Pellissippi State names new Blount County building in honor of Ruth and Steve West

Steve and Ruth West
Steve and Ruth West attend the Big Reveal on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on Feb. 1, 2019. Pellissippi State announced at the event that it would build two new buildings, one of which is being named for the couple.

Pellissippi State Community College’s new building on its Blount County Campus will be christened the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center.

“Ruth and Steve West have been longtime supporters of Pellissippi State’s mission to educate and provide vital workforce development,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “Their generous spirit has made a lasting impact on the college and the Blount County community. We are honored that the new Workforce Development Center will bear their name.”

The Tennessee Board of Regents, which governs 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges across the state, approved the name request at its quarterly meeting June 21.

“It is an honor,” Steve West said Thursday. “We’ve been involved with Pellissippi State for a long time here in Blount County, and Ruth served on the Pellissippi State Foundation board for some time.”

The Wests’ donation to The Campaign for Pellissippi State will help build the new Workforce Development Center, a $16.5 million project. The 53,000-square-foot building will be used by Pellissippi State and Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville to help fill the area’s need for highly skilled, college-educated employees.

“I was on the Blount County Industrial Board for 20 years, and we brought a lot of diverse companies in and continue to do so,” said West, who also served as mayor of Maryville from 1999 to 2003. “But it’s not like it was when I was young. A good attitude and willingness to learn is not enough. We need more specialized training to fill these jobs.”

Pellissippi State’s part of the new building is expected to house a Smart Factory MegaLab featuring Industry 4.0 curriculum and offer classes in Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts, Electrical Engineering Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology.

Meanwhile, TCAT’s part of the new building is expected to include classes in Industrial Electrical Maintenance and Welding, Machine Tool Technology and Pipe Fitting.

Ruth and Steve West seated in an auditorium, laughing
Ruth West, in red, and Steve West, beside her, laugh with others at the Big Reveal on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on Feb. 1, 2019.

West said he expects “the depth and breadth” of the programs offered in the Workforce Development Center to help the community in more than one way.

“I look at people my age, and their kids had to move away for jobs, and now their grandkids are all over the country,” he said. “Plus, kids are coming out of college with $30,000 in debt and a nonstarter for a career, whereas the kids in our Pellissippi State welding program, for example, can get a job in any city in any state and be making good money. We need to be talking to our young people and letting them know that these two-year programs Pellissippi State offers are smart options.”

Pellissippi State expects to break ground on the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center later this year and open the building to students in fall 2021.

In the meantime, the Pellissippi State Foundation has raised $9.3 million of its $10 million goal to build not only the Workforce Development Center on the Blount County Campus, but also the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus. The campaign also will expand Pellissippi State’s Media Technologies program and support funds that help students and faculty.

For more information about The Campaign for Pellissippi State or to make a donation, visit