Texarkana College's Board of Trustees named Dr. Jason Smith as the lone finalist for college president during a special meeting Wednesday.
Following a state-mandated 21-day waiting period, the board will take a formal vote to hire Smith as ninth president of the college on Nov. 5.
Smith serves as superintendent of Pleasant Grove Independent School District and said he will tender his resignation to his board once the vote is taken.
He will begin Jan. 1, 2019, and replace President James Henry Russell, who announced his resignation in September to become executive vice president and chief financial officer for BWI Companies Inc., a wholesaler and distributor of diversified agricultural products.
During the meeting, the trustees welcomed Smith, each stating they were excited to have him as the new leader of TC.
"I'm very impressed by the way that you have engaged in the community in the short time that you've been here in Texarkana and the wonderful things you've done in Pleasant Grove," Trustee Derrick McGary said. "We look forward to you bringing your skills, your expertise, your vision here to us at Texarkana College. We are definitely glad to have you here and are looking forward to some amazing things to help us move to the next level."
During his three-year tenure at PG, Smith guided the district through a successful bond election and a state high school football championship. Previously, he served as superintendent of Melissa ISD for 11 years after serving as principal at McKinney North High School and Maypearl Middle School. He earned a Bachelor of Science, Master of Education, superintendent certification and a doctorate of education administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Smith is also co-founder of TeacherTube, LLC and served as CEO of the company from 2014-16.
Trustee Anne Farris said Smith's reputation preceded him.
"You're a fine educator and we recognize that," she said. "We wish you well and are so pleased to have you here."
Board President Kyle Davis agreed with the other trustees and said Smith was the perfect fit for the position.
"We are confident that we have got the right guy for this job to move this institution forward," he said. "We are excited about the future. Thank you for giving us the chance."
Smith said he was very humbled by the trustees' words and that he is also looking forward to working with them to achieve the college's goals.
"It is a very impressive board. They are very sharp individuals," he said. "They dearly love this institution. My hope is just to continue and carry on the passion they have for educating the students here and the community members in and around Texarkana because that is something that each of them has a passion for and I really do respect that."
For the future, he said there are many more opportunities for the college to work with businesses, schools and the community at large and that TC will be able to do so because it is so streamlined.
"I do feel that because Texarkana (College) has had to cut so many programs over the past seven years just to keep from having to close its doors, that it has created a very lean and a very agile institution that will allow TC to become the economic engine for this region," he said. "I find that very exciting and I think that with this board and the leadership team, we can come up with a strategy and plan to enact that."
Russell said that leaving the college after seven years was one of the most difficult professional decisions he's ever made and that he couldn't walk away from TC without knowing it was in great hands.
"I have so much confidence in Jason Smith," he said. "I feel like I have the best leadership team in the world at Texarkana College, the best faculty, the best students, and I have absolutely zero doubts and zero fears about handing this over to Dr. Smith. He is going to do a great job. I think Texarkana College has had a lot of successes in the last few years, but it's nothing compared to where I know it's going to go in the future with all the great people around him at TC, from the students, faculty, leadership team and this great board of trustees. You've got just the best leader I can think of coming in to take it to the next level."
Smith and his wife, Jodie, have two children, Reed, 3 and Grayson, 5.