Pellissippi State Community College has decided it willnot hold an in-person Commencement ceremony this August for its spring and summer graduates as was hoped. With the increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, the college decided it was notsafe to move forward with the specially scheduled ceremony.
“When we postponed our May Commencement, I was hopeful that we would be able to hold the ceremony in August,” said President L. Anthony Wise Jr.
The Knox County Health Department reported 91 new positive COVID-19 cases Thursday. Federal officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies visited Knoxville last week after declaring the area a hotspot for the coronavirus.
Pellissippi State’s summer graduates will be notified by postcard when their diplomas are available for pick up, and the collegealso will offer all 2020 graduates photo opportunities on campus when it is safe to do so, Wise said.
Spring and summer graduates will be allowed to walk in the college’s next Commencement ceremony as well.
“We are so proud of the diligence and resilience our 2020 graduates have shown, completing their associate degrees under what have been the most unusual and stressful circumstances in the 46-year history of our college,” Wise said. “Pellissippi State is a family, and we want to celebrate with our graduates who have worked so hard to reach this milestone. But, like with our individual families, the health and safety of our Pellissippi State community is our top priority.”
Pellissippi State Business and Community Services is offering a new Welding for Artists class this summer, taught by a graduate whoused herWelding Technology degree to start a creative business.
Liz Headrick, Class of 2017, is teaching the noncredit Welding for Artists twice this summer: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, July 18, and Saturday, July 25, at Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus, 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike, Knoxville.
As a lifelong learning class, Welding for Artistsis open to the public, though some welding knowledge and beginner experience is recommended. The cost is $89.
“I hope people taking the class will get a cool experience and the opportunity to create something they never would have thought about previously or never had the equipment to make,” Headrick said. “Everyone will get to create a one-of-a-kind piece they can take home and show off.”
Headrick discovered her interest in welding at just the right time. Shortly after taking a welding class at a community college in California, Headrick moved to Knoxville and enrolled in the newly formed Welding Technology program at Pellissippi State.
“My husband bought me a welder as a graduation present,” Headrick noted. “At first, I didn’t have anything that needed welding, so I just took random nuts and bolts lying around the garage as an excuse to do something with it, and it stuck.”
When Headrick began posting photos of her work on Facebook and Instagram three years ago, people started to reach out to her, wanting her to make custom pieces for them. That’s when Headrick’s business, Fabuliz Fabrication and Welding,took off.
“It’s almost to the point now where my full-time job gets in the way of being at home making creative pieces,” she joked.
Using recycled scrap metal has always been a part of Headrick’s work. She repurposes materials — nuts and bolts, old saw blades, chains, spark plugs and more — to create one-of-a-kind metal art and décor.
“I like finding materials that people were throwing away or areconsidered as junk and using those materials to make something interesting or something you wouldn’t have thought to use it for,” Headrick said. “People throw away so much! I’m able to find a lot of materials from yard sales and eBay.”
To register for Welding for Artists or any other Pellissippi State lifelong learning classes this summer, contact the Business and Community Services office at 865.539.7167 or visit www.pstcc.edu/bcs.
Lifelong learning classes are following new safety precautions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Masks or face coverings must be worn by all instructors and students for the duration of the class. Classes also are being held in larger classrooms to ensure that participants can maintain 6 feet of distance between each other.
Pellissippi State Community College has recognized Curt Maxey of Curt Maxey Technologies as its Distinguished Alumni Award winner for 2020.
The award, sponsored this year by FirstBank, is given to an individual in recognition of significant professional achievement, service to the community and support of the college and the Pellissippi State Foundation.
FirstBank also is the presenting sponsor for the college’s 2020 Alumni Program.
“We’re happy to be partnering with Pellissippi State to support the great work this school is doing in our community,” said FirstBank Knoxville Market President Brent Ball, who announced the award in a video. “As a longtime resident of East Tennessee, I know how important Pellissippi State is to residents of this area, and we’re proud to contribute to their alumni and students’ success.”
Maxey, who retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2015, was the first in his family to go to college. Maxey worked his way through school, first as a janitor for restaurants and later as an electronics technician, graduating with his Associate of Engineering Technologyin 1979.
“When I stepped onto Pellissippi State’s ‘State Tech’ campus on Liberty Street in 1976, I was a fun-loving young man fresh out of high school with a life-long passion for science, but little sense of academic direction,” Maxey said. “I could not have foreseen what that education would enable me to achieve as I worked with industry, joined a National Laboratory, completed my engineering degree and worked on programs of international significance.
