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Board of Trustees with GovernorAPSU Board of Trustees

Governor Bill Haslam named eight individuals to serve on Austin Peay State University’s first Board of Trustees. These exceptional men and women join Dr. Nell Rayburn, the trustee selected by APSU’s faculty and Crystal Wallenius, the student trustee selected by the Board, in providing important oversight and guidance to this institution. This new, 10-member board replaces the Tennessee Board of Regents as Austin Peay’s governing body, but unlike the TBR, the APSU Board of Trustees focuses solely on this institution and its role in advancing higher education in Tennessee.

The men and women who serve on Austin Peay State University's Board of Trustees represent a wealth of experience in both the private and military sectors.

Members of the Board of Trustees are:


Billy P. Atkins (Term expires in 2020)

Billy P. AtkinsBilly P. Atkins, chairman and CEO of Legends Bank, has spent more than 56 years in the banking industry. While still a student at Montgomery Central High School, he was hired by Northern Bank of Tennessee, and he went on to work with that institution for the next 28 years, being elevated to Senior Vice President and member of its Board of Directors, before seeing it sold to First American in Nashville. In 1998, when First American was going to merge with a larger institution, Atkins founded Legends Bank in Clarksville.

As a longtime Montgomery County resident, Atkins has dedicated himself to improving his community. He helped found the Economic Development Council, and as a member of the Industrial Development Board of Montgomery County, he has helped bring major employers, such as Hankook, to the Clarksville area. He also served as president of the Clarksville Chamber of Commerce, and he received that organization’s lifetime achievement award. In 1996 the Tennessee Bankers Association named Atkins a Leader of Banking Excellence 

Atkins graduated from Louisiana State University’s Graduate School of Banking of the South in 1977, and over the years he has become a strong supporter of Austin Peay State University. He is a member of the APSU Foundation—an organization chartered by the state to financially support the University—and he served as the foundation’s president in 1996. Atkins is a former chair of Austin Peay’s Capital Campaign, and he is a member of several University organizations, including the Tower Club, the Govs Club and the Red Coat Society. Atkins also serves on the State of Tennessee Foundation Board for Tennessee Homeland Security and the Department of Safety.

Katherine Cannata (Term expires in 2023)

Katherine Cannata Katherine Johnson Cannata, dealer principal for Wyatt Johnson Automotive Group, is a Clarksville native who worked for Price Waterhouse in Atlanta, before returning to join her family’s car dealership. A graduate of Clarksville High School, she earned a bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she played Division I tennis.

Cannata worked in public accounting as an auditor for Price Waterhouse in Atlanta for nine years. In that role, she was able to learn aspects of several different types of industries, from entertainment businesses to food companies.

Cannata returned to Clarksville to work with her father, the late Sid Johnson, in the growing Wyatt-Johnson dealerships. She steadily worked her way up, finally being named dealer principal of the company with more than 300 local employees. Wyatt-Johnson purchased the local Toyota dealership in 2012, adding that brand to the company’s list that includes Buick-GMC, Hyundai, Subaru, Mazda, Kia and Volkswagen. The Nashville Business Journal named Wyatt-Johnson one of Middle Tennessee’s top-earning businesses owned by a woman.

Cannata is an active member of the Clarksville community, having served on several local organizations and as chair of the Aspire Clarksville Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Larry W. Carroll (Term expires in 2021)

Larry W. CarrollLarry Carroll took a chance in 1980 and opened his own financial planning firm. The APSU graduate is president and CEO of Carroll Financial Associates, Inc., which manages and supervises over $2.4 billion in advisory and brokerage assets and employs 21 Certified Financial Planner practitioners. Since that day in 1980, his core philosophy has never wavered, which is, “The best interest of the client is the only interest that matters.”

The firm’s success has led Carroll to be featured regularly in many of the country’s top financial publications. Quoted in Money, Newsweek, The New York Times, Medical Economics, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, US News and World Report, American Banker and other financial publications, Carroll has also appeared on CNBC Street Signs and the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.

 He has been named on Forbes’ list of America’s Top 200 Wealth Advisors, and he has been listed on Worth Magazine’s listing of The Nation’s Most Exclusive Wealth Managers 12 times. Carroll has also been named on all of Barron’s annual lists of The Top Financial Advisors.

 He is a past national chairman of the 24,000-member Financial Planning Association and serves on the board of Park Sterling Bank and Capitala Finance Corporation, both publically traded companies. He has previously served on the boards of other community banks and educational institutions. He is also committed to numerous charities and universities, including the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, American Red Cross, Hospice and Palliative Care Charlotte Region, Austin Peay State University, Winthrop University and The University of Tennessee.


