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Halifax County native tapped to lead national jr. college athletics

South Boston News
Parker / May 11, 2017
A Halifax County native has been tapped to take over as new executive director of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) beginning July 17.

Christopher J. Parker, a former student-athlete at Halifax County High School, will replace Mary Ellen Leicht, who announced in August that she would be retiring after 28 years of service to the association.

Parker is the son of Wanda and Jason Parker of the north Halifax County community. Wanda Parker teaches at Sydnor Jennings Elementary and previously taught at Halifax County Middle School, and Jason Parker is a former member of the county school board.

After graduating from HCHS and earning his undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech, Christopher Parker has gone on to successful and varied career in community college and junior college athletics.

“During the national search for a new executive director, we were fortunate to have many strong candidates apply,” commented NJCAA president Bryce Roderick. “Dr. Parker came to the top of the list due to his background in community college athletics and NJCAA experience. Chris is a strong advocate of students and has a track record of success in obtaining financial partners for his institutions. The NJCAA committee looks forward to starting this new NJCAA era with Dr. Parker.”

In 2006, Parker was hired as the first-ever athletic director at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville and led that institution to becoming the first community college in Virginia to join the NJCAA. He raised over $2 million for intercollegiate athletics at Patrick Henry, leading to new facility construction projects as well as renovations.

Under his leadership Patrick Henry’s athletic program grew from its original three sports to 12 before he left in December 2015. Parker was named the “Under Armour Southeast Athletic Director of the Year” in 2010-11.

In addition to his other responsibilities at Patrick Henry, he served as the assistant director and director of NJCAA Region 10 for seven years and he also helped to guide an additional eight Virginia Community College into membership with the NJCAA, serving as a direct consultant for five institutions in establishing their athletic programs.

During his ten years at Patrick Henry, he also rose through the ranks and served as assistant dean for academics and then as dean before taking on the duties of vice president for Institutional Advancement, Campus Life and Athletics. He was also the executive director of the PHCC Foundation and Real Estate Foundation.

Dr. Angeline Godwin, current president of Patrick Henry, praised his hiring. “Chris Parker pioneered NJCAA athletic programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He not only built PHCC athletics, but also mentored other colleges throughout the state and the region. I have always appreciated what NJCAA means to our college. We are all so proud of Chris and what he brings to this new role.”

Currently, Parker is the vice president for enrollment management, marketing and public relations at Pfeiffer University, where he has been employed since December. There he is responsible for all levels of academic entrance into the university which consists of traditional undergraduate students, online undergraduate transfer students and graduate students. Since being there he has led the college to significant growth in new incoming undergraduate students.

After drawing the largest incoming class in nearly 30 years, the school is projected to have an enrollment increase of nearly 50 percent compared to the 2014-15 enrollment.

He holds both a doctorate and education specialist degree in educational leadership from Liberty University, master of science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, bachelor of science degree from Virginia Tech and associate degree from Southside Virginia Community College. Professional certifications include non-profit leadership, Duke University; online teaching and instruction, Longwood University; and entrepreneurship, National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship.

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