Smith, the fourth president of Columbia State, returned to her native Tennessee following a distinguished career which has taken her to North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Kentucky, and Arkansas.
Dr. Smith grew up in Houston County, near Erin, Tennessee. She attended Austin Peay State University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree with a major in health and physical education and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. Following Austin Peay, she earned a Doctorate in higher education from George Peabody College for Teachers, Vanderbilt University. She has participated in post-graduate studies at North Carolina State University, Indiana University, Mississippi State University and Harvard.
Prior to Columbia State, Dr. Smith was President of Rich Mountain Community College in Mena, Arkansas. Throughout her career, she has held academic administrative positions at Hopkinsville Community College in Hopkinsville, Kentucky; Dyersburg State Community College, Dyersburg, Tennessee; and Isothermal Community College, Spindale, North Carolina. She has been honored by many for her leadership in community colleges including the Governor of Arkansas and the Kentucky Legislature. Under her leadership, Columbia State has received many recognitions and honors. They include: named an ASPEN Top 150 Community College; recipient of the Community College of Appalachia Innovation Award; designated an AACC Diversity Finalist; recipient of the Workforce Innovation Award from the Council on Workforce Innovation; and chosen as a Bellwether Finalist.
Dr. Smith is very active in the communities that Columbia State serves – she has presented at area, state and national conferences; clubs; organizations and events. She currently serves on the following Boards: Maury County Industrial Development Board, South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance, Maury Alliance, the United Way, the Tennessee Economic Council for Women, Williamson County Chamber and Executive Committee, and the Family Support Board for the Southern Region. Nationally she serves on the board of Higher Education Research and Development Institute and the board of COMBASE (a national organization emphasizing Community Based Education).
Previous service includes Maury Alliance Executive Council and Chamber Council Chair, Maury Advisory Board to First Farmers Bank, Maury County Leadership Alumni Association, Nashville Symphony Advisory Council, Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the American Association of Community College Commission on Workforce. Smith is a graduate of Leadership Maury and Leadership Middle Tennessee. In addition, Smith has served as President of the Tennessee College Association.
She is married to James (Jim) W. Fowler, who is a retired community college Librarian. They reside in Columbia, Tennessee with their daughter Alexandra Hiles. Dr. Smith enjoys gardening, art, and muscle cars.
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