Pellissippi State expands with new buildings planned for Hardin Valley and Blount County campuses

Artist rendering of new science and math building
Pellissippi State plans to break ground on a new science and math building on its Hardin Valley Campus this spring and open it for classes in fall 2021.

Pellissippi State Community College has announced today its largest expansion in 44 years.

Pellissippi State, the largest community college in Tennessee with 10,894 students, announced plans to build a science and math building on its Hardin Valley Campus in Knoxville and a workforce development center on its Blount County Campus in Friendsville.

“Today is a historic day at Pellissippi State,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “Never before have we had two capital projects occurring simultaneously. Never before have we set a $10 million fundraising goal. And never before have we engaged so many volunteers in the process.”

The new 82,000-square-foot science and math building will help Pellissippi State meet demands for classrooms and lab spaces that have increased due to Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, last-dollar scholarships offered to high school seniors and adults without college degrees, respectively.

“Pellissippi State’s general biology lab is in use for 12 hours a day, five days a week, with most labs at full capacity,” said Kane Barker, dean of Natural & Behavioral Sciences. “Many students need this course and other math and science classes in order to graduate on time. This new building will double the capacity for many of our core courses.”

Meanwhile, Blount County has experienced $2.8 billion in new capital investment and announced 5,500 new jobs since 2011, according to the Blount Partnership. Pellissippi State’s new 62,000-square-foot workforce development center will help fill the area’s need for highly skilled, college-educated employees.

“This new building will allow us to expand our Engineering Technology, Computer Information Technology and Culinary Arts associate degree programs and certificates,” said Teri Brahams, executive director for Economic and Workforce Development for Pellissippi State. “We would not be here today without DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee’s commitment to expansion and employment in Blount County and their advocacy on behalf of manufacturing in our state.”

Pellissippi State plans to break ground on the new science and math building this spring and open it in fall 2021. The college plans to break ground on the workforce development center in December 2019, and classes will start there in fall 2021.

The total project cost for the construction of the new science and math building is $27 million while the total project cost for the construction of the workforce development center is $16.5 million.

Pellissippi State is responsible for $2.7 million for the new science and math building, which is primarily funded by the state, and $5.5 million for the workforce development center, which also is being funded by the state and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville, which will occupy part of the building.

Other funding priorities announced Friday include $800,000 to expand Pellissippi State’s Media Technology program, specifically the Audio Production Engineering concentration, as well as $1 million to help support students through scholarships and emergency assistance and to help faculty through funding individual departments and programs, professional development opportunities and new equipment and technology updates.

Part of Friday’s announcement was that the Pellissippi State Foundation already has raised $8 million of its $10 million goal, thanks to significant contributions from donors such as the Haslam Family Foundation; Ruth and Steve West; Blount County, the City of Maryville and the City of Alcoa in partnership with the Industrial Development Board; Pilot Flying J; Arconic Foundation; Clayton Family Foundation; Clayton Homes Inc.; UT-Battelle; DENSO North America Foundation; Oak Ridge Associated Universities; UCOR, an AECOM-led partnership with Jacobs; William Ed Harmon; and the Thompson Charitable Foundation.

For more information about the Pellissippi State’s two new buildings and the campaign to build them, visit www.pstcc.edu/campaignforpellissippistate/. To view the video shown at today’s event, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1gYaZL8Oqg&feature=youtu.be.

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

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Pellissippi State sign language students bring ‘Toy Story’-themed lessons, donate bikes to Tennessee School for the Deaf

Two students at Tennessee School for the Deaf hug Pellissippi State ASL, Please! club president Stephen Roberts after seeing the bicycles the college students donated.
Two Tennessee School for the Deaf students hug Pellissippi State ASL, Please! president Stephen Roberts after the club presented the children with bicycles on Dec. 11, 2018.

Pellissippi State Community College students brought holiday cheer – and 45 bikes – to Tennessee School for the Deaf this month, as Gay Baker’s American Sign Language classes led two days of “Toy Story”-themed activities for TSD elementary and middle schoolers.

“This is a perfect partnership,” said Sue Ivey, dean of students for TSD’s middle and high schools. “Gay’s students get real live experience with deaf students, and they always bring activities that are educational, age appropriate and fun. The students don’t even know that they’re learning!”

