TBR selects Dayna Smithers for Maxine Smith Fellow program

Dayna Smithers, assistant professor of mathematics at Northeast State, has been selected as a 2014 Maxine Smith Fellow by the Tennessee Board of Regents.

The prestigious program, which runs from February through September, is designed to provide professional, leadership, and career development opportunities for African-American TBR employees. Fellows observe and participate in system-wide meetings, projects, and workshops. 

Dayna Smithers
Dayna Smithers

Each fellow is assigned to a senior-level administrative mentor at the TBR system office, a TBR institution, or the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The fellow and mentor communicate on a regular basis about program activities and matters that cultivate a learning experience. Smithers’ mentor is Dr. Jim Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State Community College.

“When you think about all the applicants from the universities, community colleges, and colleges of applied technology,” said Smithers. “I feel very honored to be one of the 10 in this group.”

Smithers earned a bachelor of science degree from Auburn University in 2003 and a master’s of science degree from East Tennessee State University in 2005. She recently finished her coursework in ETSU’s Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) program and is working on her dissertation.

“Having gone through the ELPA coursework, I’ve studied about decision- and policy-making, but this opportunity will allow me to see first-hand how higher education administration works,” Smithers said. “It’s one thing to read and study about something, but to experience that environment is going to be amazing – that’s what I’m excited about.”

In addition, the program requires each fellow to complete a project – usually a research paper or report – that examines a higher education topic. Smithers and Dr. Catanzaro will meet monthly and work to decide on a meaningful research topic for her project.

Smithers is the second person to earn the honor at Northeast State. Linda Calvert, executive director of Grant Development, was a 2011 fellow.

The program honors Dr. Maxine Smith, a noted civil rights activist and education advocate from Memphis who served as a TBR regent for 12 years.

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