Forsyth Tech ahas announced that Dr. Rachel M. Desmarais has been promoted to the newly created position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer following a nationwide search. Desmarais, who assumed her new position on July 1, 2015, has oversight responsibilities for the college’s leadership team as well as day-to-day operations of the college. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Instructional Design & Technology from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.
Desmarais has worked at Forsyth Tech for the past 13 years. In 2002, she was hired as department chair of the Thomas H. Davis iTec Center, providing student instruction and managing the college’s Information Technology programs.
In 2008, she was promoted to vice president of Information Services with the distinction of becoming the college’s first Chief Information Officer. In 2010, her role was expanded to include college strategic and annual planning and college-wide assessment, becoming the vice president of Planning and Information Services.
“I am honored and excited at being selected Forsyth Tech’s new EVP and COO,” says Desmarais. “I look forward to helping facilitate increased internal coordination between departments and overseeing further development of cross-divisional initiatives. My goal is to help identify new ways of providing our students with an even greater degree of quality education and support.”
Demarais herself is a product of the community college system. Not long after graduating from Mars Hill University 1992 with a degree in music, Desmarais enrolled in computer classes at Forsyth Tech, which launched her career in information technology.
“I realized fairly early on that my four-year degree wasn’t enough—it didn’t provide me with the real-life job skills I needed to develop a stable and financially secure career path,” she says. “I understand first-hand the value of a community college education.”
“Rachel emerged as our new Chief Operating Officer as a result of a rigorous search process,” says Forsyth Tech President Gary Green. “Having someone with deep internal knowledge of the college step into this role is a big asset. It will allow us to more quickly focus on opportunities for change that will broaden the high-quality education and training opportunities we offer our students.”
Desmarais remains connected to her musical roots despite demanding job responsibilities. A second soprano, she is a member of the Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers, a choral group based in Asheville, NC, that performs music of all styles and periods across the Carolinas, including the annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC.