The sixth annual fall/winter commencement and the awarding of degrees at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College will be held Friday in the Godbey Appalachian Center located on the campus at Cumberland. Several hundred students are scheduled to receive degrees and diplomas during the event set to begin at 5 p.m.
Dr. Odell Wilson, longtime SKCTC professor of mathematics and a former administrator, will deliver the keynote address to the graduates. Wilson has been on the faculty of Southeast since 1984, and prior to that time, he served as the county administrator for Lee County, Va.
Born in Middlesboro, he grew up on a 150-acre farm in southwest Virginia. He is a 1972 graduate of Thomas Walker High School and attended the University of Virginia at Charlottesville where he aspired to be an aeronautical engineer, but when federal funds for the support of NASA diminished, he changed career paths and transferred to Berea College in Kentucky, majoring in physics.
After receiving his degree from Berea, he enrolled in graduate school at the University of Kentucky. He holds a master’s degree from Union College and received a doctorate, Ed.D., from East Tennessee State University.
Arriving at Southeast 28 years ago, Wilson has forged a stellar career of teaching and service where he teaches various algebra, calculus and trigonometry courses. Additionally, he has served as the institution’s academic dean and also holds the distinction of being the founding director of the SKCTC Middlesboro campus which opened its doors to students in 1995.
“I am honored to have been chosen to address the graduates,” he said. “I will likely tell our graduates they should map out a strategy for success — setting goals — for life after they have received their degrees from Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College. Hopefully, anything I can tell them will serve to stimulate as well as inspire, encouraging them, possibly, to accomplish importance as they seek a productive life, one that is well lived.”
During his time at SKCTC, Wilson has been involved in many areas of the college’s outreach mission, specifically his connection with the Kingdom Come Swappin’ Meetin’ where he entertains and educates area school children with Appalachian-themed folk tales.
Additionally, he serves as the elder at a Primitive Baptist church in Elydale, Va., where he leads the assembly in worship each Sunday. He has been married to his wife of 40 years, Joann, a high school teacher. The couple are the parents of a son, Jared, and daughter, Erin, both educators.