Belle S. Wheelan

Belle S. Wheelan is president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges—the first African-American and the first woman to serve in that capacity. Her career in higher education spans 44 years and includes roles as a faculty member, chief student services officer, provost, college president, and Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In several of those roles, she was the first African-American and/or woman to serve in those capacities.

Wheelan received her bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in Texas, with a double major in psychology and sociology. She also holds a master’s degree in developmental educational psychology from Louisiana State University and a doctorate in educational administration (with a special concentration in community college leadership) from the University of Texas at Austin.

She has been a member of numerous local, state and national organizations, including Rotary International, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs. She also has served on the boards of directors for several organizations, including American College Testing Inc., the American Association of Community Colleges, Excelencia in Education, and the National Student Clearinghouse.

Wheelan has received numerous awards and recognition, including five honorary degrees; the Distinguished Graduate Award from Trinity University (2002), and from the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin (1992); Washingtonian Magazine’s100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C. (2001); the AAUW Woman of Distinction Award (2002), and the AACC Leadership Award (2011).

She is the mother of an adult son, Reginald.

John Hope Franklin Award nominee Belle Wheelan

Belle Wheelan, the first African American and the first woman to serve as President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges,  will be featured in the March 12, 2015 edition of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. Dr. Wheelan will be recognized for her contributions to higher education, especially to the community college sector, and she'll be presented with the Diverse John Hope Franklin award.