“This is their final project, which is why it falls during finals week,” explained Baker, who has been teaching ASL at Pellissippi State since January 1998. “It stresses team building and collaboration effort, and it exposes them to authentic experiences with deaf students.”

On Dec. 10, Pellissippi State students presented a “Toy Story”-inspired play for the TSD students; introduced them to deaf role models such as cowboy Clint Thomas, who graduated from Georgia School for the Deaf; and guided them through rodeo/carnival games inspired by the “Toy Story” character Woody, tossing toy snakes into boots and “shooting out” tin cans with Nerf guns.

Activities on Dec. 11 centered around the “Toy Story” character Buzz Lightyear and Pellissippi State’s Common Academic Experience theme of “Inner Space | Outer Space.” TSD students learned about deaf #StudentAstronaut winner Julia Velasquez, deaf NASA engineer Johanna Lucht and the deaf college students, known as the Gallaudet Eleven, who helped NASA understand the effects of gravitational changes on the human body.

Tennessee School for the Deaf students play planet Twister.
Tennessee School for the Deaf students play planet Twister in one of eight learning stations set up for them by Pellissippi State American Sign Language students on Dec. 11, 2018.

Afterwards TSD students moved through eight learning stations with games such as planet Twister and Comet Ball, a riff on Dodge Ball, and activities like playing the board game Operation while wearing space gloves or taking a turn on an inversion table to mimic the motion sickness some experience in space.

“This has been really good, really fun,” signed TSD eighth grader Lizzie Parker. “There have been lots of things to do, like tasting different kinds of space food that an astronaut would eat. I really liked it.”

Seventh grader Teya Stafford signed that she liked learning about constellations and then getting to create her own while sixth grader Shequita Morris signed that she liked learning about Mars.

“We learned how to make rockets, too,” Morris signed, indicating the propulsion station where students mixed vinegar and baking soda in plastic bottles. “I learned all about space and the different planets and black holes.”

At the end of the night, TSD students gathered outside to watch Pellissippi State students launch a small rocket, but that wasn’t the biggest surprise the college students had in store for them. Pellissippi State’s ASL, Please! club presented each residential elementary and middle school student with a bicycle to keep on the TSD campus.

“Every year they ask us what we need,” Ivey explained, noting Pellissippi State’s ASL students have provided everything from lotion, toothbrushes and toothpaste for the students to larger items such as winter coats and beanbag chairs for the student union. “This year we requested bikes because we’re starting a bike club, and when we did an inventory last spring, our bikes here are in terrible shape.”

An American Sign Language student at Pellissippi State rides in on one of the bikes the college's ASL, Please! club had donated to Tennessee School for the Deaf.
Pellissippi State’s American Sign Language students surprise Tennessee School for the Deaf students on Dec. 11, 2018, by riding in on the 45 bikes the college’s ASL, Please! club donated to TSD so that the school can start a bike club.

The ASL, Please! club gathered 45 bikes: 20 donated by Kickstand Community Bike Shop, six donated by DreamBikes and 19 donated by community members who responded to a post by a student’s mother in a neighborhood Facebook group. The Epilepsy Foundation of East Tennessee chipped in 45 helmets.

“Our club has been working really hard for you guys for this special surprise,” Baker signed to the anxiously awaiting children before the Pellissippi State students rode in on the bikes to shocked expressions and excited cheers. One TSD student jumped right up and hugged ASL, Please! President Stephen Roberts, who has been leading mission trips to a deaf village in Jamaica for four years.

“This has been amazing,” said Pellissippi State student Brandon Owens, who is majoring in interpretation. “I always think it can’t get any more fun, but it does. Interpreting was not my original major, but I just fell in love with the ASL classes and with this community.”

This was Pellissippi State student Lucille Wright’s first experience with TSD.

“This has been fascinating because I’ve never been around deaf kids before,” she said. “They are all so happy to have us and willing to help. We’re in ASL I so they actually are helping us learn.”

Sue Ivey of Tennessee School for the Deaf and Gay Baker of Pellissippi State embrace after presenting TSD students with bicycles
Sue Ivey, dean of students for Tennessee School for the Deaf’s middle and high schools, and Gay Baker, American Sign Language instructor at Pellissippi State, embrace after Pellissippi State’s American Sign Language students presented TSD students with 45 bicycles and helmets on Dec. 11, 2018.

