Three African Americans Who Are Taking on New Administrative Duties in Higher Education

Russell L. Smyre, Sr. is the new executive director of facilities at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina. Smyre most recently served as the director of facilities at Gaston College in Dallas, North Carolina. He served in a similar role at Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Smyre holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in human services from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education organizational leadership.

Jamilyn Penn has been named interim vice president at Highline College in Des Moines, Washington. She will oversee the college’s Student Services Division. She has been serving as the statewide director of transfer education for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Dr. Penn earned a bachelor’s degree in English and paralegal studies from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She holds a master’s degree in English from Radford University in Virginia and a doctorate in higher education leadership from Northeastern University in Boston.

Leslie Rodriguez-McClellon is the new senior vice president of student experience and operations at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was chief of staff and executive director for strategic initiatives at Southern University in Shreveport. Earlier, Dr. Rodriguez-McCllellon was president of Rochester Community and Technical College in Minnesota.

Raised in Oklahoma, Dr. Rodriguez-McClellon earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education from Langston University in Oklahoma. She holds a doctorate in adult learning and leadership from Kansas State University.


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