Tarrant County College Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley died on Thursday morning, Oct. 1, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Hadley, 73, said last year that she would be taking time away from her duties as chancellor to focus on her treatment.
She was a founding faculty member of the college, beginning her career in 1968 teaching business on the school’s Northeast Campus. Hadley was named interim chancellor following the departure of Chancellor Leonardo de la Garza in 2009, then named chancellor the following year. During her tenure, TCC increased student enrollment by an average of 2,700 students per year with graduations increasing from 4,760 students per year in 2010 to 7,215 in 2015.
Hadley’s professional achievements included: enhancing employee performance by creating Leadership TCC, the TCC Institute and the TCC Employee Scholarship Program.
In a profile of Hadley published in 2010 when she was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, she described herself as a “little girl from Leggett [Texas].” Growing up in the small southeast Texas logging town in the era of segregation, Hadley became the first black student from Leggett to graduate from college, earning a bachelor’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and a master’s degree from Ohio’s Bowling Green State University.
She became the fourth chancellor and the first woman and first African-American to lead the Tarrant County College District. Hadley’s other personal achievements included an appointment to the Trinity River Authority of Texas and the Texas Governor’s Committee on Volunteerism. She also received an honorary doctorate degree in education from Paul Quinn College in Dallas and was named a Great Woman of Texas by Fort Worth Business in 2010.
In a letter to the community, TCC Board President Louise Appleman said: “This is a sad and difficult time for all of us. We will miss our leader and friend. She meant so much to so many. Erma cared for ‘her’ students, faculty, board and executive team and she cared for her community.”
University of Texas at Arlington President Vistasp M. Karbhari, who worked with Hadley on creating more opportunities for TCC graduates to complete their four-year degrees, said: “Chancellor Hadley was a remarkable higher education leader and an incredible partner to us at UTA. Her bold vision for expanding access to education across our county through the development of multiple pathways, a high quality of academic offerings, online platforms, job training partnerships and certificate education has elevated the quality of our region’s workforce and assisted thousands of students in improving their lives.”
The TCC Board of Trustees named Angela Robinson, general counsel and vice chancellor of administration for TCC, as acting chancellor.
Hadley is survived by her husband, Bill J. Hadley, and a daughter, Ardenia Johnson Gould.
Funeral and memorial arrangements were pending at press time. – Robert Francis