Dwight J. Fennell is the 23rd president of Texas College (Tyler, TX). He is a native of Miami, FL. Following graduation from high school, he immediately enrolled in Saint Augustine’s College (now Saint Augustine’s University) in Raleigh, NC, where he completed the baccalaureate degree in history and government. He pursued and completed the master of arts degree in history at Atlanta University, and a second master of science degree in education at Florida International University in Miami, FL.
He received the education specialist and doctor of philosophy degrees from Florida State University in Tallahassee. He has completed post-doctoral work in educational leadership with the American Council on Education as an ACE Fellow at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. Fennell began his professional career in higher education at Florida International University, where he worked in various capacities including community service initiatives, adult and continuing education and as assistant director of the honors program. He also worked at Florida Atlantic University as director of the Student Retention Program.
After leaving the State University System of Florida, Fennell taught at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, and later at Saint Augustine’s College (his alma mater). While at Saint Augustine’s College, he became a tenured associate professor of history and later vice president for academic affairs, a position he held for seven of the 11 years he spent at the institution. Fennell relocated to Dallas in 1998 to become provost of Paul Quinn College with the responsibilities of both academic affairs and student affairs. He was appointed interim president of the college in 2001, and in 2002, he received the unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees to become the 32nd president of Paul Quinn College.
During his tenure as president, the college experienced an increase in enrollment, increased student retention, enhanced community collaborations, increased funding of student scholarships, renovations to the campus buildings and increase in the college’s endowment. Fennell served as Executive Director of Project Development in 2005 at The Potter’s House Incorporated with the ministry of Bishop T.D. Jakes for two years. He held the overall responsibilities for design, development and construction of Capella Park, a residential subdivision featuring more than 1,000 single-family homes. He also had responsibility for the administrative oversight of Clay Academy, a private, Christian college preparatory school. Fennell led the preparatory school to accreditation, scholarship funding, enrollment and grade level growth.
As president of Texas College, Fennell leads with a focus on “student centeredness.” This means that his primary direction is with creating an educational environment and processes that lead to student learning in an atmosphere that is conducive for such. Fennell’s approach to leadership is that of “shared governance,” and he holds his team to accountability, integrity and productivity. Fennell’s “student centeredness” focus has been embraced by faculty, staff and students. The results of this focus have led to facility improvements, academic program refinement, accreditation enhancements, enrollment growth, and growth in the college’s endowment along with enhanced relationships with the local communities.
Fennell is married to Angelia, and they have one son, Dwight, Jr.