Dr. Henry “Chip” Quisenberry, director of student financial aid at Enterprise State Community College is retiring after 35 years at the college and 40 years in the Alabama Community College System.
“Dr. Quisenberry is one of the finest men I know,” said ESCC President Matt Rodgers. “He has helped thousands of students through the financial aid process. He is really what makes ESCC special. Dr. Q has always put the students and the college first. He has remained loyal and true. I can't think of a better ambassador for Enterprise State than Chip Quisenberry. He will always be a huge part of the ESCC family. Congratulations to Chip on a job well done."
Quisenberry holds the distinction of working under every president of ESCC in some capacity.
He first attended Enterprise State Junior College, ESCC’s original name, in 1972 and would return as an intern under President Benjamin Abb Forrester. The next president, Dr. Joseph Talmadge, asked Quisenberry to come to the school in 1984 where he has stayed for 35 years.
Quisenberry is best known for his role in the financial aid field, but he actually graduated Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in forestry.
He worked in the forestry field in Macon, Ga., and in the Auburn area after graduating from college.
“I worked in forestry for a while, but I just missed being around people,” Quisenberry said.
“I wasn’t satisfied—I wasn’t really happy with my situation so I did a lot of praying about it, and I talked to a lot of people that knew me and sought advice from trusted friends. I was thinking about going into counseling and they encouraged me.”
Quisenberry returned to Auburn to earn his master’s in counseling. While working as a graduate assistant in the financial aid office at Auburn, Quisenberry feel in love with what he does now.
“I really enjoyed that and enjoyed that work, it’s what led me down this path,” Quisenberry said.
He earned his master’s degree in college student development at Auburn with his work in the financial aid office leading to a job at Bessemer State Technical College. After several years at Bessemer, Talmadge asked him to come to ESCC, still known as ESJC, which he happily accepted.
“Enterprise is home to me,” Quisenberry said. “I graduated from Enterprise High School, then went here (ESCC). After ten years I was fortunate enough to be able to come back home to work at Enterprise State Junior College.”
Working at ESCC convinced Quisenberry to pursue his doctorate in education, which he obtained from the University of Alabama.
“I saw Dr. Talmadge go out after he was hired here on his time and his nickel earn a doctorate in administration,” Quisenberry said. “I saw Dr. Tommy Guthrie—who was the dean of the college—go to Mississippi State and earn his doctorate, I saw Dr. (David) Chalker and Dr. Joan Newman and others do the same thing. I saw all these folks go out and earn terminal degrees because if you’re at Enterprise (State Community College) that’s just what you do. We’re leaders so we want to have the credentials to back up that mentality. So I did that because that’s what was modeled for me and I have tried to model that for others.”
One portion of his tenure at ESCC that sticks out to him is the time from 2007-2010 when the campus hosted EHS after the tornado struck the school.
“It was a special time—a historic time,” Quisenberry said. “I am so thankful that I was able be here at that time. I can always point back and say, ‘I was there when that happened and I helped the high school and the college get through that time.’”
The entirety of Quisenberry’s son’s, Jonathan, high school career took place at ESCC during this time. It was also during this time that current president Matt Rodgers was assistant principal at EHS. Quisenberry and Rodgers’ offices were adjoined, which is how the two first got to know each other.
Over the years, Quisenberry has seen the effect financial aid can have on students and families.
“We’ve—it’s not just me, it’s the team we have here—been able to help a lot of students. Working together, we’ve been able to change lives. If you take a student who has little hope—they’ve never had anything, their family’s never had anything and maybe they’re a first generation college student—and you help them get a degree, it not only changes their lives but it can change the trajectory of an entire family for generations,” Quisenberry said.
He said that he’s been working so long that he’s actually giving out scholarships to the kids of students he has helped in the past.
“I was in Geneva County last year presenting scholarships and saw a former student. I said, “I know you,’” Quisenberry said. “She gave me her name and I said, ‘I remember when you were a student at college,’ and she said, ‘Yeah, well I’m teaching here now.’ Well, her daughter is one of the students that’s getting a scholarship this year so if you live long enough and stick with it long enough those kinds of things happen.”
He said that seeing the fruits of his—and the team’s—labor is always a great feeling.
“It just gives me a good feeling in my heart to know that the work that you did was important to somebody,” Quisenberry said.
He discussed the moment that he realized he wanted to retire.
“I was not interesting in retiring, I could have retired a while ago,” Quisenberry said. “But something in me said, ‘Wait.’ Maybe it’s just hesitance—just a resistance to change—I don’t know, but I feel like now that I can retire and feel like I’m leaving the work and the college in as good shape or better than when I got here.”
The original plan was to retire on June 1, at the end of the school year, but Quisenberry said that the administrators at the Teachers Retirement System told him that if he waited until Aug. 1, he would have 40 years in the system.
Quisenberry decided to wait until Aug. 1 to officially retire, but says he will return to ESCC in a part-time contract-work capacity.
He said that out of all the work he’s done for the college over the years wouldn’t have been possible without his wife, Cindy Quisenberry.
“I also have to say how thankful I am to have had the loving support of my wife, Cindy,” Quisenberry said. “She has always encouraged me, supported me, and modeled for me what hard work looks like. Much of the credit for what I have accomplished should go to her.”
He said that he’s excited for the future of the college.
“The future for Enterprise State Community College is very bright,” Quisenberry said. “We have a committed leadership team who is passionate about taking this place just as far as we can possibly go. The faculty and staff are following that leadership, and I’m just thankful that I have been able to play a part in the life of the College.”