Dr. Cynthia T. Anthony is as much a veteran in the Alabama Community College System as anyone could be, having spent more than 30 years in various roles. And now, she’s gone from interim president to president of Lawson State Community College, the school where she first started her career.
Anthony will be the first female president of Lawson State.
Anthony started her career at Bessemer State Technical College, rising through the ranks “from financial aid, to assistant dean, to dean of students” over 15 years, before Bessemer merged with Lawson State in 2005. At Lawson State, she became executive vice president and dean of students.
In the span of approximately the last six years, Anthony served as interim president at a number of other community colleges in the state system: Enterprise State Community College, Shelton State Community College and Drake State Technical and Community College. She then took to the state-wide level in January 2019 as interim vice chancellor for student success for the system before being appointed Lawson State’s interim president in September 2020.
“As interim vice chancellor for student success, I did have a system-wide responsibility for student success and student services initiatives at all 24 of our community and technical colleges,” Anthony said in an interview with Diverse.
She now brings her storied career and experiences back to Lawson State.
“I think, having served as interim president at a number of institutions in various areas of the state – different sizes and scopes of institution – how all of those experiences have afforded me a great deal of knowledge and best practices that I can bring here to Lawson State,” Anthony said. “I can just bring those things really back home to certainly benefit Lawson State Community College.”
During her approximately six-month tenure as interim president, Anthony said her biggest accomplishment was not having to readjust much to Lawson State.
“Given that I have been a long-term employee here at the college, I was quite fortunate not to have such a huge learning curve, if you will,” Anthony said. “I’m familiar with the college, the employees, the community. And they in turn are very familiar with me.
“So, I think one of the biggest accomplishments has just been the transition. Certainly there are things that have to take place in transitioning from an interim role to a presidency role,” she said, “but I believe that my having been affiliated with Lawson has just made that transition a lot easier and no gap in service to our students, no gap in service to our community, our workforce partners.”
Her priorities include community engagement, strengthening the workforce through continued partnerships with the business and industry sectors and the student experience, she said.
There are efforts underway to also expand some of the school’s career technical education programs, she said.
“We will certainty make a priority of expanding our health professions programs here at Lawson State, certainly with campuses in Birmingham and in Bessemer,” Anthony said. “We are in the mecca of healthcare here in Alabama. So we are looking to expand the offerings in healthcare.
“We’re looking to expand facilities so that we can offer radiology and emergency medical technician, expand those services. So healthcare will be a major priority in our career programs.”
Anthony’s permanent appointment has garnered praise.
“Dr. Anthony is a very transparent person and she’s very particular in making sure that you respond to the question, you respond to the issue, you talk appropriately to what it is that’s going on,” said Dr. Bruce Crawford, vice president for instructional services at Lawson State. “She has high expectations of Lawson State. And with her leadership skills that she has acquired over the past few years, she is the best person for this institution.”
Anthony holds a bachelor of arts degree in Psychology from Talladega College; an educational specialist degree in educational leadership; a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a doctorate in educational leadership through a UAB and University of Alabama joint program.
Arrman Kyaw can be reached at email@example.com