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SCC Finalists in President Search

May 15, 2020 by Cheri Anderson-Hucks | SCC | 2020news

2020 SCC President Candidates
Dr. Lisa J. Copprue, Dr. Cheryl Cox and Dr. Michael Mikota

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As Spartanburg Community College approaches a sixth decade of providing affordable educational access and unwavering leadership in economic development to the residents of Spartanburg, Union and Cherokee counties, the College has narrowed a search for the seventh president since its founding more than 57 years ago.

“After a nationwide presidential search, three candidates have been selected as finalist for the presidency of Spartanburg Community College,” explains Kandy Peacock, vice president and chief human resources officer with the South Carolina Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, the agency coordinating the search. “Thanks to the dedicated service of a search committee, three finalist selected from 124 applicants have been presented to the Spartanburg County Commission for Technical and Community Education for consideration."

Peacock adds that search committee members include Mr. Sonny Anderson, chairman of the Spartanburg County Commission for Technical and Community Education; Mr. E. Grantland Burns, member and 4th congressional representative, State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education; and Dr. Mary Thornley, president, Trident Technical College.

The final presidential candidates include Dr. Lisa J. Copprue of Lancaster, Texas; Dr. Cheryl Cox of Spartanburg, SC; and Dr. Michael Mikota of Sumter, SC.

“We are excited about the opportunity to name a new president who will lead SCC,” explains Mr. Anderson, chair of the Spartanburg County Commission for Technical and Community Education.” “I am appreciative to the search committee members for their tireless efforts to narrow our search for the next SCC leader, and I am confident that our transition to the next president will be seamless. We have strong leadership in place as well as dedicated faculty and staff, all who continue to focus on the College’s mission to ‘change the lives and build the futures of our students while acting as a catalyst for economic development through innovation, collaboration and excellence in educational programs and services.’ Thanks to the leadership of Pres. Henry Giles, the College is poised for a successful future.”
Information on each candidate is listed below:

Dr. Lisa Copprue has spent the last 32 years of her career advancing the mission of colleges and universities. Of this, 17 years have been in service to community college students. Approaching her work as a servant leader and committed to social justice, equity and civic engagement, she believes in access, excellent and affordable education and placement of individuals in careers that will vastly improve their lives and that of their families.

For her continued commitment in support of student access, personal growth and success, Dr. Copprue is the recipient of the 2017 HFC Student Advocacy Award; the 2016-17 MACRAO Equity in Education Award as Founder of The Women’s Institute for National and Global Success (WINGS) and; the 2013 National Society for Student Leadership and Success- contributions to students award. She has authored and managed numerous grants which have provided opportunities for the most vulnerable in the community to obtain a degree in their pursuit of generational wealth. As an Achieving the Dream College leader, she contributed to Henry Ford College’s distinction of being among the 100 institutions for graduating African American students.

Copprue has been a mentor to numerous women pursuing advancing roles in higher education and in achievement of their doctoral degrees. Along with informal mentoring roles, she has served as site supervisor for women leaders through the Chair Academy, and doctoral candidates complete their practicum through Wayne State University and Oakland University. She served as institutional representative for the American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Leadership Forum for the State of Michigan where she won the 2016 Institutional Representative of the Year.

As a supporter of economic development and community improvement she has served on community boards and volunteered for city sponsored activities which include her service as secretary on the board of directors for the Detroit Urban League, college representative for the Detroit Regional Chamber-Detroit Promise Program, the Michigan Center for Student Success, institutional coordinator at HFC (2010) and CVC (2020) for the National Census, and representative for the College in the City of Lancaster’s achievement of 2019 All America City. Through her advisory board work, she has contributed to policy, program and activity changes that have led to the improvement of curriculum alignment with workforce needs, the creation of co-op and internship programs, access and financial support of underserved students seeking retraining and credential attainment for life improvement and, changes to transfer and reverse transfer agreements in efforts to save students time and money and to acquire additional credentials.

Dr. Copprue is the vice president for student development and enrollment management at Cedar Valley College in Lancaster, Texas, one of seven Dallas County Community Colleges. She served for 10 years prior in the same role at Henry Ford College. She was director of education at Kaplan Institute now, Purdue University Global, associate provost at Marygrove College, director of student life at the University of Detroit-Mercy and a tenured member of the faculty and PTK advisor at Monroe County Community College. In addition, she has served as an adjunct faculty member teaching sociology at the undergraduate level and counseling at the graduate level at Siena Heights University.