“At this stage of my life and career, I am pleased to be a very ordinary man who has been privileged to make some extraordinary contributions,” he added. “There is no question that I am where I am in 2020 because Pellissippi State was where it was in 1976.”
Maxey started his career at Philips Consumer Electronics, where he met his wife, Helene, before moving on to ORNL while finishing his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. As a longtime research and development staff engineer, Maxey was awarded 15 patents andearned multiple awards of national and international significance, including three R&D100 awards, DOE’s Outstanding Mentor Award, ORNL’s Inventor of The Year and multiple technology transfer awards.Maxey also served as the lead technical consultant for the West Tennessee Solar Farm near Memphis.
Since his retirement, Maxey has started a consulting business, where he works with clients in the chemical processing, nuclear power, automotive, advanced materials and textiles industries.
Despite his lengthy list of professional accolades, Maxey insists that hisgreatest achievement of his career was the opportunity to mentor students.
“I have 15 patents, but would be hard pressed to name three; by contrast, I can tell you the name of every student I trained and, for most, I can to this day tell you where they are geographically and within their careers,” Maxey said.
Recognizing the important role Pellissippi State has played in their lives, Mr. and Mrs. Maxey set up a scholarship at Pellissippi State in 2018 to help others realize their dreams as well.The Curt and Helene Maxey Scholarship recognizes that, regardless of grade point average, there are many students who will go on to accomplish great things if they are given encouragement and assistance.
“The Foundation is pleased to support the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor presented to an alumnus of the college,” said Britney Sink, director of Alumni and Donor Engagement. “Curt Maxey is a perfect example of a Pellissippi State graduate making significant contributions to his profession, community and the lives of others.”
For more information about Pellissippi State Alumni, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni or call 865.539.7275.
Pellissippi State Community College was made aware today that a Pellissippi State employee has tested positive for COVID-19.
The employee was on campus Friday, June 26, at which time the employee was not showing any symptoms. The employee was on the second floor of the Goins Administration Building and in the Facilities reception area on the Hardin Valley Campus.
The College has consulted with the Knox County Health Department and is following its recommendations. Pellissippi State has blocked off the areas for cleaning by its Facilities staff, and the College has notified all the people who were in extended contact with the employee on campus.
The Health Department has deemed this a low-risk exposure. The employee wore a mask and practiced social distancing while on campus. Because the virus only lives seven days on surfaces and the areas the employee visited will be cleaned, the Hardin Valley Campus will reopen to the limited number of employees and students who have appointments on Monday, July 6, as scheduled.
At the end of what may have been the strangest semester in the college’s 45-year history, Pellissippi State Community College honored outstanding members of its faculty and staff with a virtual awards ceremony.
“We made it through because we had essential employees on campus and essential employees off campus doing whatever needed to be done to support the college, support the community and, most importantly, to support our students,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., in a segment of the ceremonyrecorded from his home. “We are Pellissippi Strong.”
This year’s Roger Crowe Excellence in Teaching Award went to Kathleen Affholter, a full-time professor for physical and environmental sciences. Affholter, whose students call her “Special K,” has a passion for geology that she passes along to her students through hands-on learning such as conducting experiments at nearby Cherokee Caverns and exploring the great outdoor classrooms found throughout East Tennessee. Affholter has been using experiential learning her entire teaching career, as her main goal is to teach students how to solve real-world problems using scientific data.
Pellissippi State’s Innovations Award, established by former Pellissippi State President Allen Edwards, recognizes the demonstrated success of creative and original instructional and learning support activities at the college. This year’s award went to the team of Professor Minoo Askari, ProfessorSusan McMahon, Laboratory TechnicianKristen Kover, Instructional Media Technician Leslie Owle and Instructional Media Technician Gary Hinshaw, who createdan online accessible microbiology lab manual. More than 789 hours were devoted to the creation of these resources – written exercises, videos and assessments – and grades improved significantly after students began using these tools. This unique resource is free to all microbiology students, who previously had to purchase the manual.
