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The Wait For a New President

By Aubrey Cox

While Vol State undergoes the transition of the death of President Orinthia T. Montague, Dr. Russ Deaton will remain as the interim president until further notice. 

President Orinthia Montague was announced dead on Sept. 22, 2023, and according to Deaton, the senior team called a meeting with him that afternoon.  

“The Tennessee Board of Regents held a special meeting on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023, to approve the search criteria for the next president of Volunteer State Community College,” the VVSC news page stated on Oct. 23. 

“I’m just an interim so I’ll be here during this time period during which they search for a new president, that process is going to take 6 months or so. It is a very open and transparent process where the job has to be publicly advertised, and candidates apply and are assets by a Chancellor and the community,” Deaton said. 

The Chancellor of the Board of Regions handed Deaton the role of the Interim of VSCC. Deaton said that even if the Chancellor had not called him to the task, he would have volunteered himself. 

The Interim President of VSCC has the full responsibilities of a permanent president. For Deaton, this would include working with the senior team, working with faculty and staff, keeping the campus running, and moving the campus in certain directions to better help students. 

Deaton, at the time, is still trying to learn about VVSC and plans or changes to help better VSCC’s transition after the death of the president.  

The goal while Deaton is in office is to increase the graduation rates from 1600 to 2000 students a year. Recruiting more students and increasing transfer rates are the other main goals that He and the senior team have been working on. 

“Any time there is a complaint and issue It should be taken outside of the department,” said Graham Carlson as students discussed topics, they want an interim president or new permanent president to pay attention to. 

“Give a Dropbox and have students give ideas of how to better Vol State for now,” said first-year student Jack Conely. 

Deaton is still working at his original job Tennessee Board of Regions (TBR), he says, “It’s challenging because the day-to-day topics are very different, its material I am used to, but the issues here at VSCC that I deal with are sometimes different from what I deal with at TBR.” 

To contact Russ Deaton for questions and suggestions, email him at  

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