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Dr. Belle Wheelan

President , Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Dr. Wheelan currently serves as President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and is the first African American and the first woman to serve in this capacity.  Her career spans over 40 years and includes the roles of faculty member, chief student services officer, campus provost, college president and the Secretary of Education for the state of Virginia.  In several of those roles, she was also the first African American and/or woman to serve in those capacities.

Dr. Wheelan has keen insight into all levels of education. She is an eloquent proponent of the need for quality education, particularly for people of color. She effectively communicates that need in her own inimitable way to powerful entities throughout the country, yet never forgetting her San Antonio, Texas roots. A former member of the Virginia Governor’s Cabinet, Dr. Wheelan provided guidance to all state public schools (P-12) and other educational institutions.  She now presides over the accrediting agency for educational institutions in Texas, as well as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Latin America, making her one of the most powerful women in American education.

She has received numerous awards and recognition including six honorary degrees; the Distinguished Graduate Award from Trinity University and from the University of Texas at Austin; Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, DC; the AAUW Woman of Distinction Award; the Suanne Davis Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Distinguished Lecturer Award; the John E. Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s International Leadership Award; the AACC Leadership Award; the John Hope Franklin Award from Diverse Issues in Higher Education for outstanding leadership in higher education; and the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Terry O’Banion Prize in Education from the League for Innovation in Community Colleges.

Dr. Wheelan received her bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in Texas, her master’s from Louisiana State University, and her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in Educational Administration with a special concentration in community college leadership. 

She holds and has held membership in numerous local, state and national organizations including Rotary International; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; the American College Testing Board of Directors; American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors; the Lumina Foundation for Education Board of Directors; the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs; the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Board of Directors; Excelencia in Education Board of Directors; National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Community College Honorary Board; Next Generation Learning Challenges Advisory Panel; Project GOALS (Gaining Online Accessible Learning Through Self-Study); and the National Student Clearinghouse Board of Directors.
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