The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) appointed Cliff Wightman as the new president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology — Crossville during its fall quarterly meeting Friday in Memphis.
TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recommended Wightman for the appointment, effective Oct. 1, following more than two months of work by a search committee that reviewed 17 applications for the position. The board of regents unanimously approved the recommendation.
Wightman, who first began his association with TCAT-Crossville as a high school student dual-enrolled at the technical college, has been interim president since May 1 when former director Jerry Young was appointed president at TCAT-Morristown. Wightman had been assistant director of the college since January 2015. (The board of regents changed the title of the technical colleges’ chief executive officers from director to president at its June meeting.)
Wightman began his career at the Crossville campus and with the TBR system in 2007 as a machine tool technology instructor, following an 18-year career as a machinist and engineering technician in the private sector, including 12 years at Delbar Products Inc. in Crossville. He served as TCAT-Crossville’s marketing and industrial training coordinator from 2012 to 2015, when he was elevated to assistant director.
As assistant director, Wightman was partly responsible for day-to-day operations of the college and coordinated training in all areas of professional development for staff and faculty. He assumed full responsibility for operating the campus as interim president.
The new president said he is looking forward to leading the college.
“I have served many roles with the college — starting as a student — and these different positions have given me a sound knowledge of what it takes to run the college,” Wightman said. “I have experience ranging from the teaching aspect to the finances and building projects. I also understand our need to maintain relationships with industry and the community and to promote continuing education and partnerships with our community colleges. I firmly feel that my entire life has evolved into where I am today because of the education I received as a student here, and I can convey to area residents the need for skilled training to change their lives for the better.”
After his high school graduation, Wightman continued his studies at TCAT-Crossville and graduated from the machine tool technology program. He later earned an Associate of Applied Science in general technologies at Roane State Community College, a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies at Tennessee Technological University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Bethel University.
Wightman also attended the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology Leadership Training Academy and has been a presenter at the Tennessee Board of Regents’ New Faculty Institute. He has attended team member training at the Council on Occupational Education, the national accreditation agency for technical colleges. Wightman also serves on the National Education Team for Skills USA.
After former president Young’s move to Morristown, the board of regents appointed a 14-member search committee to assist in the search for a new president at Crossville. The committee was chaired by Regent Joey Hatch and included as members Roane State Community College President Chris Whaley; faculty, staff and students of TCAT-Crossville, and community and industrial leaders in the area.