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Henke and Shields sworn in for new terms as SCC trustees

Ken Henke (left) is sworn in for a new term as a member of SCC’s Board of Trustees by SCC President Dr. Don Tomas on July 28 at the SCC Jackson Campus in Sylva.

As of July 1, Ken Henke and Gary Shields began serving new terms on the Board of Trustees for Southwestern Community College. The former Western North Carolina public educators will continue their board service at SCC through June 30, 2024, in their renewed terms.

Henke, a former principal and school board chairman for Jackson County, was originally appointed as a trustee in 2018 to fulfill the remainder of the late W. Paul Holt, Jr.’s unserved term. Shields, who served as principal for Franklin High School during his 37-year career with Macon County Schools, has been with the board since 2011.

Henke was appointed by the Jackson County Board of Education, and Shields was appointed by the Macon County Board of Commissioners to serve as trustees, and they were sworn in on July 28 at SCC’s Jackson Campus.

Henke began his career in Jackson County education as a teacher at Fairview Elementary in 1977, and later served as assistant principal there and as assistant principal and principal at Smoky Mountain High School before retiring in 2001.

He was elected to the Jackson County Board of Education the next year, and he served as chairman from 2004 until 2018.

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-acclaimed 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.”

Shields, a Macon County native and Vietnam War veteran, spent 37 years in education, with 29 of those years in the Macon County School System. Shields served as principal of Franklin High School for 21 years before retiring in June 2010.

After retiring, he served four years as a member of the Macon County Board of Education. Shields has been a Macon County Commissioner since 2014. 

Beginning his ninth year on SCC’s Board of Trustees, Shields is one of its longer-serving members.

“Our communities have grown due to the willingness of SCC to grow with us as new adventures in our economy have appeared,” Shields said. “SCC has been fortunate to have leaders who were not satisfied with the status quo and sought leaders within our communities to challenge the norm. Our region owes a lot to SCC, and many of our high schools have been able to deliver alternative programs to our youth at affordable costs.”

SCC President Dr. Don Tomas recognizes the significant contributions Henke and Shields have made during their Board tenure. 

“Both Mr. Henke and Mr. Shields have devoted their professional lives to education and student success, and that’s the kind of commitment and experience we’re proud to have on our Board,” said Tomas. “Now more than ever, we need individuals who are truly dedicated to our communities and our students, and I know from first-hand experience that Mr. Henke and Mr. Shields, along with all of our other trustees, faithfully support our college and the people we serve.”

For more information about SCC and the programs it offers, visit www.southwesterncc.edu, call 828.339.4000 or drop by your nearest SCC location.

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