State Board of Education Elects New Officers

Tuesday, February 21, 2023 | 12:00am

Media Contact:  Nathan James

The State Board of Education conducted its election of new officers at the Board’s quarterly meeting held February 10 in Nashville. 

Mr. Robert Eby, representing the third congressional district, was elected Chairman.  Eby was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2018 by Governor Bill Haslam and served two terms as vice-chairman. He served 16 years on the Oak Ridge Board of Education. Eby is a graduate of the University of Tennessee with degrees in Chemical Engineering. He previously served as the Plant Manager at the 4,000-person Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, as well as serving as the Executive Vice-President of Navarro Research and Engineering Company. Eby is also currently a board member for the KFI, a local organization dedicated to supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Knoxville, and is on the Global Community Fellowship Board, a missionary Board to support Mayan people.

Mr. Darrell Cobbins, representing the ninth congressional district, was elected vice-chairman. Cobbins was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2017. He is a Memphis native who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes College and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Fogelman College of Business at the University of Memphis. Cobbins is currently President of Universal Commercial Real Estate, LLC, a firm he founded in 2007. 

The Board elected outgoing chair Lillian Hartgrove as Chair Emeritus. Hartgrove served as Board chair since January 2018. She was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2014, representing the sixth congressional district, and has one year remaining in her current board term. Hartgrove served for 12 years as the Vice President of Workforce Development and Education under the Highlands Economic Partnership for the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.“She has certainly been a model for us during a time of change,” said Eby. “Her focus has always been on the student. That’s a model for me to emulate, and I hope I can in the future”In other Board news, longtime Nashville media veteran Joe Fisher has joined the State Board of Education staff as Public Information Officer. Most recently, he served as the director of News and Communications at Tennessee Tech University. Prior to that, the Nashville native served as a television sports anchor for WSMV and WKRN, a public relations account executive for Dye, Van Mol and Lawrence, as well as more than 20 years as Director of Broadcasting and play by play voice for Vanderbilt University athletics.


The Tennessee State Board of Education is a ten-member, gubernatorially and legislatively appointed board charged under the law with rulemaking and policymaking for K-12 education. Through a close partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education, the Board maintains oversight in K-12 implementation and academic standards.