Two finalists for Northeast president announced

Rick Wagner • Oct 10, 2018 at 4:32 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Two people, one an employee of East Tennessee State University and the other working for Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, N.C., are finalists to become the next president of Northeast State Community College.

The ETSU employee once worked at NSCC.

Bethany Flora, associate director of the Center for Community College Leadership at ETSU, and Joel Welch, vice president of  Instructional Services for Forsyth, are the finalists announced Wednesday afternoon by the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Public forums with the two, chosen by a Search Advisory Committee, are set for Wednesday, Oct. 17, and Thursday, Oct. 18. The finalists’ resumes are available for review on the Presidential/Executive Searches section of the Tennessee Board of Regents website at https://www.tbr.edu/hr/executivesearches/president-northeast-state-community-college.

Each candidate will spend time on NSCC’s main campus in Blountville in meetings and participate in open forums with faculty, staff, students and the public. Additional meetings will take place on other campus locations.

The next president will succeed Janice Gilliam, Ph.D., who retired as president in the summer of 2017. Gilliam left after a Faculty Senate and then full faculty vote of no confidence and a TBR probe of NSCC’s operations under her leadership. 

TBR Executive Vice Chancellor James King is serving as interim president. 


The advisory committee included four members of the Board of Regents; representatives of the NSCC faculty, staff, students and alumni; and representatives of the region the college serves.

Regent Tom Griscom chaired the committee. Other members were Regents Emily J. Reynolds, the board’s vice chair; Miles Burdine, president and CEO of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce; and Danni Varlan. Former Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips also served on the panel.


Flora got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, her master’s from Tusculum University and her Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She has worked in her current position since 2016 and also has been an associate professor of post-secondary and private sector leadership since 2011. She also served as assistant provost for Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, director of graduate recruitment and retention at Radford University and site facilitator of the Workforce Investment Act Grant at NSCC.

Welch earned his bachelor’s civil engineering degree at the Citadel, his master’s of civil engineering from the University of South Carolina and his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Clemson. He has held his current position at Forsyth since 2016. Before that, he held a variety of positions at Greenville Technical College including dean of business and technology, dean of the technical division, associate vice president of administration and dean of the engineering technical division.


Schedules for the forums are: Flora, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 17; and Welch, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 18. The forums will take place in the auditorium of the Regional Center for Performing Arts on NSCC’s main campus. They will also be live-streamed on the website above.

After the campus visits, TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings will gather feedback from the forums and meetings with each finalist to select one candidate for nomination to the full Board of Regents, which will appoint the next president.

The TBR approved the NSCC search criteria at its March 29 quarterly meeting and then appointed a 17-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee. The committee’s charge was to identify and interview candidates and recommend finalists.

A public forum was held at the college on Aug. 16, providing campus and community members an opportunity to express their views about the search and qualities they want in the next president. The goal is to have a new president in place by Jan. 1.


The search committee worked with executive search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates to help identify a broad range of candidates from across the country. The process resulted in more than 60 applicants nationwide.

NSCC is a comprehensive, two-year post-secondary institution located in Blountville. It serves a five-county area of Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties, and has more than 6,100 credit-seeking students and more than 500 non-credit students. In addition to the main campus in Blountville, NSCC delivers programming at campuses in Elizabethton, Gray, Johnson City and the Academic Village in Kingsport.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 100,000 students. The system is governed by the TBR.