The Gene Joyce Visionary Award recognizes Pellissippi State employees who make positive differences in the community through leadership, technologically oriented projects and/or other community involvement. This year’s recipient, Instructor Cristina Carbajo,serves as the program coordinator for Pellissippi State’s Water Quality Technology program, the first of its kind in Tennessee. This program, which was funded by a National Science Foundation grant, addresses a major employment crisis, with 50% of the workforce set to retire within the next five years and more than 75% of certified operators older than 45. Carbajocollaborated with local utility districts to get their advice before creating, on her own,course materials and hands-on laboratory experiences designed to prepare students for the workforce.
Jennifer Cozart, a career specialist for the Universal Pathways to Employment Program, took home the Staff Excellence Award. Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, UPEP assists students with disabilities to obtain education credentials and employment after graduation. Cozart’s hard work has brought Pellissippi State recognition at the national and international level by The Zero Project, which recognized UPEP with its 2020 Innovative Policy Award for UPEP’s promising outcomes in integrating academics and career services to increase college graduation rates and job placement for students with disabilities.
The winners of these four awards, sponsored by the Pellissippi State Foundation, receive $1,000, a plaque and a medallion.They are chosen by the Employee Awards Committee and a committee comprised of three members of the Foundation Board of Trustees.
Meanwhile, winners of the Outstanding Employee Awards receive $100 and a plaque. The Outstanding Employee Award winners for 2020 include:
The Adjunct Appreciation Award and Nina McPherson Award are chosen by the college’s Faculty Senate, while the Outstanding Employee Awards are chosen by popular vote of Pellissippi State faculty and staff.
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.
Elizabeth Ross, director of talent management at Pellissippi State Community College, is one of 12 College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) members selected to participate in the 2020-21 CUPA-HR Wildfire program, a 12-month leadership development experience designed for early-career higher education human resources professionals.
This year’s program received more than 120 applications. Participants were selected based on their HR strengths and areas for development identified on the program application as well as their interest in and commitment to the program.
“With a background in training and organizational development in the private sector, I am excited about joining the 2020-2021 CUPA-HR Wildfire program to usher me into the world of higher education,” said Ross, who joined Pellissippi State in January. “While I am tasked with allocating professional development resources for others at Pellissippi State, this program will provide me learning and network opportunities to ensure my growth is just as important. I am looking forward to the connections I will make in this program, knowing it will strengthen me in my role at Pellissippi State.”
Ross and the other CUPA-HR Wildfire program participants will develop their professional skills through tailored learning experiences including mentorship, learning events and courses, and the completion of a year-end project highlighting the insights they gain throughout the year. CUPA-HR’s Wildfire program is made possible in part thanks to support from HigherEdJobs.
“CUPA-HR’s investment in these early-career professionals is one of the best things we do as an association,” said facilitator Mark Coldren, associate vice president for HR at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. “The Wildfire program is helping develop passionate and talented higher education HR professionals as leaders on their campuses and within our organization. I am so excited to be working with the new cohort.”
Headquartered in Knoxville, CUPA-HR offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information.
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.
Pellissippi State Community College is helping Blount Memorial Hospital nurses train to care for Covid-19 patients.
The partnership allows the Maryville hospital’s nurses to train in the Nursing simulation lab on the college’s Blount County Campus. The first training was held Wednesday, May 27.
“We have gotten together with BrianaDahl, the critical care educator for Blount Memorial, to create simulation scenarios based on actual cases to better prepare these nurses for what can come up in the hospital,” said Assistant Professor Ronda McCown, who is the lab coordinator for Pellissippi State Nursing. “A simulation lab is a safe place to learn because no one can get hurt.”
For Blount Memorial’s critical care nurses, the simulations will be a review. But for the hospital’s medical-surgical nurses, the single largest nursing specialty in the United States, the simulations will allow them to practice skills they may not had to use since they were in Nursing school.
“Learning is often experiential,” said Michelle McPherson, director of education for Blount Memorial. “This training enables us to run scenarios that maybe they’ve only come across once or twice in their career.”
As Pellissippi State continues to follow guidelines for social distancing, only seven people are allowed in the lab at one time: one ICU-surgical nurse and four medical-surgical nurses, as well asKatrenia Hill,nursing skills and simulation laboratories coordinator for Pellissippi State, and Pellissippi State Nursing Instructor Anna Wells.
“We purposely mixed the floor staff who aren’t used to dealing with ventilators and Covid-19 with our critical care unit nurses, who can serve as team leads,” McPherson explained, adding there is ample time between the 2.5-hour training sessions for a “very strict cleaning regimen.”
