Council on Occupational Education Taps Nooks as Next President, CEO

March 21, 2023

For Immediate Release

Press Contact: Gary Puckett

(770) 396-3898




Council on Occupational Education Taps Nooks as Next President, CEO


ATLANTA, March 21, 2023 – The Council on Occupational Education (COE) has named Dr. Kirk A. Nooks as its next President and Chief Executive Officer. The 19-member commission voted to appoint Nooks following a nationwide search.


“After a national search, the Commission is excited that Dr. Nooks has agreed to lead our organization as our next President. Dr. Nooks brings a breadth and depth of knowledge of the higher education landscape that is directly relevant to our mission at COE: Ensuring quality and integrity in career and technical education,” said Dr. Jeff Sisk, COE chair.


The COE has been in existence for over 50 years and is one of the five national career-related accreditation agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education.


“It is an honor to be selected as the next President and CEO for the Council on Occupational Education. I am grateful to the members of the Commission for their support of this appointment. It is equally exciting to work with the talented professionals at the Council and join them for the next chapter in the organization’s history,” Nooks said.


Nooks will succeed Dr. Gary Puckett who is retiring from COE capping a 20-year career.


“Dr. Nooks comes to the Council with an impressive academic background in higher education and engineering well suited for the agency’s president. His professional experience and accreditation involvement will position him for an expedited assimilation in this special field. I look forward to working with him in the transition,” Puckett said.


The national accrediting organization has over 500 members across 44 states and Washington, D.C. The members include public technical colleges, private career colleges, registered apprenticeship schools and federal institutions including Army, Navy, and Department of Defense institutions.


Nooks comes to the Council with over 25 years of public and private experience. His last ten years have included two stints as college president. His accreditation experience spans both national and regional accreditors to include the Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. During Nooks’ recent tenure at Gordon State College, the institution realized recent gains in student enrollment, fundraising and credential attainment. The college also expanded partnerships aimed at addressing credential shortage within the workforce.


“The conversation about credentials is a critical component to remaining competitive in the talent race. The national approach to reach the 2025 goal must include a broader strategy which includes both traditional and non-traditional credential providers. The Council on Occupational Education sits at a unique juncture to be a voice and leader in that conversation,” Nooks said.


The Council will be outlining an ambitious plan in the coming months to increase its positioning with respect to the quality of workforce education.


“We look forward to working with Dr. Nooks as we not only engage in our work of accreditation, but also become thought partners in broader conversations regarding credentialing and workforce development,” Sisk said.


Nooks holds a doctoral degree in higher education administration from The George Washington University with an MBA in marketing and B.S. in industrial management from Mercer University. The transition in leadership will take place in May 2023.




The Council on Occupational Education is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a reliable authority on the quality of education offered by the institutions it has accredited. Its current scope of recognition is as a national institutional accrediting agency for the accreditation of over 500 non-degree-granting and applied associate degree-granting postsecondary occupational education institutions.