COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The NJCAA – the governing body of two-year college athletics based in Colorado Springs, Colorado – has announced the hiring of Dr. Christopher J. Parker as its new executive director beginning July 17, 2017. Parker will replace Mary Ellen Leicht, who announced in August of 2016 that the 2016-17 NJCAA season would be her last after 28 years of service to the association.
“During our 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 Executive Committee looks forward to starting this new NJCAA era with Dr. Parker.”
Parker has valuable experience in two-year collegiate athletics. In 2006 he was hired as the first-ever athletic director at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia, and led the institution to being the first community college in the Commonwealth of 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 his departure in December 2015. Parker was named the Under Armour Southeast Athletic Director of the Year in 2010-11.
In addition to his responsibilities at Patrick Henry, Parker served as the assistant director and director of NJCAA Region 10 for seven years. He also helped guide an additional eight Virginia community colleges into membership with the NJCAA – serving as a direct consultant for five institutions in establishing their athletic programs.
"I am humbled and honored to serve as the next NJCAA Executive Director,” said Parker. “I want to personally thank the executive committee for entrusting me with this opportunity. In addition, I want to thank Mary Ellen Leicht and the staff at the national office for their leadership and excellence over the past few decades. I have huge shoes to fill and we will continue to progress forward."
During his 10-year stint with Patrick Henry, Parker rose through the ranks and served the positions of Assistant Dean for Academics and Dean of Academics before taking on the duties of Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Campus Life, and Athletics. In addition to that role, he was also the Executive Director of the PHCC Foundation and Real Estate Foundation.
Dr. Angeline Godwin, current President of Patrick Henry, praised the hire, “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. As a member-institution president, I have always appreciated what NJCAA means to our college. We are 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, a position which he has held since January 2016. Parker is responsible for all levels of academic entrance into the university, which consists of traditional undergraduate students, online undergraduate transfer students, and graduate students. During his time at Pfeiffer, he has led the college to significant growth in new incoming undergraduate students. After drawing the largest incoming class in nearly 30 years, the institution is projected to have an enrollment increase of nearly 50 percent compared to 2014-15.
When he begins his post in July, Parker will become just the fourth chief executive of the NJCAA since its founding in 1938. George E. Killian was the association’s first executive director, serving from 1968-2004 followed by Wayne Baker (2004-09) and Mary Ellen Leicht (2009-17).