Tracy Parkinson Promoted to Executive Vice President and Provost

Tracy Parkinson, Ph.D., provost at Mars Hill University, has been promoted to executive vice president and provost. President Tony Floyd announced the promotion, which came as the Board of Trustees authorized a new contract which will commit Parkinson to the university through the 2024-25 academic year.

Since he joined the Mars Hill administration in 2020, Parkinson’s role as provost has included serving as chief academic officer, vice president of enrollment management, and accreditation liaison. “Most campuses would have three positions for those roles,” said Floyd. “Tracy’s wealth of experience and leadership abilities have shown through during the stressful pandemic and we are excited about the future of the institution.”

Parkinson is currently participating as one of the invited members of the inaugural cohort of the year-long CAO Innovation Academy of the John Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. He has represented MHU with the Council of Independent Colleges as a panelist at its 2020 and 2021 national CAO institutes and as a presenter at the organization’s workshop for department and division chairs. He serves on the fellowship review committee and the study abroad task force of the Appalachian College Association. Additionally, he has assisted in efforts for academic, marketing, recruitment funds that have generated over $350,000.

During Parkinson’s tenure, points of emphasis for MHU have included equity in student success and inclusive pedagogy, as well as access and affordability for students. The university has undertaken an initiative to expand adoption of open educational resources, launched its Transfer Commitment financial aid program for community college graduates, and expanded its Local Lion and Tennessee Neighbor promise programs, all with the goal of making private higher education more affordable for students in the region. MHU also launched its Blackwell Scholars program for leadership and citizenship in 2021 and the full-tuition Laurel Scholars academic achievement program in 2022.

The university also established several new affiliations including with the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education, focused on guiding students in the exploration of purpose and calling; the Yes We Must Coalition of private colleges committed to serving Pell-eligible students; the National Student Exchange, a consortium for study away; and the New Leadership Academy, based in the office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Utah.

In the last two years, MHU faculty have expanded academic programs, including new majors in community and nonprofit leadership and interdisciplinary studies and added online delivery to five programs, contributing to three consecutive semesters of year over year growth in Adult and Graduate Studies. The university has updated enrollment management search and yield tactics and strategy, meeting enrollment goals despite the pandemic; and entered into several articulation and pathway agreements with area community and 4-year colleges.

“It is a true privilege to work alongside a remarkably talented leadership team and faculty and staff who are unwavering in their commitment to students and this place. Nichole and I are sincerely grateful to President Floyd and the Board for the opportunity to be at MHU.”

A native of Cleveland, Tennessee, Parkinson earned his undergraduate degree in French and Spanish at Carson-Newman College and his master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He also studied at Universidad de Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Cornell University, and the American University of Paris. He is also a 2019 graduate of the Executive Leadership Academy of the American Academic Leadership Institute.

He earned the rank of full professor of modern languages at King College in Bristol, Tennessee, where he also held numerous administrative positions, culminating as dean of the faculty and associate vice president for academic affairs. He joined Coker University in Hartsville, South Carolina, in 2011 as provost, prior to coming to Mars Hill in 2020.