Indeed, Baker stressed that the interaction with the deaf community is one of the most important things Pellissippi State students take away from their ASL classes.

“One of the most vital things about the final project at TSD is that it gives our ASL students exposure to one of our country’s indigenous languages as well as another culture,” she says. “ASL helps our students be aware of accessibility, equality and diversity.”

And that pays off for their futures, Ivey noted.

“A lot of Pellissippi State students have become teachers here, and some are now in administration, having worked their way up,” she said. “Pellissippi State ASL students become some of our most well-rounded employees because they understand deaf culture and the importance of the language.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. For more photos of the Dec. 11 event at TSD, see the photo gallery below. Clicking on any of the photos in this story or in the gallery will lead you to high-resolution versions that can be downloaded for your use.

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Pellissippi State welcomes displaced Virginia College students

Pellissippi State Community College wants to help Virginia College students displaced by that institution’s closing.

Education Corporation of America campuses including Brightwood College, Brightwood Career Institute, Ecotech Institute, Golf Academy of America and Virginia College will discontinue operations in December 2018, according to the ECA website.

“We understand this can feel like an insurmountable setback to Virginia College students, and we invite them to contact us to see if one of our career programs or transfer programs are right for them,” said Leigh Anne Touzeau, assistant vice president for Enrollment Services.

Pellissippi State’s 14 career programs result in associate degrees that prepare students to enter the workforce in high-demand, competitive fields including computer information technology, electrical engineering technology, engineering technology, mechanical engineering technology and media technologies.

Pellissippi State also offers transfer programs that allow students to get started in their field of choice, earn an associate degree and then transfer seamlessly to a four-year institution.

A full list of Pellissippi State programs is available at www.pstcc.edu/catalog.

Virginia College students may be eligible for Tennessee Reconnect, Touzeau added. This last-dollar scholarship for adults covers college tuition and mandatory fees that aren’t paid for through other state and federal financial aid.

Adult learners qualify for Tennessee Reconnect if they:

  • Do not have an associate or bachelor degree;
  • Have been a Tennessee resident since Aug. 1, 2017;
  • Complete the 2018-19 FAFSA;
  • Are designated as an “independent” on the FAFSA;
  • Attend and complete courses at least as a part-time student, taking a minimum of six credit hours per semester; and
  • Complete the TN Reconnect application at www.tnreconnect.gov.

“Our goal here at Pellissippi State is to help students start strong, stay strong and finish strong,” Touzeau said. “We know this is a scary time for Virginia College students, and we would love to help them continue their educational journey.”

The Admissions office is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, visit one of our campuses; check out www.pstcc.edu/admissions, where Live Chat is available for those with questions; email admissions@pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

K-12 educators invited to teaching conference keynote at Pellissippi State

Alan November
Alan November will give a keynote presentation on “Transforming the Culture of Teaching and Learning” on Jan. 11, and K-12 educators are invited.

An international leader in educational technology is coming to Pellissippi State Community College in January, and K-12 teachers are invited to attend his keynote presentation.

Alan November, named one of the nation’s 15 most influential thinkers of the decade by Tech & Learning magazine, will be at Pellissippi State for a Teaching and Learning Conference sponsored by the Pellissippi Academic Center for Excellence (PACE) and Mobile Fellows Program.

November’s keynote, “Transforming the Culture of Teaching and Learning,” will be held 8:30-10:15 a.m. Jan. 11 in the Goins Building Auditorium on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville.

“Alan November will be discussing current and past ideas circulating on using technology in the classroom,” said Pellissippi State Chemistry Assistant Professor Rachel Glazener, PACE Faculty Fellow for Mobile and Emerging Technology. “Do not let the technology aspect scare you; rather, the conference is focused on a way of thinking about how to harness technology to help our students own their learning.”

November’s keynote will explore how the design of an assignment can move students from simply regurgitating learning material to being critical thinkers and applying the learned material. He also will delve into how forming a global network can increase collaboration not only inside the classroom, but outside of the classroom as well.

“Forming a learning network can move students to become empowered in their own learning, can help the learning become visible and can expand student’s communication in their field outside of the classroom,” November said.

The keynote is free, but teachers are asked to register at http://bit.ly/pscctechconkeynote by Dec. 14 because space is limited.

