Belle S. Wheelan

Those in higher education know the familiar acronym SACS — the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, but for Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, president of the accrediting body since 2005, it also means “Students Are Central to Success,” a fitting description for what motivates her on the job. Wheelan is the first African American and the first woman to lead SACS. In that role, the two-time community college president and civil rights activist also addresses the needs of small, private colleges striving to gain and maintain accreditation and the parity of women in higher education. Wheelan earned a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University, a master’s from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin.