During a meeting of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 9,, the High Impact Legacy Award was presented posthumously to the late Tarrant County College District Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley, whose 47-year career at TCC focused on student success and extensive community service.
Hadley’s daughter, Ardenia Gould, accepted the award, along with her daughter. Gould has founded and chairs The Chancellor’s Promise, a new 501(c) 3 foundation honoring the life and legacy of Hadley and committed to cultivating the leaders of tomorrow.
Fort Worth leaders held Hadley in high esteem as a champion for diversity and inclusion, a driving force in TCC’s expansion and growth and a stalwart in civic and cultural affairs.
Hadley was the first African-American and first female chancellor at TCC. Her many achievements – locally, statewide and nationally – included service as the first African-American and first female chairman of the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Board and Tarrant County Hospital District board. She served in similar capacities for many other local organizations.
Born and reared in a small East Texas logging town, Hadley referred to herself as “the little girl from Leggett.”
Her drive led her to become the first black student from Leggett to earn a college degree when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Prairie View A&M and, later, a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University. As a public school teacher, Hadley discovered her passion for nurturing students’ growth, a calling that bloomed in 1968 when she became a founding faculty member at what was then called Tarrant County Junior College’s Northeast Campus in Hurst.
Hadley went on to serve in TCC administrative roles, including director of personnel and vice chancellor for human resources.
She wrote and oversaw implementation of the college’s first affirmative action plan in 1973. When she became chancellor in 2010, she set into motion initiatives that led to student-focused programs such as Achieving the Dream, e-learning, Weekend College, Early College High School, Innovation Forum and more.
Hadley joins past honorees that include U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, Fort Worth Mayor Bob Bolen and former XTO Energy Chairman and Texas Rangers owner Bob Simpson.
Hadley died on Oct. 1, 2015.