Policy Power Plays
- Expand federal funding to include a stronger focus on technical colleges and workforce skills programs in addition to traditional four-year institutions.
- Strengthen the workforce pipeline by improving connections between high school, college and career training.
- Equip counselors and college navigators to help underprepared students, first-generation college-goers and adult learners succeed in higher education.
Joey Hatch, a recently retired construction executive and member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, credits his career success to a journey through higher education that started forty-five years ago— at college and career night put on by his local high school. “I love telling my story of how I got involved in higher education because it was so impactful not only for me, but for my family. Now I have the opportunity to try to have an impact on other youngsters and adult learners, and tell them that’s exactly what they need in life. Community college changed the entire trajectory of my life!”
Joey walked past rows of big universities that were not a reality for him because of their hefty price tag. Growing up with modest means, college was not something he believed attainable, but upon meeting representatives from Nashville State Community College, Joey’s life changed forever. Presented with an option of a two-year degree in engineering and construction that would allow him to work and pay for school, he saw a future for himself.
“That night, for the first time in my life, I knew I was going to college,” says Joey.
It was faculty mentors who believed in Joey and worked with him to help him envision a future for himself. Dr. Wallace Wilson, then the department head of the architecture, construction and engineering program at Nashville State, had a profound impact, helping Joey to develop a belief that he could succeed in college and gain his passion for construction and architecture, where he spent his entire adult life working.
Joey later went to Auburn University on a scholarship, receiving his bachelor’s degree in building science construction. Following graduation, Joey began a successful career spanning 45 years in the construction industry where he has been involved in more than 200 projects in 20 states totaling over $7.1 billion. As a regent, he has helped drive the state’s focus on improving affordability, serving adult learners, and strengthening linkages between industry and higher education.
This first-hand knowledge of the impact an affordable education can have on a person’s life fuels Joey’s passion towards helping others realize and achieve their dreams of participating in higher education and lifelong learning. Joey is a member of the Nashville Public Education Foundation Hall of Fame and Board Chair of Nashville State Community College’s Foundation.