Dr. Kirk A. Nooks, president of Metropolitan Community College’s Longview campus in Lee’s Summit, Mo., has been tapped to lead Gordon State College in Barnesville, Ga.
A champion for diversity in the academy, Nooks has held administrative posts at Georgia Highlands College, Northern Virginia Community College and Prince George’s Community College.
Prior to his career in higher education, Nooks worked as an engineering project manager at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.
“The selection of Dr. Nooks as president of Gordon State underscores the board’s commitment in providing the college with strong leadership,” said Jim Hull, chair of the Board of Regents that oversees the University System of Georgia. “His past experiences in higher education will be an asset in helping to increase Gordon State’s enrollment and provide a strong foundation for the college.”
Gordon State, which offers both associates and targeted bachelor’s degrees, has about 4,000 students. But like many institutions throughout Georgia and across the nation, the institution experienced a decline in student enrollment over the past decade. He said efforts already are underway to increase the numbers.
“We believe the capacity and excitement is there to build on that,” Nooks said in an interview with Diverse, adding that because the college offers residential living, efforts can be made to draw in students from across the region.
Nooks, who completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., said he knew Gordon State “was a great institution, but never thought that one day I would be connected to it.”
After he interviewed for the position, he said, he realized that the school’s mission and focus “all aligned with some of my skill set, competencies and strengths.”
After he begins on June 1, he said he plans to focus his attention on connecting the local and regional community to the college, strengthening the alumni base and rounding out the students’ academic experience.
“The listening tour has already started,” he said, adding that he has been in touch with college officials and will meet with alumni, faculty, staff and elected officials once he settles in on campus. “We will start framing out what the next chapter is, including work on a strategic plan.”
During his five years at MCC-Longview, Nooks has been praised for his focus on improving student services, including the creation of a one-stop shop for enrollment management. He has helped to spearhead the Missouri Innovation Campus, which allows high school students to start college early. In 2013, President Obama praised the program, which is a partnership among Metropolitian Community College, University of Central Missouri and the local school district in Lee’s Summit.
“Gordon State has so much to offer as an institution of higher learning,” said Nooks, dean of the Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership, an effort designed to prepare Black senior-level community college leaders for positions as chief executive officers. “I’m honored to be selected as president to serve Gordon State, its students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the college and to help the institution fulfill its mission.”
Jamal Eric Watson can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter @jamalericwatson