Meet the President
Helping students succeed is not just the mission of Nashville State -- it is President Shanna L. Jackson’s passion. In fact, it was her connection with students while teaching part-time that led her from a career in manufacturing to leadership in higher education.
Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, Dr. Jackson had big dreams of making her mark in the business world, and she always knew that college would be part of that journey. Both of her parents were college graduates, but her father was the first in a very large family to go to college. He instilled in her that college was his gateway out of poverty and how important higher education would be to making her dreams a reality.
Jackson went on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and an MBA from Florida A&M University, before beginning her career in the food manufacturing industry. But the chance opportunity to teach a business course at South College in Knoxville changed her career path when she felt a new tug on her heart.
“It was a life changing, life defining moment when I realized the academic and, more importantly, non-academic barriers my students were facing,” she says. “They didn’t have the same level of support my parents had provided me, and I knew that was where I wanted to devote my time and energy moving forward.”
That shift more than 20 years ago led Jackson to complete her Ed. D. in Administration and Supervision from Tennessee State University in 2007 while pursuing leadership positions at Volunteer State Community College and Columbia State Community College. She assumed the presidency of Nashville State in June 2018.
A strong believer in community engagement, Jackson serves on the boards of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Alignment Nashville, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Urban League of Middle Tennessee, The Memorial Foundation, COMBASE and the American Association for Women in Community Colleges. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., International Women’s Forum, Nashville’s Agenda, and Women in Higher Education in Tennessee (WHET) for which she is a Presidential Advisor.
Jackson is a two-time Aspen Institute College Excellence Presidential Fellow, completing the inaugural New Presidents Fellowship in 2021 and the Aspiring Presidents Fellowship in 2019.
President Jackson is a die-hard football fan, who loves talking football, watching football, and cheering on her son who plays football for Eastern Kentucky University. Dr. Jackson and her husband, Ron, are the proud parents of two children.