Don Jenkins (Term expires in 2021)

Don JenkinsDon Jenkins, president and CEO of Jenkins & Wynne Ford-Lincoln-Honda is an avid supporter of football and basketball, and he has served as past president of the APSU Foundation, co-chair of the APSU “Changing Minds, Changing Lives” Capital Campaign and a member of the APSU Presidential Circle of Advisors.

Jenkins attended Clarksville High School, and he later earned his Bachelor of Arts at Rhodes College in Memphis. He returned to Clarksville to work in a family business that, under his leadership, would become one of the top automobile dealerships in the nation. He is also co-owner with Clay Smith of Pennyrile Ford in Hopkinsville.

For six years, Jenkins served as Region 7 Commissioner for the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission. He is an organizer and director of Cumberland Bank, vice chairman of the bank’s executive committee, 2013-14 chairman of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Industrial Board, 2014-15 Chairman of the Economic Development Council, co-chair for two building campaigns at First Baptist Church and two-time chairman for Military Affairs at the Clarksville Chamber of Commerce.

Jenkins is often recognized for his business and philanthropic work, being named Tennessee’s Time Dealer of the Year in 2010, 13-time winner of the American Cancer Society’s “Best of Clarksville” award, six-time winner of the Honda President’s Award and 10-time winner of Ford’s President’s Award. He was also presented with the 2013 Lincoln President’s Award and the United Way of the Greater Clarksville Region’s Ben C. Parks Award. Jenkins recently received the APSU Alumni Association’s Outstanding Service Award, the Alumni Association’s Wendell Gilbert Award and the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellors Award for Excellence in Philanthropy.  

Gary Luck, Ph.D. (Term expires in 2020)

Gary Luck, Ph. DRetired Gen. Gary Luck graduated from Kansas State University's School of Engineering in 1961. He was designated a distinguished military graduate and later commissioned in the Regular Army as a second lieutenant. He would go on to serve more than 36 years as a U.S. Army officer, retiring as a four-star General who had served in command assignments at the highest levels of the U.S. military, including Commander-in-Chief of Combined Forces Command Korea, Commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, and Commander of the Joint Special Operations Command.

Luck served multiple tours in Vietnam, with tours as a commander of the 5th Special Forces Group’s A-411 in 1964 - 1965 and as commander of C Troop, 3/17th Air Cavalry in 1967 - 1968. Luck is a decorated combat veteran, having received the Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star medal with 2 oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart. Following his time in Vietnam, he went on to serve as commander of the 182nd Assault Helicopter Company, assistant to the assistant secretary of the Army, commander of the 2/17 Air Cavalry Squadron, chief of the Force Modernization Division for the U.S. Army Europe and commander of 2nd Brigade, 8th Infantry Division.  

Before retiring in 1996, Luck also held several other major command and staff positions, including assistant division commander of the 101st Airborne Division, commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division and commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm

Luck attended numerous military schools and courses, including the Armor Basic and Advanced Officer courses, the Armed Forces Staff College and the United States Army War College. In addition to his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Kansas State University, he earned an MBA from Florida State University and a doctorate in business administration (ORSA) from George Washington University. Luck is currently employed as a Senior Fellow for the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., in support of the Pinnacle, Capstone and Keystone programs.
Celeste Malone, Student Trustee (Term expires in 2019)

Celeste MaloneCeleste Malone, current Graduate Assistant for the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center, grew up in Murfreesboro, TN where she graduated from Riverdale High School in 2013. After graduation, Celeste moved to Clarksville, TN to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Communication Arts focusing in Public Relations and minoring in Political Science.

During her undergraduate years, Malone was selected to represent APSU at The Washington Center Internship Program during the 2015 Spring semester. While there, she worked for The Congressional Award located on Capitol Hill where she helped to maintain day-to-day office duties. She also was responsible for pitching The Award to respective Congressional Offices.

After returning from The Hill, she became the Social Media and Marketing Assistant at the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Culture Center where she was responsible for designing all promotional materials for events hosted by the Center. She also joined The All State Student Newspaper where she served as the Assistant News Editor.

Going into her senior year, Malone was named Editor-In-Chief of The All State leading the staff to over 40 national and local awards. Some of the awards included, 2nd Place Magazine Page Layout Designer SEJC and 2nd Place Public Service Journalism within the Southeastern Journalism Conference.

 Additionally Malone received APSU’s prestigious Meningall Governors Cup Award for Leadership, The Hattie Wilhoite Walker Leadership Award, the Marvin Utleye Leadership in Journalism Award and was named to the 2016 APSU Homecoming Court.

 Malone graduated with her B.S. in Communication Arts Magna Cum Laude and returned in the Fall to begin her Master’s in Marketing Communication.

She is a proud member of Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Society and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.


Valencia May, DDS (Term expires in 2020)

Valencia May, DDSDr. Valencia May, general dentist and owner of Plaza Dental Offices in Memphis, graduated second in her class from Shelbyville High School, where she also participated in softball, track and basketball. She then headed north to Austin Peay State University, where she excelled as a student and was a walk-on for the APSU basketball team as a freshman. May was elected Homecoming Queen during her time at Austin Peay.