As a staunch believer in the value of community college education both she, her husband Stephen and at their recommendation, their four children all began their educational journeys at community colleges.

Dr. Cheryl A. Cox, senior vice president of academic affairs at Spartanburg Community College, and has had over 23 years of experience in the South Carolina Technical College System with over 13 years of experience at the vice president or senior vice president level. Dr. Cox is responsible for leading SCC’s educational programs and services and ensuring the quality of academic curriculum, instruction, and student assessment while enhancing the overall learning environment. She is also responsible for enrollment management, student retention, and the strategic planning and institutional effectiveness functions of the college. Her priorities include providing student access to high quality programs and instruction, removing barriers to student success and aligning programs to meet the needs of both students and businesses. She firmly believes that education creates a foundation of a better life for individuals, and ultimately a better quality of life for a community.

Dr. Cox’s previous positions include vice president of academic affairs at the SCTCS, interim president of Williamsburg Technical College, senior manager of curriculum and instruction at the SCTCS and director of teaching and learning at Midlands Technical College. Her experiences within the technical college system give her a deep understanding and appreciation for the vital role of technical and community colleges in providing education for our citizens and supporting the economic development of our communities.

Dr. Cox earned a Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry and geology from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky and a Master’s Degree and a doctorate in geology from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC.

Dr. Michael Mikota became Central Carolina Technical College’s eighth president on July 17, 2017. Since his arrival, President Mikota has greatly enhanced the value of the college to current students, future students, and approximately 20,000 alumni who predominately live and work in the midlands of South Carolina with specific concentrations in Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee and Sumter counties. Central Carolina Technical College has been an engine for growth and development for this region that has provided an economic impact of over $1 billion during the past decade.

Under Mikota’s leadership, Central Carolina Technical College has expanded offerings, constructed new campuses, advanced new strategic initiatives, improved graduation and retention rates, optimized academic and workforce development programs, enhanced marketing and branding, dedicated investments to faculty and staff, and launched the college’s first major fundraising campaign. With the development and implementation of the new strategic plan for 2020-2025 the college is strategically positioned to greatly impact the future and improve the quality of life for thousands of South Carolinians for many years to come.

Mikota is a native of Gaffney, SC and holds a bachelor’s degree from Wofford College and a Master of Business Administration from Gardner-Webb University. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, he worked for Wachovia Bank in multiple capacities, working his way up to assistant vice president of business banking. Mikota holds a Ph.D. from Clemson University in policy studies. As a student at Clemson he served as president of the graduate student body and as a national fellow with the U.S. government serving as a key innovator in water quality trading and wetlands banking. As a staff member at Clemson, he served as a watershed policy director, an adjunct professor in the College of Engineering and Science and as a lecturer in the Master of Public Administration program.

After his tenure at Clemson University, Mikota served as an analyst and senior analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C., where he conducted numerous audits and assessed programs for the Comptroller General of the United States.

Prior to serving as president of Central Carolina Technical College, Mikota was the executive director of the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments, a regional association of county and city governments in South Carolina that include Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee and Sumter counties and the corresponding cities of Manning, Camden, Bishopville and Sumter.

With experience and expertise that range across many disciplines including political economy, economics, public policy, regulatory analysis, organizational dynamics, and environmental and natural resource policy, Mikota has been widely recognized as an author, co-author, and orator of diverse scholarly and applied topics as varied as economic impact analysis, environmental economics, financial regulation, economic development, and fiscal impact analysis. In recent years, he has focused on the nexus between higher education and the economy with a specific interest in expanding student opportunity, catalyzing academic innovation, and encouraging civic engagement and service to society.

Mikota currently serves as the chairman of the South Carolina Technical College System council of presidents, and he is a member of the South Carolina Workforce Development board, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education council of presidents, and the Shaw-Sumter Community Council. President Mikota has previously served on a variety of economic, community, and education development boards and committees, and he is also a graduate of the Shaw Air Force Base Honorary Commander Program, the Furman Diversity Leaders Institute, and Prisma Health’s Tuomey Fellows Program.

Dr. Mikota resides in Sumter, SC with his wife Camila, two daughters Cecilia and Penelope, and son Henry.

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