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TBR announces final three candidates for Tech presidency

The Tennessee Board of Regents announced the three Tech presidential search finalists on Thursday.

The Search Advisory Committee narrowed the candidate pool to three, after completing interviews on Wednesday and Thursday. The finalists will visit Tech next week to meet with various university constituent groups, including faculty and staff, students and the community.

The meetings will take place at the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing and Health Services Building Auditorium on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Open receptions for community members, alumni and friends of the University will be scheduled at Progressive Savings Bank in Cookeville each evening. The formal times have not been announced.

The finalists are Susan Elkins, vice president of Extended Programs and Regional Development of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Tech; Philip Oldham, provost and senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; and Ralph V. Rogers, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and mechanical engineering professor at Purdue University Calumet.

Elkins has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education from Tech and her doctorate in educational leadership at Vanderbilt University. Prior to her work at Tech, she worked with career development programs for high school students in the Upper Cumberland and taught middle school mathematics in Jackson County. 

Elkins has also previously served on the boards of WCTE-TV, the Rotary Club of Cookeville and numerous other community organizations.

Oldham received his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson. He completed his doctorate in analytical chemistry at Texas A&M University. Before working at UT-C, Oldham served in various leadership roles at Mississippi State University and worked as a visiting scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

He is on the Board of Trustees at Freed-Hardeman University and serves on the External Advisory Board for Louisiana STEM Research Scholars Program.

Rogers received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ohio University and his doctorate at the University of Virginia. Prior to his tenure at Purdue University, Oldham served as the program coordinator for the University of Central Florida’s Modeling and Simulation Academic Initiative and was an associate professor in the industrial engineering and management systems department in the College of Engineering at UCF.

Oldham has also worked with NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration on modeling autonomous objects in air traffic control simulation and was a senior project engineer for the United States Navy’s Naval Electronics Engineering Center in Maryland.

The finalists were chosen from among eight first-round candidates who interviewed with the Search Advisory Committee. Nine candidates were selected from the original poll of 37, but one withdrew before the interviews were completed.

The successful candidate will replace President Bob Bell, who announced his retirement effective July 1 after leading the university for 12 years.

Members of the Search Advisory Committee will participate in the campus meetings and gather feedback from constituents. TBR Chancellor John Morgan will then take input from the committee members and make the final recommendation for the next president to the Board for approval within the next few weeks.

A detailed schedule will be posted at and once visit arrangements have been made. All campus forums will be streamed live through a link available at