Dr. Jessica Pace named sole finalist for Panola College President

Dr. Jessica Pace

The Panola College Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to name Dr. Jessica Pace as the sole finalist to become the 11th President and first female to lead Panola College. Dr. Pace embodies the values of excellence, integrity, and innovation, and her visionary leadership, coupled with her deep-rooted ties to the community, makes her uniquely qualified to lead the College to a future of continued growth and excellence.

“We are very proud to select Dr. Jessica Pace as the next President of Panola College,” said William Goolsby, Board of Trustees Chair. “The Board looks forward to welcoming Dr. Pace into her new role and is confident that her leadership will inspire excellence throughout the institution.”

Dr. Pace is a Carthage native who attended Panola College after graduating from Carthage High School. She holds a Doctorate in Learning and Organizational Change from Baylor University, a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor of Science in Merchandising, also from the University of North Texas. Additionally, she is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).

As Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Panola College since 2014, Dr. Pace spearheaded initiatives that significantly impacted the College's growth and success. In that position, she was responsible for the Panola College Foundation, marketing, public relations, alumni, scholarships, special events, grant opportunities, and other special projects. Under her leadership, the College's endowment total surged from $3.6 million to an impressive $12 million, a testament to her strategic fundraising skills and stewardship. She was also instrumental in increasing the annual number of student scholarships from 80 to more than 600.

Notably, Dr. Pace led the fundraising efforts and implementation of groundbreaking programs such as the Panola College Promise Program, Emergency Aid Program, and emergency scholarships, which have provided invaluable support to students. Her adept management of donor relations and fundraising efforts resulted in over $5 million raised within a four-year period, fostering a culture of philanthropy and support for the College. Moreover, she developed the largest sponsor-related fundraiser, Designer Purse Bingo, that has hosted a sellout crowd over the past 12 events.

In addition to her role as Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Dr. Pace has served as an adjunct faculty member since 2011, teaching classes for both transfer and technical. Prior to her tenure in Advancement, Dr. Pace held various positions including Panola College Store Manager and Tech Prep Coordinator.

Dr. Pace's professional achievements are complemented by her extensive involvement in professional organizations and community service activities. She has served in leadership roles in national, state, and regional associations, including the Texas Association of Community College Foundations and the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network. Locally, she is a member of the Carthage Rotary Club and serves as a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador. Additionally, she worked with the City of Carthage to design and raise funds for an all-inclusive, intergenerational park for the community, which won the 2022 Texas Municipal League Excellence Award.

Dr. Pace lives in Carthage with her husband, Michael Pace, and their two children, Sarina and Sawyer.

“As I step into the role of President, I am both honored and humbled by the opportunity to lead Panola College forward, and feel fortunate to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Greg Powell and build upon his remarkable legacy,” said Dr. Pace. “My career has been marked by a steadfast focus on student success, working to remove barriers for students and ensure their achievement. I am extremely excited to continue serving our community and navigating the ever-changing landscape of higher education, ensuring that the College remains at the forefront of innovation and excellence.”

Under state law and Board policy, the Board must wait 21 days before officially appointing Pace to the position. The Board will officially offer the position to Dr. Pace at the April 29, 2024, Board meeting.

The Board would like to thank the college community for its continued support throughout the search process. Additionally, the Board would like to thank the Executive Search Committee for its exceptional work and effort. The Committee, which was chaired by Kevin Smith, included Dr. Kevin Rutherford, Daron McDaniel, Annissa Jackson, Alan Howard, Denise Welch, Whitney McBee, Jody Harris, Kaycee McKnight, Toni Biggs, and Lyle Harriman, a representative from Student Government Association. Dr. Greg Powell and Jeremy Dorman served as ex officio members.