For more information, contact Glazener at rlglazener@pstcc.edu. To request accommodations for a disability for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State welcomes displaced Fountainhead College students

Pellissippi State Community College wants to help Fountainhead College of Technology students displaced by that institution’s closing Wednesday.

“We understand this can feel like an insurmountable setback to Fountainhead College students, and we invite them to contact us to see if one of our career programs or transfer programs are right for them,” said Leigh Anne Touzeau, assistant vice president for Enrollment Services.

Pellissippi State’s 14 career programs result in associate degrees that prepare students to enter the workforce in high-demand, competitive fields including computer information technology, electrical engineering technology, engineering technology, mechanical engineering technology and media technologies.

Pellissippi State also offers transfer programs that allow students to get started in their field of choice, earn an associate degree and then transfer seamlessly to a four-year institution.

A full list of Pellissippi State programs is available at www.pstcc.edu/catalog.

Fountainhead College students may be eligible for Tennessee Reconnect, Touzeau added. This last-dollar scholarship for adults covers college tuition and mandatory fees that aren’t paid for through other state and federal financial aid.

Adult learners qualify for Tennessee Reconnect if they:

  • Do not have an associate or bachelor degree;
  • Have been a Tennessee resident since Aug. 1, 2017;
  • Complete the 2018-19 FAFSA;
  • Are designated as an “independent” on the FAFSA;
  • Attend and complete courses at least as a part-time student, taking a minimum of six credit hours per semester; and
  • Complete the TN Reconnect application at www.tnreconnect.gov.

“Our goal here at Pellissippi State is to help students start strong, stay strong and finish strong,” Touzeau said. “We know this is a scary time for Fountainhead College students, and we would love to help them continue their educational journey.”

The Admissions office is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, visit one of our campuses; check out www.pstcc.edu/admissions, where Live Chat is available for those with questions; email admissions@pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

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Pellissippi State faculty explore World War I’s legacy on Armistice centennial

Pellissippi State Community College will mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I with a symposium covering seven topics, from poetry to propaganda.

“The Great War: One Hundred Years Later” will be held 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The symposium, which includes seven 30-minute lectures by Pellissippi State faculty of different disciplines, is free and open to the public.

“This gives us an opportunity to present some research outside of our classrooms,” said symposium organizer Nathan Pavalko, an assistant professor of history who specializes in modern U.S. history and the Cold War. “I like to try to bring history topics outside the classroom, and I wanted to make this as interdisciplinary as possible. We have art, English and history represented.”

The symposium schedule includes:

  • 10-10:30 a.m.: The Great War and the end of the Long Nineteenth Century, presented by Harry Whiteside
  • 10:30-11 a.m.: Russian Propaganda, presented by YuLiya Kalnaus
  • 11-11:30 a.m.: Poets of the Great War, presented by Brigette McCray
  • 11:30 a.m.-noon: Versailles Treaty and 100 Years Later, presented by Pavalko
  • Noon-12:30 p.m. World War I and the Women Who Waged It, presented by Josh Durbin
  • 12:30-1 p.m.: The Great War and German Expressionism, presented by Herb Rieth
  • 1-1:30 p.m.: War Crimes of World War I, presented by Alison Vick

World War I left quite a legacy, Pavalko said.

“The world we live in today probably would not exist, politically and culturally, had World War I not happened,” he noted. “World War I creates the modern concept of what war is. It’s not heroic. It’s not some grand adventure. It’s sheer brutality, and that is what shocks people into rethinking what war is.”

World War I can serve as a cautionary tale even today, Pavalko added.

“One of the overarching thoughts before the war, especially in Europe, was, ‘We’ll never have another war because we are so civilized, technologically advanced and diplomatic,’” he explained. “We should learn not to underestimate the horribleness of humanity.”

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit the website at www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400. To request accommodations for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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James Agee Conference at Pellissippi State celebrates Appalachian arts, literature

An annual literature conference with an Appalachian focus has branched out this year to include music and photography.

The third annual James Agee Conference for Literature and Arts will be held Sept. 14 and 15 at Pellissippi State Community College’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The free event, which is open to the public, will include master classes led by musician Kelle Jolly, photographer Roger May and novelist Jon Sealy as well as a keynote presentation by author Robert Gipe. Their presentations, all on Sept. 14, will be held in the Goins Auditorium.