In 1985, May graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry, with a minor in mathematics.

A few months later, May enrolled in the University of Tennessee’s College of Dentistry, where she graduated in the top 20 percent of her class. She then embarked on a seven-year career with the United States Air Force, providing dental care for enlistees at bases in Michigan and Mississippi. After leaving the military, she returned to Memphis to open her own dental practice.

In 2003, May was honored with Austin Peay’s Young Alumna Award. She is also a member of the University’s African American Alumni Chapter. She is member of the Memphis Dental Society, and she served as chair of that organization’s Dental Health Committee. She is also a board member for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry’s Alumni Association. She is a member of the Tennessee Dental Association, the American Dental Association, the National Dental Association and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

Robin Mealer (Term expires in 2021)

Robin MealerRetired Brig. Gen. Robin Mealer, an Austin Peay State University alumna, is director of the U.S. Army Manpower Analysis Agency at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. She earned a Master of Arts degree in special education at APSU while she was professor of military science in the University’s ROTC program from 1996-2000.

Mealer earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from York College of Pennsylvania and upon graduation was commissioned as an air defense artillery officer, with orders to initial entry rotary wing training. She has served primarily in aviation and force management assignments at various installations, including Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Upon selection as a force management officer in 2000, she was assigned to the Pentagon in various duty positions in the Army, culminating with an assignment as the chief of the Force Management and Integration Division. She led Army chief of staff initiatives to transform and build Army force structure capabilities, develop a RESET program to restore strategic depth, gain approval on additional end strength and deployed to Afghanistan to assess Headquarters and Joint Manning documents of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. She was deployed to Iraq for 16 months to advise Iraqi Ministry of Defense General Officers on the development of their institutional capabilities to generate, train and sustain their forces.

Mealer assumed her current duties on Dec. 12, 2011, and as director, she is responsible for the oversight of all manpower determination policies and analytical methodologies used in manpower requirements validation for the Army’s generating force. In addition to her bachelor’s degree from York College and master’s degree from APSU, Mealer has a master’s in military science from the Command and General Staff College and a master’s in national security and strategy from the Army War College. She has attended a wide variety of military schools, culminating with her graduation from the Joint Force Staff College in 2010.


Mike O’Malley (Term expires in 2023)

Mike O'MalleyMike O’Malley, an Air Force veteran, earned his college degree from Ohio University. When he moved to Clarksville in 1988, the successful businessman saw how important APSU was to the entire community.

O’Malley came to Clarksville to work for Wendy’s of Bowling Green—a franchise operating 18 restaurants. In 1990, he became a partner in the business and helped it grow to 56 Wendy’s restaurants in four states. He was inducted into the Wendy’s Hall of Fame in 2010, and he became CEO and senior partner of Wendy’s of Bowling Green in 2012. The company has been the recipient of all of Wendy’s major awards, including the prestigious Founders Award, given to the top franchisee in the system.

During this impressive business career, O’Malley found time to support APSU in a number of capacities. He served as past chairman of the Austin Peay Foundation, a member of the Tower Club and a member of the APSU Red Coat Society. He is a long time APSU Athletic Department supporter and corporate sponsor of the Wendy’s Golf Tournament, benefiting the APSU golf program.

O’Malley has served Clarksville in numerous capacities, and in 2006, he was presented with the William O. Beach Citizen of the Year Award. He currently serves on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Board.


Nell Rayburn, Ph.D. (Term expires in 2019)

Nell Rayburn, Ph.DDr. Nell Rayburn is a professor in the APSU Department of Mathematics and Statistics, having served on the faculty since 1988. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb University and a Master of Science and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining the APSU faculty, she was an instructor in mathematics at Aquinas Junior College in Nashville. 

At Austin Peay, Rayburn has been active in curriculum development, and she served as Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics from 2010-2014. She recently served as co-principal investigator for a $587,150 National Science Foundation grant that sought to increase the number of regional community college graduates and active duty military personnel, veterans and dependents enrolling in and completing a STEM baccalaureate degree.

Rayburn is a National Center for Academic Transformation Redesign Scholar, and in 2012, she delivered a talk, “College Completion: A Focus on Transforming Mathematics Remediation,” at the University System of Georgia’s Redesign Conference. She also led a redesign team that revamped her department’s general education core course designed for students majoring in the arts and humanities.

Rayburn has received numerous awards while at Austin Peay, including the APSU Award for Excellence in Academic Advising, the Socrates Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Faculty Distinguished Community Service Award and the Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award. In the fall 2016, the APSU faculty selected her to serve as Austin Peay’s first faculty representative on the University’s Board of Trustees.