Midtown Alliance, according to the University System of Georgia’s website.
Dr. Salvador Hector Ochoa – Texas A&M University – San Antonio
As the sole presidential finalist at Texas A&M University’s San Antonio campus, Salvador Hector Ochoa was selected as the third leader of the 24-year-old campus. “The University’s mission to improve educational outcomes and leverage the talents of historically underserved student populations mirrors my own personal and professional mission, and I am eager to join the dedicated faculty and staff of A&M-San Antonio in that important work,” Ochoa said in a formal statement.
Ochoa currently serves as the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at San Diego State University. However, SDSU President Adela de la Torre described Ochoa’s appointment as a true “homecoming” since he’s a South Texas native.
Dr. Koffi C. Akakpo – Kentucky State University
After being ordered to stop its president search for one year, Kentucky State University has finally found a new president in Koffi C. Akakpo, a veteran leader with experience across several institutions. Most recently, Akakpo led Bluegrass Community and Technical College as president and CEO. Before that, he served in three key positions at North Central State College: vice president for business, administrative, and student services, COO, and chief student services officer.
Paralleling Shannon’s federal employment experience, Akakpo’s state leadership experience includes being the department secretary and director of the Department of Natural Resources for the state of Ohio, according to Diverse.
Rodney Hanley – Northeastern State University (Oklahoma)
The Regional University System of Oklahoma Regents has selected Rodney Hanley to lead Northeastern State University starting August 1. Northeastern is a predominantly rural school, so it’s fitting Hanley previously served as president of Lake Superior State University, another rural university.
RUSO regent and president search committee chair Chris Van Denhende highlighted his commitment to work with local and regional community leaders as Hanley’s distinguishing attribute. For example, the Muskogee Phoenix noted Hanley’s extensive experience in tribal relations as one of his skill sets.
Hanley has over 35 years of leadership experience, including provost and vice president of academic affairs at Fisk University.
Kevin Satterlee – Idaho State University
An Idahoan native, Kevin Satterlee is calling his latest tenure as president of Idaho State University his last after serving 25 years in higher education—all in his home state. He served at Idaho State for five years. Before that, he worked for 17 years at Boise State University in various positions, including chief operating officer, vice president and special counsel to the president.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve this state and to serve our students. And I am beyond grateful to have been able to serve Idaho State University with our mission, a mission that resonates so deeply with me, and with a team that shows more dedication and grit than I could have ever imagined,” Satterlee said in a news release.
Carmen J. Walters – Tougaloo College (Mississippi)
June will be Carmen J. Walters’ last month at private HBCU Tougaloo College following a faculty “mass exodus,” a 40-year enrollment low of fewer than 700 students in 2021 and pressure from both students and alumni.
“There is discontentment among our ranks directly related to low student enrollment, a decrease in campus morale, horrid student living conditions, and questionable financial practices that have negatively impacted the college,” read one petition devised by a Tougaloo alumni group calling for Walters’ removal. The petition gained over 1,500 signatures.