With the start of a new year, Southwestern Community College embarks on a new direction of leadership.
Thom Brooks has been named Vice President for Instruction and Student Services and Scott Baker takes over Brooks’ former position as Dean of Career Technologies.
“We feel this change in leadership will spark a new enthusiasm on campus,” said SCC President Richard Collings. “Both men have played vital roles in the development of SCC and proven their commitment to advancing the college and its role of serving the educational needs of the community.”
Collings cited Brooks’ achievement in chairing the SACS compliance committee for college re-accreditation and implementing four-year college transfer agreements for all Career Technologies degree programs.
A native of Whittier, Brooks graduated from Swain County High School, received his BSBA in accounting from Western Carolina University, his master of education in business education and Ed.S. from the University of Georgia and his Ph.D in education from Capella University.
“Dr. Brooks has proven his leadership skills not only within the region, but within the state,” said Collings. “He is a graduate of North Carolina Community College System Leadership Program.”
Brooks started as an adjunct instructor of accounting at SCC in 1992. He later held the position of Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Communications at Georgia College and State University before returning to Southwestern in 1999. He then became an instructor of Office Administration before he advanced to Dean of Career Technologies.
In his new VP position Brooks said he plans to “revise and expand a strategic plan for instruction and student services. I’m also working on increasing student success through enhanced retention and support services.”
Additionally, Brooks said he has plans in the works to strengthen the quality of online learning experiences.
Currently a licensed North Carolina real estate broker, Brooks is a member of Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the State Employees Credit Union Advisory Board. In 2005, he received the Exemplary Leader Award from the Chair Academy.
Baker is a home-grown product of Southwestern. After completing his Basic Law Enforcement Training at SCC, Baker worked briefly for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
Baker has been teaching in Computer Information Technology at SCC since fall of 2004. He earned his master’s degree in Information Technology from East Carolina University
He graduated from UNC-Charlotte in 1992 with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. He also completed Air Force ROTC at UNCC and was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in 1992. He served on active duty until 1996. Additionally, he was in the Tennessee Air National Guard from 1996 until 2005.
Before joining the faculty at Southwestern, Baker also worked for both Software for Real Estate Professionals and Metrostat Technologies in Sylva.
“Southwestern is truly home to me,” said Baker. “Not only did I attend school here but I grew up just down the road in Webster. My dad, the late Bob Baker, was former Mayor of Webster.” His mother, Evelyn Baker, continues to live in the Webster community. He is married to Heather Cohen Baker and they have two sons, Alex and Aaron.
Baker said he “fully supports Dr. Brooks’ initiatives and plan to make those work in the Career Tech Division. I look forward to managing this division and working closely with faculty and staff to continue to make SCC one of the top community colleges in the nation.”