TICUA Staff Members
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Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr.
Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr., a native of Kansas, has spent over 30 years in higher education administration. He began his career at Southwest Baptist University in Missouri as an admission recruiter; within a year advanced to the position of Senior Director of Admissions and Student Development.
He holds a doctorate in higher education administration/educational leadership from Vanderbilt University. While attending Vanderbilt he served as the Director of Financial Assistance and Assistant Professor of Religion at Belmont University. In 1995 he served as the Founding Executive Director of the Institute for Family Studies in Colorado. Pressnell soon returned to Tennessee to become the Executive Director of the Tennessee Foundation for Independent Colleges and since 2000 has served as President of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association.
In 2003 the United States Senate appointed Pressnell to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance where he served as Vice Chair from 2007 until his second and final term expired in 2008. In 2007, he testified before Congress on higher education policy issues. The Committee serves as an independent source of advice and counsel to the United States Congress and the Secretary of Education on student aid issues and higher education policy.
In June of 2011, Pressnell was selected for a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to develop the student financing policy for the Government of the Maldives. The policy and funding mechanisms were adopted by the Maldivian Parliament in 2012.
In August of 2013, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed Pressnell as a Commissioner representing the state’s interests on the Education Commission of the States.
In 2014 Pressnell was appointed by four US Senators to serve on a committee to recommend a pathway to reduce the federal regulatory burden on higher education in the United States.
In 2016 Pressnell was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a six year term to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. NACIQI provides recommendations regarding accrediting agencies that monitor the academic quality of postsecondary institutions and educational programs for federal purposes.
In 2017 Pressnell was approached by US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to consider being appointed by President Donald Trump as the US Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education. This post serves as the United States chief higher education policy officer. After careful consideration, Pressnell respectfully declined the offer in order to remain in Tennessee and continue his work with TICUA.
Pressnell serves on numerous international, national, and state level boards. He also has served as an international advisor on higher education reform to foreign governments in the Middle East, South Asia, the Balkan region of Europe and South America.
Ms. Laura Cornick
Cornick has been with TICUA for over 11 years, during which time has held positions in administration and member services. Her role has grown to include leading several of TICUA’s professional development opportunities and most recently launching TICUA’s ACT for Equity initiative. She holds degrees from two TICUA member institutions: a Bachelor of Science degree from Aquinas College and a Master of Arts from Lipscomb University.
Laura and her husband Corey are the parents of two adult children and a high school freshman. Their oldest daughter recently graduated from Lipscomb University and their son is currently serving in the U.S. Navy.
Ms. Tailor Shaffer
Shaffer graduated from Austin Peay State University in July 2020 with a Master of Science in Management. While completing her graduate program, she served as the university’s dual enrollment Graduate Teaching Assistant for Robertson County high school students. Prior to completing her graduate program, Shaffer obtained her Bachelor of Science in General Studies with a Focus in Education from Austin Peay State University in May 2019. Throughout her academic career, she maintained employment with a retail pharmacy, where she held a leadership role as a senior certified technician. She has been happily married for six years and has a young daughter. Shaffer began her career with TICUA in January 2022.
Ms. Amy Heckman
Ms. Heckman joined the TICUA staff in January 2008. Prior to working at TICUA, she worked at Union University as a Staff Assistant in the Office of Student Financial Planning. Heckman is also a graduate of Union University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science in 2003. Heckman is married to Kent Heckman and they have two sons and a daughter.
Dr. John M. Braxton
Professor Braxton is Professor Emeritus of Leadership, Policy and Organizations, Higher Education Leadership and Policy Program, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. He has two major programs of research. One program centers on the study of college and university faculty members. Faculty scholarly role performance and the normative structures of undergraduate college teaching and research are the primary foci of this particular program of research. His other program of research focuses on the college student experience in general and the college student departure process in particular. Within this program of research, Professor Braxton conducts research on college student departure, assesses current theory on college student departure, and constructs and tests theory on this phenomenon.
With colleagues at other universities, Braxton is currently conducting research focused on the empirical identification of normative structures for different areas with student affairs such as housing and residential life professionals, academic advising, Greek life, and the chief student affairs officer. Also with colleagues at other universities, Braxton is also engaged in a line of inquiry focused on the scholarship of practice that entails the identification of the research needs of practitioners.
Professor Braxton has published over 110 publications in the form of articles in referred journals, books, and book chapters. Of his books, five are full length co-authored and twelve are edited books. His full length books include: Rethinking College Student Retention (with William Doyle, Harold Hartley, Amy Hirschy, Willis Jones and Michael McLendon), Professors Behaving Badly (with Eve Proper and Alan Bayer), Faculty Misconduct in Collegiate Teaching (with Alan Bayer), and Institutionalizing a Broader View of Scholarship Through Boyer's Four Domains (with William Luckey and Patricia Helland).
Braxton is a recipient of the Research Achievement Award bestowed by the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the Contribution to Knowledge Award given by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA)-College Student Educators International. Both awards are for outstanding contributions to knowledge that advance the understanding of higher education.
Professor Braxton served as the 9th Editor of the Journal of College Student Development for seven years from 2008 to 2015. During his career, he has served on the editorial boards for the three core journals of higher education as a field of study: The Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education and the Review of Higher Education and as Associate Editor of Higher Education: A Handbook of Theory and Research. He is also a past President of the Association for the Study of Higher.
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