Trident Technical College President Receives Chief Executive Officer Award

October 2, 2009

CHARLESTON, SC – September 30, 2009 – The Association of Community College Trustees has chosen Trident Technical College President Mary Thornley as the recipient of the 2009 Southern Regional Chief Executive Officer Award. Thornley will receive the award at the ACCT Annual Community College Leadership Congress being held in San Francisco October 7-9. The ACCT Southern Region comprises the states and territories of Alabama, Arkansas, Bermuda, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virgin Islands, Virginia and West Virginia.

The CEO award recognizes the tremendous contributions made by community college chief executive officers. TTC’s Area Commission, the college’s governing body, nominated Thornley for the award.

“Dr. Thornley is a dynamic and charismatic leader with an exceptional talent for both anticipating community work force needs and harnessing the resources necessary to meet those needs,” said Jack Harrison, chair of TTC’s Area Commission. “She truly believes in the transformational power of education and is passionate about TTC’s role in making our community, our state and our nation stronger, more adaptable, and better able to face the challenges of the future. We are thrilled she is being recognized for her dedication to higher education and her support of two-year colleges nationwide.”

As the regional award recipient, Thornley will be the sole nominee from the Southern region for the prestigious Marie Y. Martin CEO Award that will be presented at the Leadership Congress Awards Gala Oct. 9. This national award is named in honor of Marie Y. Martin, whose professional career epitomizes positive influence on the community college movement at all levels. Martin formerly served as director of the Community College Unit, U.S. Office of Education, and as a chief executive in the Los Angeles Community College District.

Thornley has been president of TTC for 18 years. She started her career at the college in 1974 as an adjunct instructor. She later became a full-time instructor and moved up the ranks holding positions including program coordinator, department head and vice president for academic affairs. Since becoming president in 1991, she has overseen tremendous growth at the college in enrollment, programs and facilities. Enrollment has grown from 7,997 students in fall 1991 to almost 15,000 this fall. The number of academic program has grown from 84 to more than 150. The college’s continuing education enrollment has also grown, with more than 44,000 registrations logged last year alone. During her tenure, she has doubled the size of the college’s Main Campus in North Charleston through the purchase of land and buildings, transformed a massive warehouse into the innovative Complex for Economic Development, and overseen the renovation and expansion of the college’s Palmer Campus in downtown Charleston. She has opened a new library, bookstore and Continuing Education Center on Main Campus, Veterinary Technology Center on Berkeley Campus, and created a new instructional site in St. Paul’s Parish in Hollywood. She also expanded the college’s reach by offering courses at the Dorchester County Career and Technology Center, and she recently helped break ground on the Dorchester County QuickJobs Center where TTC will offer short-term skills-based training. She developed the Culinary Institute of Charleston, which now has sites on both Main and Palmer campuses, and she has greatly expanded dual credit courses in local high schools.

Thornley is currently serving a two-year term as president of COMBASE, a national consortium of community colleges. She also serves as a President Advisory Committee member for the Association of Community College Trustees, is vice chair of the Southern College of Optometry Board of Trustees, and serves on the University of Pittsburgh Community College Leadership Program Advisory Board. She has received numerous awards including the Meritorious Service Award from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Joseph P. Riley Award from the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the Milliken Medal of Quality Award from the S.C. Quality Forum.

The Association of Community College Trustees is a nonprofit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States.