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New Columbus State Senior VP of Academic Affairs to succeed retiring Jack Cooley

Campus News | Monday, July 1, 2019

Following a nationwide search, Columbus State Community College has selected Dr. Kelly Simons for the position of senior vice president of academic affairs/chief academic officer. In this role, she will oversee academic programs at the College, including more than 200 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as noncredit programs for individuals and businesses.

Simons was previously the dean of liberal arts and sciences at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas. She has worked there since 2007 as an assistant vice president, adjunct faculty member, and faculty advisor before being named dean.

Simons’ appointment is effective July 1, following the retirement of Dr. Jack Cooley. Simons has been working closely with Columbus State senior administrators and has made periodic trips to Columbus to meet with faculty groups and others to ensure a smooth transition.

Dr. David Harrison, president of Columbus State, says, “Dr. Simons’ experience at San Jacinto has prepared her well for the important student success work currently in process at the College.  She has worked with faculty to produce substantial improvements in student success in a highly diverse environment, and has demonstrated important leadership in online learning in a large, multi-campus setting. She is a great addition to our team.”

Simons holds a doctor of management in community college policy and administration at the University of Maryland University College, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a bachelor of science degree in Environmental Management from the University of Maryland.

She has been working closely with Dr. Cooley, the current senior vice president of academic affairs, ahead of his June 30 retirement. Cooley arrived at Columbus State in 2007 as the dean of Arts and Sciences. In 2011, the president named him to the newly created position of senior vice president of academic affairs.

Cooley’s career in higher education is extensive, having worked at Ohio State University for four decades after earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the school. “I’ve been very lucky to work with Dr. Cooley. He is a great partner and friend.,” said Harrison. “We have seen substantial advances in student success under Jack’s leadership. He’s had a lasting impact on the college and our students.”


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