Susan Elkins brings passion and a wealth of experience in meeting the higher education needs of a state to her new role as chancellor of South Carolina Palmetto College at the University of South Carolina.
Elkins, who earned her doctoral degree in education leadership and higher education administration from Vanderbilt University, has led Tennessee Technological University's educational outreach and service efforts for 20 years, first as director of Extended Education beginning in 1992 and then as founding dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Extended Education in 2002 before being named vice president in 2006. She will start Feb. 18.
"I've spent my entire higher education career focusing passionately on student access and success, so I was immediately attracted to the new innovative, cost effective model of Palmetto College," Elkins said. "I am looking forward to meeting the wonderful people of South Carolina -- all across the state -- and to sharing the great new educational opportunities available to them through Palmetto College."
Elkins said it was commitment and leadership by university, community and state leaders to making higher education more accessible and affordable for South Carolinians that attracted her to the S.C. Palmetto College chancellor position.
"South Carolina Palmetto College is poised to expand access to higher education throughout the state and serve as a model for delivering high-quality, online education," said USC President Harris Pastides. "We are excited to find a chancellor who shares USC's vision of improving access to affordable education and meeting the needs of a growing workforce in an increasingly complex economy."
S.C. Palmetto College provides an affordable and convenient way for South Carolinians to complete a bachelor's degree online. It brings together resources of the entire USC system so that students who have earned at least 60 hours of college course work can earn their degrees without having to leave their jobs, families or communities and relocate to a USC campus.
Students will take courses in a convenient and flexible online format while having the advantage of the university's extensive support system. The college will comprise USC's four two-year campuses and the online component that will offer baccalaureate degrees from the system's four-year campuses in several fields including business, criminal justice, education and nursing. S.C. Palmetto College launches in fall 2013.
Elkins said it is critical for the educational pathways to meet South Carolina's need for an educated workforce prepared for 21stcentury jobs and opportunities.
"Online degree programs are very effective in increasing access to education, especially for students who are 'struggling to juggle' work, family and other responsibilities. The convenience of online delivery anytime, anyplace gives many more students access to high quality educational opportunities," Elkins said. "Palmetto College's innovative approach combines the best of all worlds -- regional and senior campuses physically located across the state, coupled with high quality, accredited, convenient online degrees."
"Ultimately, it's all about student success -- one student at a time -- leading to higher education levels and economic prosperity for students and the state and leading to a better quality of life for all citizens. I look forward to helping 'make dreams come true' for South Carolinians," she said.
After earning a bachelor's degree in elementary education, Elkins was a middle school teacher for 10 years in Tennessee before serving as the director of educational programs for the Career Development Center in Cookeville, Tenn. She joined the executive team of Tennessee Tech in 1990 as its interim director of continuing education, at which time she earned her master's degree in education from the university.
Elkins is the immediate past chair of the Association of Continuing Higher Education South Region that includes 10 Southern states, a position that also involved serving on the board of directors for the Association of Continuing Higher Education International. She is past president of the Tennessee Alliance of Continuing Higher Education and was awarded the organization's highest awards for leadership and service.
She is a native of Gainesboro, Tenn., where she lives with her husband. They have one adult son and daughter-in-law, who live in Blacksburg, Va.