By the time thetraining ends, 61 Blount Memorial medical-surgical nurses will have more experience in intubation care, putting patients on a ventilator, adjusting ventilator settings, suctioning and “proning” patients, which means lying them flat on their chests.
The trainings will culminate in a mock code that allows nurses to practice what to do when a patient is declining, McCown noted.
These Covid-19 trainings, which are expected to wrap up June 17, are just the beginning of what Pellissippi State and Blount Memorial nursing staffs envision being a year-round partnership.
“We are trying to start up a nurse residency program that would meet once a month for one year,” McPherson said. “These four-hour sessions would allow us time to address things new nurses may need help with, such as mock codes and leadership training.”
This conversation with Pellissippi State actually started last fall, noted Joseph Newsome, assistant chief nursing officer for Blount Memorial – before Covid-19 pushed that training to the forefront.
“When Mr. Newsome and I met last fall and he toured our Blount County Campus, we started discussing all of the possibilities for a training partnership between the college and the hospital,” said Dean of Nursing Angela Lunsford. “Blount Memorial provides several clinical training areas for ourNursing program, and it is our hope that using the simulation lab at Pellissippi State will strengthen training for nursing students, new graduate nurses and experienced ones.”
“We are excited to send our intern nurses and our new graduate nurses to Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus to use the simulation lab to enhance their training,” he said. “I think the Covid-19 trainings and the new nurse residency program show the best of what we can do when we work together.”
For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.
Pellissippi State Community College plans to allow students to return to campus on a limited basis this fall, offering classes in four formats.
“While our top priority remains providing a safe environment for our students and employees, our goal is to continue to give students the best learning experiences we can, both inside and outside the classroom,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.
Pellissippi State will build on the convenience it historically has offered students through its five campuses and online courses by introducing new ways of learning this fall. Students will be able to choose classes taught in a variety of ways:
Online: These traditional online courses do not meet on a certain day or at a certain time, but are taught completely through Pellissippi State’s learning management system, Brightspace;
Virtual: These courses are offered online, but they use virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom to offer instruction at the times and days listed in the College’s fall schedule;
Hybrid: These courses offer part online or virtual instruction and part face-to-face instruction in a classroom, with instructors letting students know which days they will meet on campus; and
On-campus: These courses are taught in a traditional classroom, face-to-face, and will be limitedprimarily to programs that have a strong hands-on component, such as Nursing and Welding. A few general education courses will be offered on campus in the evening with smaller enrollments to allow for social distancing.
“By limiting the number of classes taught in person, we can ensurethat our students have the space necessary to practice social distancing while they are on campus,” Wise said. “We know that some students may not feel comfortable returning to campus, however, and that is why we are offering even more options for students to continue their educational journey with us.”
Pellissippi State’s data from spring 2020 shows that students‘ success rates in general education courses such as English, science, math, and history did not suffer when the college moved its classes online March 23 for the remainder of the semester.This information bolstered the recommendation from Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathy Byrd and the college’s academic deans that Pellissippi State continue to offer virtual and hybrid classes this fall.
Pellissippi State also recognizes that some students may not be returning to their universities this falland encourages local students to register for classes that will transfer to their home institutions after the coronavirus pandemic is resolved. Pellissippi State offers 50 pathways that will transfer to four-year universities in addition to its 25 programs that prepare graduates to enter the workforce in two years, all for about $2,100 per semester for a full-time student.
“We know this fall will not look like ‘business as usual’ for many of us,” Wise said. “We welcome not only those students who choose to stay home for a bit, but also those who have decided this might be the time to learn new skills and pursue a different career moving forward.”
Registration is going on now. To learn more about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.
Pellissippi State Community College has produced its first 200 transparent plastic face shields for Covenant Health, building onan earlier project that provided personal protective equipment to health care facilities throughout Tennessee.
“Once we finished our responsibility to the statewide effort spearheaded by Gov. Bill Lee, I suggested we reach out to our friends in health care to see if they also had a need for personal protective equipment,” explained Teri Brahams, executive director for economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. “It was great to offer assistance at the state level, but as a community college, it is great to be able to impact our local community as well.”
Covenant Health responded to Pellissippi State’s offer, requesting 2,000 face shields that health care professionals can wear over their masks to help protect them from infectious diseases such as Covid-19.
