Dr. Chip retires

Dr. Chips is headed home to Mississippi.

Coastal Alabama Community College at Thomasville said goodbye to its Campus Director Tuesday with the retirement of Dr. Chip Shepherd. Shepherd has been the Campus Director at Coastal Thomasville since 2007. With his retirement, Shepherd ends a 40-plus year career in education which spanned three states.

In his 12 years in Thomasville, Shepherd was instrumental in workforce development of Clarke County. Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day in his remarks to Shepherd, credited him for steering three major employers to north Clarke and Wilcox Counties.

“The reason why we have these new employers along Highway 43 like Louisiana-Pacific, Golden Dragon and now, Westervelt, is the job Dr. Chip Shepherd did in getting you all to do your job in training folks for these jobs,” Day said. “He helped champion our cause, because we had a warrior here and he went to war for us. He taught us how to fight and he has prepared for our future.”

Shepherd commuted to his position at Coastal Thomasville from his home from the Middleton community, which is about 10 miles outside of Quitman, Miss., a distance of 72 miles or about 140-plus miles roundtrip. Shepherd had been the Superintendent of Quitman City Schools before coming to Alabama. He served at Leroy Schools, before taking the campus director position in Thomasville.

“To tell you what that means for a trip of 72 miles, one way, I have gone through four pickup trucks, countless tires, about 1,000 gallons of gallons of gas to drive between 450-500,000 miles. It’s like going around the earth, 18 times,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd said he won’t miss the commute, but he will dearly miss his role at the Thomasville campus.

“This is usually a day for laughs, but I just don’t feel like laughing,” Shepherd said. “I appreciate everyone of you. I will take these memories with me and I will always cherish them.”

Many of the faculty spoke warmly of Shepherd’s tenure at Coastal Thomasville.

“There has been no greater person to work with,” said faculty member Richard Bryant.

Shepherd was later presented a commendation from the Alabama House of Representatives. Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville) made the presentation.

“You are probably one of the few people from Mississippi who will be carrying home an official Alabama State Flag,” Jackson said.

Shepherd is a native of Quitman, Miss., as his wife Karen, and their two children, Meridith Shepherd Carney and McElvin Shepherd. His mother, Lora Shepherd, was at the Thomasville celebration and she lives in nearby Jasper County, Miss.

Dr. Shepherd has a Bachelors, Masters and Doctorial degrees from Mississippi State University. One of his parting gifts was a Mississippi State cowbell.

Shepherd has teaching licenses in English, Social Studies, Science, Career Tech and Educational Administration from Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

At Coastal, Shepherd was able to steer a $5 million grant to the campus through the National Science Foundation. The grant helped develop workforce strategies for the pulp and paper industries in Southwest Alabama. He was also steer another $12.5 million in state and federal grants from the Department of Education, Delta Regional Authority, Alabama Workforce Council, Department of Labor, Department of Agriculture and the Alabama Building Commission.

While in Mississippi, then Gov. Kirk Fordice appointed him to the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents.

In 2013, he was part of team that visited mainland China to establish workforce programs to bring an industry to Southwest Alabama. A year later, Golden Dragon USA brought its copper refinement plant to Sunny South. It now has 400 employees.

In 2016, he was named Alabama Southern Community College System’s Administrator of the Year.

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