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Betty J. Lewis Unsung Hero, Dr. Valerie Wilson

Dr. Valerie Wilson - Betty J. Lewis Unsung Hero

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Dr. Valerie Wilson has been chosen as the Betty J. Lewis Unsung Hero for March 2021 by the Black History Celebration Committee. Each year the group, comprised of college staff and community members, hosts an annual fundraiser to raise money for the Betty J. Lewis Minority Scholarship Fund. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Black History Celebration was canceled. In lieu of this event, the Black History Celebration Committee made the decision to name a Betty J. Lewis Unsung Hero for each month leading up to the 2022 event.

Dr. Valerie Wilson is the Vice Chancellor for Academics and Planning at SAU Tech in Camden.

Dr. Valerie Wilson is the second of five children born to her parents, the late Clinton, and Florence Williams.  Her father passed away in an accident at the age of 29 years old. Valerie was six years old at the time. Dr. Wilson and her four siblings were raised by a single parent on a farm located on Highway 7 North of Camden, Arkansas. They didn’t have much in material things but they had plenty of love in the household. Dr. Wilson attended a segregated school for the first grade. During school integration, she and her oldest brother were moved to the Harmony Grove school district where she and her siblings graduated high school.

Dr. Wilson has been employed at SAU Tech since 1994.  She was hired as administrative assistant to the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs.  She is currently the Vice-Chancellor for Academics & Planning at the college.  Prior to coming to SAU Tech, Dr. Wilson was employed at General Dynamics/Hughes for twelve years. She earned her A.S. in Business Administration from SAU Tech (1988), a B.S. in Industrial Technology from Southern Illinois University (1989) while employed at General Dynamics/Hughes and an M.B.A. from Henderson State University (2001) and Ed.D. from Capella University (2015) since she has been employed at SAU Tech.  Dr. Wilson is the first African-American female vice-chancellor at SAU Tech and the first African-American female to hold two vice-chancellor positions while employed at the College.

Dr. Wilson is a member of Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church where she is a deaconess as well as church typist and director of all choirs. She has served as vacation bible school superintendent, assisted with the youth department, and served as assistant Sunday school teacher for the young adult class.  Dr. Wilson has also served as assistant youth director and church pianist at her church. She loves volunteering her time to her church and serves in whatever capacity is needed.

Dr. Wilson loves giving her time to her community. She serves as a current member and past president of the Leadership Camden Area Board of Directors, Executive Director of the Camden/Ouachita County Community Housing Development Organization, Inc., treasurer of Ouachita Electric Cooperative Operation Roundup Board of Directors, President of the Camden Housing Authority Board of Directors, and member of Kiwanis Club of Camden. She has served as President of Ouachita/Calhoun Country Single Parent Scholarship Board of Directors; past president and past personnel/nominating committee chair of the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Ouachita County; member of the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development Board of Director; member and past president of Ouachita Valley Community Foundation Board of Directors; past president and member of the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; member of the Harmony School District Board of Directors (first African-American female); chair of Jr. Leadership Scholarship Fundraising Committee.  Dr. Wilson also served as Professional Judgment Panelist for the Joint Committee on Educational Adequacy of 2003 Arkansas General Assembly; and a judge for Entergy’s Community Partnership Grants.

In a work-related capacity, Dr. Wilson is a member of the Arkansas Council for Women in Higher Education; past president of the SAU Tech chapter of the Arkansas Association of Women in Two-Year Colleges; and past secretary and past president of the Arkansas Distance Learning Association

Dr. Wilson has received the following awards/recognitions:  2008 Vida H. Lampkin Award for the Distinguished Woman of the Year for her service to the Camden Community; 2002 Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges Outstanding Staff Award; 2002 SAU Tech Outstanding Administrator Award; 2001 Business & Professional Women Graduate Study Scholarship; 2000-2001 Outstanding Women in Arkansas Higher Education Scholarship; 2000 Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges Outstanding Alumnus Award; 1998 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award; and Humanitarian award from the Outstanding Women of Distinction South Arkansas Chapter.  She has also served as a presenter at the Arkansas Association of Two-Year College Conference, Arkansas Distance Learning Association Conference, Arkansas Blackboard Users’ Conference the and UAMS Teaching with Technology Symposium.

Dr. Wilson is a 1996 graduate of Leadership Camden Area; 2007 graduate of Leadership Arkansas’ inaugural; and 2010 graduate of the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges Leadership Institute.

Dr. Wilson and her husband Travis, have four children, Travis, Santresa, Mikie, and Tracey; seven grandchildren Jaquestin, Amauryae, Sydnee, Anna, Aerial, Isis, and Taylor; one godson, Dekerrion; and three bonus daughters, Monica McKinney, Constance Washington; and the late LaYonda Jones.

Her niece, Veronica, asked her one day why she does so much.  Her response was that she just can’t help it.  It makes her feel good knowing that she has done something to make a positive difference in someone’s life.  “God has richly blessed me and I will never be able to repay Him for that.  I truly do believe that we were put here to serve and not to be served.  I hope that while God allows me to live on this side, I will be able to give to someone something that He has given to me.”

The Black History Committee plans to identify an unsung hero from the community to feature each month. To make donations to the Betty J. Lewis Minority Scholarship Fund contact kcoker@sautech.edu.

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