Ken Henke of Sylva may be new to Southwestern Community College’s Board of Trustees, but he’s plenty familiar with the institution – and with Jackson County education in general.
A former principal and school board chairman, Henke was officially sworn in as an SCC trustee on Sept. 25 at the college’s Macon Campus.
He was appointed by the Jackson County Board of Education to fill the seat left vacant after the June 28 passing of founding trustee Paul Holt.
Henke’s term on SCC’s board runs through June 30, 2020.
“We are privileged to have Mr. Henke join our Board of Trustees,” said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC’s President. “Our college and the public schools have a rich history of working together on behalf of our students, and Mr. Henke has been a strong advocate for our partnerships over the years.”
At the same meeting, Jeremy Hyatt of Sylva was sworn in for his second term. Appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to represent the Qualla Boundary, Hyatt originally joined the board in 2014. His term runs through June 30, 2022.
Hyatt started his college career at SCC and is a 2000 graduate of Western Carolina University. He now serves as the Secretary of Operations for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
“Jeremy has been a strong advocate for SCC, and we greatly value his voice on our board,” Dr. Tomas said. “We are honored that he is willing to continue serving.”
Henke started as a teacher at Fairview Elementary in 1977 and later served as an assistant principal there and at Smoky Mountain High School before retiring in 2001 as Smoky Mountain’s principal.
He was elected to the Jackson County Board of Education the next year, and he served as chairman from 2004 until earlier this year.
During his time as principal, Henke worked with SCC to assist high school students wishing to participate in dual enrollment. While he was school board chairman, the college and public schools worked together to implement one of the first early colleges in the state.
“I have watched through the years as SCC moved from just a small, local school helping local folks to a nationally accolaimed institution helping local, national and international folks,” Henke said. “My own son (Len) began his nursing education at SCC before going on to get his Master’s in Nursing in Nashville. His experience at SCC was an extremely positive time in his life.
“Through the years, I have worked from positions outside the college to get students involved in SCC’s programs,” Henke added. “Now it seems the next logical step is to work within the inner SCC framework to do what I can to continue this great legacy of cooperation and growth.”