In lieu of a new season beginning at Tennessee State University, we'd like to welcome Dr. Portia Holmes Shields, former president of Albany State University in Albany, Georgia as the new interim president effective January 2, 2011.
Dr. Shields became president of Albany State University in July 1996. She served in that capacity for eight years, retiring in June 2005. As the seventh president of the 101-year-old university, Dr. Shields inherited a campus recovering from a flood that consumed nearly two-thirds of the 204-acre campus in 1994. Dr. Shields' leadership was critical to the university's comeback, as she spearheaded a $153 million rebuilding program that revitalized the institution. A master planner and builder, Dr. Shields led Albany State to the third-highest retention rate among the University System of Georgia's 34 colleges and universities, which, at 83 percent followed behind only Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. Dr. Shields successfully spearheaded a $153 million rebuilding program that culminated in an academic building that houses the academic administration, laboratories, an auditorium, and classrooms; a $7 million athletic stadium; a Physical Education Building; a new dining hall; and a state-of-the-art central energy plant. Another achievement of Dr. Shields' presidency was her success in raising funds and external support for the University. She was instrumental in securing an unprecedented $3-million donation from Georgia-born performing artist Ray Charles in 2002 and more than $25 million in external grant funding in the following academic year.
Most recently, Shields served as chief executive officer and chief academic officer of Concordia College in Selma, Ala., from November 2007 to December 2009. At Concordia, she improved academic programs and institutional effectiveness, raised campus academic standards and enhanced the college's financial operations. Shields also helped Concordia address accreditation concerns. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges initially placed Concordia on probation for issues concerning 17 different requirements and standards. In its most recent report, SACSCOC cited only two issues remaining for the college to address.
Upon announcing Dr. Shields' position with the University, John Morgan, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor said, "Dr. Shields will do an excellent job leading TSU during this transition period. This is a critical time for TSU and all of higher education. She brings several key characteristics that will benefit TSU in this interim period. She is a respected college leader, and she has demonstrated her ability to successfully guide a campus through a critical transition."
At her previous institutions, Shields developed a reputation for creating a student-centered environment and encouraging collaborative decision making, according to colleagues. Shields holds a Ph.D. in early childhood/elementary education from the University of Maryland, a Bachelor's degree in education from the District of Columbia Teachers College, and a Master of Arts degree in education from George Washington University.
"With Shields as interim president, the TBR can proceed carefully and thoughtfully to advertise and fill the TSU president's position at the appropriate time," Morgan said.