Tennessee Wesleyan University’s first Athens native to serve as president is now on the job.
TWU recently announced Tyler Forrest had been selected to become the new TWU president and he spoke with The Daily Post-Athenian about his new position.
“I am very excited to be the new president of TWU,” Forrest expressed. “This really is an opportunity of a lifetime for me to lead and serve Tennessee Wesleyan, which is such a tremendous institution and is a place that I had always admired and had an interest in.”
Forrest is the first native Athenian to become the president of the university since its founding.
“It is crazy that it has taken 165 years for an Athenian to be the president of TWU, but I would be remiss not to say that I am honored to be that person,” he said. “I think TWU is a tremendous institution and to have the opportunity to lead it in my own hometown is something that I honestly never would have imagined and is something that I am very much so looking forward to doing.”
His current plans include listening to students, faculty, staff and the community for their impression of what could be improved upon across the campus.
“I want to start by having a clear focus on student access and also continuing to support the academic enterprise,” Forrest noted. “Those are the bedrocks of how the institution functions and I believe that if we can succeed in those areas we will succeed in others.”
According to Forrest this position is an “incredible” opportunity that he didn’t think he would have the chance to do.
“This really is an opportunity that I couldn’t be more excited about,” he expressed. “Having the ability to have a personal connection to the campus and the community is just an incredible added value to me and something that makes this even more special.”
Forrest noted that, growing up, he was an attendee of the Athens City School System and a graduate of McMinn County High School before advancing to college where he acquired three degrees at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
Forrest holds a bachelor of science degree in finance, a master’s degree in business administration and a PhD in learning and leadership.
His work history continued his tenure at UTC, where he started as a student worker before being hired 12 years ago full time to work as a financial analyst and then in various other positions in financial management, auxiliary services, as well as serving as vice chancellor for finance and administration.
“I think in a lot of ways this is a unique collision of experiences,” he stated about his combined education and work history. “The ability to bring my experience at a larger institution back to TWU I think is an added value that I think I can bring ideas that have never been thought of before. I also think my background in finance on the enterprise level is a plus because I’ve had the ability to work across the entirety of UT campus and also my educational experience, having a strong academic track record, has given me an incredible appreciation for the academic enterprise and that is something that I will be a proud champion of day one being on campus.”
His hobbies include reading, yard work, fishing, camping and being outdoors.
His family consists of his wife of 12 years, Emily, and their two children, Caroline and Benjamin.
Other organizations he is affiliated with include Eastanallee Baptist Church in Riceville, chair of the McMinn County Library Board, the McMinn Regional Humane Society Board and serves as a member of the Athens City Council Advisory Committee.
“I could not be more excited about the opportunity to serve Tennessee Wesleyan which is a campus that I believe is absolutely exceptional and plays a major role in our community,” Forrest expressed. “I look forward to taking it to even brighter days than what it has already had.”