New Gadsden State Leaders

Dr. Kathy Murphy speaking at Graduation

Six new leaders were named to the Gadsden State Community College Executive Cabinet in 2021. In January, Dr. Kathy Murphy took the helm as the president of Gadsden State. She joined the Gadsden State family after serving as superintendent of Hoover City Schools for five years. Her career has spanned over three decades as an educator and administrator. 

A native of Butler county, Murphy attended Troy University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1981. She received a Master of Education in 1982, a Doctor of Education in 1987 and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership in 1994, all from Auburn University at Montgomery. 

In May, Kenneth Kirkland was named dean of Health Sciences. He came to Gadsden State after serving as the director of Health Programs for the Alabama Community College System since 2019. Since 2003, he has served in many capacities in healthcare, including as a licensed practical nurse, paramedic, an EMS instructor and coordinator for the Nursing Assistant Program at Calhoun Community College. 

Kirkland earned Associate of Applied Science degrees in Nursing and Emergency Medical Services from Calhoun Community College. In 2010, he was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Jacksonville State University before earning a Master of Science in Nursing Administration from the University of Alabama. 

In July, Dr. Tera Simmons became the third new member of the Executive Cabinet after being named the executive vice president. She previously served as the assistant superintendent at Hoover City Schools under Murphy’s leadership. She has worked in public education since 1998 as a special education teacher, director of student learning, curriculum director, an assistant principal and special education teacher. 

Simmons obtained her Doctorate of Education in K-12 School Leadership and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in K-12 School Leadership from Regent University. She has also earned a Master of Education in Collaborative Education 6-12 and a Bachelor of Education in Mild Learning and Behavioral Disabilities from Auburn University at Montgomery. 

In August, Dr. Aletta Williamson was named dean of Enrollment and Retention. She came to Gadsden State from Wallace State Community College, where she was a psychology instructor. She has extensive experience in academic affairs as a faculty member and administrator of student services. 

Williamson earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama. Previously, she earned a Master of Science in General Counseling from Alabama State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development from Alabama A&M University. 

In December, Dr. Farrah Hayes was named the new dean of Academic Programs and Services. She previously served as the division chair of Languages and Humanities after serving for many years as a teacher in Etowah County Schools and Piedmont City Schools. 

Hayes earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish and a Master of Science in Education of English Language Arts from JSU. She also earned an educational specialist designation from JSU and a doctoral degree in Developmental Education Administration from Sam Houston State University.

Dr. Tera Simmons
Executive Vice President
Dr. Farrah Hayes
Dean of Academic Programs and Services
Kenneth Kirkland
Dean of Health Sciences
Dr. Aletta Williamson
Dean of Enrollment and Retention