Bennett College names local HBCU leader as new VP of academic affairs

Laura Colson to leave Johnson C. Smith University for Greensboro’s historically Black college for women.

Laura Colson, associate vice president for academic affairs at Johnson C. Smith University, has been hired as the next vice president of academic affairs at Bennett College. She begins July 1.

Colson joins Greensboro’s historically Black college for women as it undergoes a new strategic direction, which the school is calling “Blueprint for HERstory.”

“She is a great fit for Bennett College at this pivotal moment of reinvention,” says Suzanne E. Walsh, president of Bennett College. “Dr. Colson has demonstrated leadership in innovation, e-learning, expanding access for marginalized and often ignored student populations, championing faculty professional development, and focus on creating a student-centered environment.”

Bennett is still moving along the final stages of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools’ (TRACS) accreditation process after losing accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) due to financial concerns.

About taking on the new opportunity at Bennett, Colson says the first step is meeting Bennett students where they are and making sure they successfully hit their mark of academic, professional, and personal growth.

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Amid the pandemic, Colson was appointed to associate vice president at JCSU where she worked to transition the campus to online learning and then prepare for the reopening of school. She previously served as dean of the school’s Metropolitan College of Professional Studies, successfully instituting online degree programs. Since joining JCSU in 2005, she also held positions as director of adult degree programs and assistant director of student support services.

Colson completed her doctorate at Gardner-Webb University after defending her dissertation, “First generation freshman college students: Factors impacting retention for the subsequent year.” She earned a master’s degree in curriculum and supervision from UNC Charlotte and a bachelor’s degree in education from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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