Moving from 3D-printing only the headbands for the face shields to producing the entire face shields took collaboration between Covenant Health’s Emily Sinkule and Pellissippi State’s Andy Polnicki, director of the MegaLab on the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus. The two worked together to find a prototype Pellissippi State could produce with the supplies the college already had on hand or could find quickly, as “a lot of these items are difficult to get (due to the pandemic),” Polnicki explained.
Pellissippi State got creative, repurposing transparencies for overhead projectorsasplastic for the face shields.
“We found about 500 usable transparencies,” Polnicki said. “We ordered more as well.”
Pellissippi State also needed to produce face shields that Covenant Health could easily store and pull out of inventory as needed, Polnicki added. That meant coming up with kits that could be stacked on shelves and assembled by health care professionals on site.
Polnicki and Pellissippi State student Matt Nidiffer, a former Knox County Schools educator who is now studying Electrical Engineering Technology, worked together in the MegaLab, printing about 50 headbands each day. Staff from Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services chipped in by helpingclean the headbands before packaging them with the other raw materials.
Pellissippi Statefinished printing and packaging the first 200 face shield kits for Covenant Health last week. Each kit includes one 3D-printed headband, two overhead transparencies, two elastics and a set of instructions for how to assemble the components into a face shield.
Even masked and gloved, the shields can be assembled and donned by health care professionals in less than a minute, Polnicki demonstrated, wearing a mask and gloves himself. Two plastic shields and two elastics were included in each kit so that those opening the kits have a backup should one of components become contaminated, he noted.
Pellissippi State now will turn its attention to creating similar packets for the college’s Nursing students to use in labs this summer and fall, but then will resume fulfilling Covenant Health’s order of 2,000 face shields, as health care facilities prepare for whatever the coronavirus pandemic may bring this fall.
“This is still a large project, but we are not under the same deadlines (as when the pandemic started),” Polnicki explained. “We have our 3D printers running at half capacity, which allows us to make about 250 headbands for face shields each week, but we could ramp up to full capacity if we need to.”
A representative from Covenant Health picked up the first 200 masks Thursday, May 21.
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.eduor call 865-694-6400.
Pellissippi State Community College announced Friday a multi-stage plan for a slow, limited return to campus following the coronavirus pandemic that closed the college to all but essential personnel this spring.
While one of Pellissippi State’s campuses is located in Blount County, Pellissippi State has adopted the guidance for Knox County as released by the Knox County Health Department for all five Pellissippi State campuses. The college’s plan also incorporatesadditional guidance from the Tennessee Board of Regents, the American College Health Association and the Centers for Disease Control.
“Our first priority is the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.“As we return to campus, we will do so in a manner that follows the best guidance of local, state and federal authorities. Within that frame, we will work to create the kind of engaged academic and student experience members of our community have come to expect.”
Pellissippi State’s first stage starts Monday, May 4, but only allows limited access to two campuses: Hardin Valley and Strawberry Plains.
Those campuses will be open to those classes necessary for students to finish coursework that must be done on campus – skills assessment and project completion – during finals week. These labs in career programs such as Welding Technology, Engineering and Nursingwill not be operating at full capacity, in keeping with social distancing guidelines of leaving at least 6 feet of space between individuals and 10 or fewer people in one room. For that reason, an entire class may not be able to work or test at the same time.
Stage 1 also allows employees who have been working remotely to access their offices, by appointment only, to retrieve items they need.
While on campus, everyone must wear a mask at all timesand follow social distancing guidelines. Anyone who has been exhibiting any of the symptoms of Covid-19 as outlined by the CDC should not report to campus. All employees are asked to take their temperatures before reporting to campus, and students who report for labs will be asked three screening questions provided by the Knox County Health Department before they are allowed to enter campus buildings:
Have you been told to quarantine/isolate by a medical provider or the health department?
Have you had face-to-face contact for 10 or more minutes with someone who has Covid-19?
Are you feeling ill and/or experiencing any of the symptoms of Covid-19?
Stage 2 is scheduled to start May 29 and opens Blount County and Magnolia Avenue campuses to essential employees.The college’s Division Street Campus will remain closed throughout summer, as in previous summers.
Future stages will be announced at a later date.
Pellissippi State previously announced that all summer courses will move online, with limited in-person instruction in the second summer term for lab sections.
For more information about Pellissippi State’s coronavirus response, including an archive of the college’s daily updates to faculty, staff and students, visit www.pstcc.edu/coronavirus.