The new director of the Roan Scholars Leadership Program at East Tennessee State University learned plenty about leadership during 22 years in the Army.
Lt. Col. Scott Jeffress retired from the Army this month and will assume the directorship of the Roan Scholars in July. Jeffress was chairman and professor of military science at ETSU and has led the school’s Army ROTC program since 2007.
Jeffress said his time in the military taught him that leadership was mainly all about people and problem solving. And because the Roan Scholars program has a heavy focus on leadership and retaining people with that skill and developing it for the region, he thought he could be a successful director.
“That’s clearly what the Army does and what I’ve tried to do in my role there,” Jeffress said in a recent interview.
Jeffress said he really enjoyed his time at ETSU as commander of the ROTC program, so he wanted to stay in the area after retiring from the Army. The position of director of the Roan Scholars was available and he thought his experience leading soldiers and most recently ETSU’s ROTC recruits would be a good fit for the prestigious program.
The Roan Scholars program admitted its first class of students in the fall semester of 2000 and has since graduated more than 25 scholars, according to the school. Selection for the program is highly competitive, and students must be nominated by a high school principal. Candidates undergo personal interviews by panels of regional community leaders before being selected to participate.
The scholarship portion of the program includes full tuition, room and board and a book allowance. In addition, the Higher Education Division of Dell Computer Corp. provides a new laptop computer and printer to each incoming scholar. Outside the classroom, Roan Scholars participate in numerous activities with experienced leaders to broaden their horizons and enhance their leadership skills.
Students in the program have frequent trips and meetings with community leaders to develop or enhance their skills and contacts within the region.
Jeffress said there are opportunities to grow the program in number of students but also in the number of leadership opportunities, study abroad programs and internships offered to the program’s students.
“Clearly I’m joining a team that’s got a great track record, been successful ... but I think there are some opportunities for growth in the future,” Jeffress said.
Jeffress said he was pleased to be able to stay in this region with his family following his Army career.
“(I) got an opportunity to do something after the Army that I think would be neat,” Jeffress said of his new job.
In a news release, Roan Scholars founder Louis Gump praised Jeffress’ qualifications.
“Scott comes to us very highly recommended with a stellar career to date,” Gump was quoted as saying. “He has extensive experience working with young people and building leaders. We feel very fortunate to have him on our team and are confident he will continue the fabulous tradition and performance of our inaugural director, Dr. Nancy Dishner, and former director Kristina Bartlett.”