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President Search Narrowed to 5/Explore Tech 2011

The presidential search committee has selected the top five candidates for the position of president at Gadsden State Community College, formerly held by Dr. W. Darryl Harrison.    

 Among those still in contention from Gadsden State are Martha G. Lavender, assistant to the president–Gadsden State Cherokee and Division of Health Sciences; and Valerie A. Richardson, vice president for institutional advancement and student services.  Other applicants include Sylvia M. Burgess, associate vice president for academic affairs and director of adult and continuing education, Southwest Oklahoma Area Health Education Center; Phillip Charles Cleveland, interim president of Chattahoochee Valley Community College, Phenix City; and Raymond William Staats, chief academic officer, John Wood Community College, retired Air Force Officer.

 The public is invited to a reception honoring the top five on Wednesday, April 13. The reception will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Gadsden State Cafeteria, located in Inzer Hall on the Wallace Drive Campus.  On the following day, the candidates will be interviewed by the committee to select the top three who will then meet with Chancellor Freida Hill of the Department of Postsecondary Education in Montgomery. These interviews will begin at 9:00 a.m. in the Browder Hall Auditorium located on the Wallace Drive Campus.

 The State Board of Education is expected to announce the new president at the April 28 meeting, which will be held in Montgomery.


Gadsden State Community College is paving the way for the youth of Calhoun, Cherokee and Etowah Counties to be inspired and choose a career path that they will enjoy. The annual Explore Tech Program will be held on two Gadsden State campuses with more than 200 students expected to attend. 

                 Explore Tech was created to promote early enthusiasm in high school students encouraging them to think about their future occupations.  It provides an opportunity for them to gain information about technical careers by placing them into a real college classroom setting. “One of the greatest benefits of the program is the expanding of the student’s mindset about the many career options available to them,” said Marian Haynie, director of career transitions at Gadsden State.

                The program, which focuses on high school juniors and seniors, will host students from Calhoun County at the Ayers Campus March 29. Cherokee County and Etowah County students will visit the East Broad Campus April 21.  Students begin the day together with a breakfast and an introduction to Gadsden State before they visit their chosen occupational program. Several programs are involved this year including automotive manufacturing technology, cosmetology and civil engineering technology. 

Explore Tech is more in-depth than a normal campus tour, as the students spend a vast majority of their time on campus immersed in the technical program of their choice. Haynie said that students spend approximately two hours learning about the program and many instructors plan hands-on activities for them. They are also paired with a Gadsden State student currently studying in that field as a mentor. She explained that the high school students learn one-on-one as they work with a student mentor, which also grants them an opportunity to ask more detailed questions. 

Haynie said that the program allows the students to really experience what it takes to succeed in the career field. “Quite often the students confirm that the career option they have chosen is the right choice,” said Haynie. “In a few cases, the students decide that career field is not what they would like to do, which is equally advantageous.”

For more information about Explore Tech contact Marian Haynie at 256-439-6861 or

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