Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs began her tenure as the 13th president of LeMoyne-Owen College on January 5, 2021. Dr. Bennett-Fairs is the second woman chosen to lead the only historically black college in Memphis, TN.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs’ career spans 26 years in higher education. She is a trained vocalist and orator who has served as an associate professor and college administrator. However, her most cherished role is that of student advocate. Previously, Dr. Bennett-Fairs served as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Delta State University.
During her tenure at DSU, Dr. Bennett-Fairs founded the Okra Patch, an engagement initiative for the entire University community. Dr. Bennett-Fairs transformed DSU’s Office of Admissions’ recruitment operations and marketing. Her all-hands-on-deck approach to recruitment fostered successful collaborations across the campus and community.
A native of Lorain, Ohio, Dr. Bennett-Fairs began her postsecondary career at Kentucky State University as a non-tenure tract Instructor of Music. Dr. Bennett-Fairs’ career spanned 20 years at KSU where her final role was as the Vice President for Student Affairs.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs is a former Who’s Who among College and University Professors. She was recently recognized by the Memphis Business Journal as a 2021 Super Woman in Business. Dr. Bennett-Fairs is currently a protégé in the 2020-2021 cohort of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI). She is also a member of AASCU’s 2021 New President’s Academy (NPA) cohort. and is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Higher Education Leadership Foundation and the United Negro College Fund’s Presidential Leadership Institute. Of all her accolades, her most prized honors are those bestowed upon her by the students, which include KSU Girls Rock, Woman of the Year, the SGA Award of Accomplishment, and an Emerald Award of Excellence for Top Female Administrator.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs is an alum of the Executive Leadership Summit, the Hawkins-Scott Leadership Institute, Leadership Kentucky, and Leadership Mississippi. Dr. Bennett-Fairs is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and the Memphis Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, as well as the Rotary Club.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Fisk University, a Master of Arts in Vocal Performance from Eastern Michigan University, and a Doctor of Education in Administration and Instruction from the University of Kentucky.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs is married to Patric Fairs and has one adult son, Jeffery.