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MSU’s Rowland elected president of SAEOPP

Morehead State's mission has always been to provide students in Eastern Kentucky an affordable, quality education. Tom Rowland, director of MSU’s Commonwealth Educational Opportunity Center, has helped to serve this mission for years in his career and was recently given the opportunity to serve even more students when he was elected to be the newest president of the Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (SAEOPP). 

“Morehead State is proud of the recognition that Tom received from his colleagues throughout the eight southeastern states by being elected president,” said Dan Connell, assistant vice president for MSU Regional Education and Outreach. Rowland is the third president of SAEOPP from Morehead State University. Dr. Wanda Bigham (1983-85) and Dr. Dan Connell (1995-97) served previously as SAEOPP presidents. 

Rowland has served for 14 years in his current position with MSU’s Commonwealth Educational Opportunity Center, which is dedicated to increasing the educational attainment level and college attendance rate of adults in our 36-county Eastern Kentucky target area. Prior to being elected as SAEOPP’s 21st president this past February, Rowland served as both vice president and treasurer. He is also the past president of the Kentucky Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (KAEOPP) and a member of the board of directors of the Council for Opportunity in Education, where he is co-chair of the International Access Committee. 

Rowland said in his two-year term, he wants to establish a foundation for SAEOPP to expand opportunities or scholarships and other awards. He said the organization is also in the initial stages of creating a rewards-based program for members. But more than anything, Rowland wants to advance what he feels like is the notable and rewarding mission of the organization he now leads. 

“Serving low-income, first-generation people, a lot of them don’t have the necessary knowledge to navigate to college and through college,” he said.  “It was always gratifying when you met someone on campus that was about to graduate and how thankful they were for the help. You’re not only changing that person’s life - you’re changing the trajectory of that person’s whole family’s life for generations to come.” 

SAEOPP is a nonprofit organization of eight states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee) whose members are involved in equal educational opportunity while advancing the ideals of student access, persistence and completion of postsecondary education. SAEOPP is dedicated to supporting college access and success professionals (TRiO), which offers professional development, education and activism for students who are low-income, first-generation or those with disabilities. 

For more information on MSU’s Commonwealth Educational Opportunity Center, call 606-783-2063, email or visit