Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, will be the speaker at Tusculum’s spring commencement exercises on Saturday, May 5.
Dr. Wheelan will deliver her address at both the morning ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. in the Pioneer Arena in Niswonger Commons on the Greeneville campus, and the afternoon ceremony, which will begin at 2 p.m.
Dr. Wheelan has held numerous titles over the course of her 40-year career including faculty member, chief of student services officer, campus provost, college president and Secretary of Education. She has been the first African-American and the first woman to serve in both her current role of president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the majority of the aforementioned roles.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in Texas in 1972, double majoring in psychology and sociology, her master’s degree in developmental educational psychology is from Louisiana State University. She earned her doctorate in educational administration with a focus in community college leadership from the University of Texas at Austin in 1984.
Dr. Wheelan has received numerous awards and recognition including six honorary degrees; the Distinguished Graduate Award from both Trinity University and the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. She has been named to the Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C. and received the AAUW Woman of Distinction Award in 2002.
Other awards include the Suanne Davis Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Distinguished Lecturer Award, the John E. Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s International Leadership Award, the AACC Leadership Award, the John Hope Franklin Award from Diverse Issues in Higher Education for outstanding leadership in higher education and the Educational Testing Service Terry O’Banion Prize in Education from the League for Innovation in Community Colleges.
Dr. Wheelan currently holds and has previously held membership in numerous local, state and national organizations including Rotary International; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; the American College Testing, Inc. Board of Directors; American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors; the Lumina Foundation for Education Board of Directors; the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs; the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Board of Directors; Excelencia in Education Board of Directors; National Society of Collegiate Scholars Community College Honorary Board; Next Generation Learning Challenges Advisory Panel; Project GOALS (Gaining Online Accessible Learning Through Self-Study) and the National Student Clearinghouse Board of Directors.
In addition to her array of professional achievements, Dr. Wheelan has also raised her son, Reginald. She attributes her success to hard work, endurance, tenacity and being in the right place at the right time. She acknowledges that prayer and support from family and friends make anything possible.