“In the past, we’ve had poets and writers of fiction and nonfiction,” explained conference founder Charles Dodd White, an associate professor of English at Pellissippi State. “This year we are going beyond the literary by adding music and photography, which will expand on our arts theme.”

White, who will be inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame in October, created the conference largely to give Pellissippi State students an opportunity to attend a scholarly conference while also celebrating the literature, culture and arts of Appalachia.

“Agee is such a particular touchstone for this area,” said White, who is teaching Pellissippi State’s first Appalachian literature course this fall. “The Conference gives us an opportunity to honor his influence while also exploring the hometown portrayal of Appalachia through writing and art.”

White is committed to keeping the conference free so that it remains accessible to students, and he encourages music and photography students to participate as well.

“This lets students get their feet wet and see what a professional literary festival/conference is like,” White said. “These are also really good master classes, which is an excellent opportunity for other aspiring writers and artists.”

Union Avenue Books will be on hand with a selection of Appalachian literature, and conference participants will have opportunities between the interactive workshops to mingle with the presenters and get their works signed.

For the full schedule and more information on this year’s presenters, visit www.pstcc.edu/events/ageeconference.

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Pellissippi State names new vice president for Student Affairs

Pellissippi State Community College has named Rushton Johnson Jr. the new vice president for Student Affairs. He will oversee Admissions, Advising, Counseling, Career Services, Disability Services and Student Life, among other areas.

Dr. Rushton Johnson
Dr. Rushton Johnson

Johnson has spent more than 20 years working in higher education for a number of institutions. He replaces Rebecca Ashford, who left the college last year to serve as president of Chattanooga State Community College.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Johnson join us at Pellissippi State,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., president of Pellissippi State. “He brings a great deal of experience and expertise and has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to student success. This leadership will benefit our students from the time they apply through the time they graduate.”

Most recently, Johnson served for six years as vice president of Student Affairs at Atlanta Technical College in Atlanta, Ga. He has served as executive director of Student Life at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore., and dean of Student Life/assistant to the vice president of Student Affairs at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., as well as colleges in Mississippi and Alabama.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Birmingham-Southern College, his master’s degree in counseling from Jacksonville State University and his doctorate in higher education administration from The University of Alabama. He is currently working on a master’s in general management from Harvard University.

Pellissippi State students take top marks in state Math Bowl

Pellissippi State Math Bowl Finalists
Math Bowl participants from left to right: Hollie Arnsdorff, Hannah Ruth Smith, Julia Williamson, Julie Coulombe, Kerrigan Magnus, Katelyn Bertou, Alex Shipe, Sarah Herrell.

Students from Pellissippi State Community College took eight of the top 15 places in a recent statewide mathematics competition among community colleges.

A total of 131 Pellissippi State students competed in the annual Pellissippi State Math Bowl in five divisions — survey of mathematics, calculus A and B, precalculus and statistics. Community college students from across the state also participated in the competition at their home college. Their scores were then compared to those of other students entered in the Math Bowl.

Pellissippi State student Timothy Beauchamp finished first in the statewide survey of mathematics division, while Hollie Arnsdorff scored first in the statewide statistics division. Jessie Li finished second statewide in calculus B. Katelyn Bertou and Edward Radford tied for first, while Alex Osbourne, Hannah Ruth Smith and Shane Hawkins tied for third in the statewide precalculus division.

The Pellissippi State Math Bowl is part of the annual State Mathematics Competition, sponsored by the Tennessee Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. In addition to state prizes, Pellissippi State — thanks to a grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities — awards its top finishers in each subject with additional cash prizes.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

Pellissippi State, TCAT sign agreement to allow credit transfer

TCAT PSCC Signing
Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr., right, signed an articulation agreement with Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville President Dwight Murphy, left, and Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings in December.

 

In December, Pellissippi State Community College and Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville signed an agreement that will allow TCAT students in qualified courses to also earn credit from Pellissippi State.

Seven TCAT Knoxville programs have courses which allow transfer credit toward a degree at Pellissippi State. TCAT Knoxville students can now transfer between six and 24 hours toward an associate degree in Welding Technology; Electrical Engineering Technology; Mechanical Engineering Technology; Computer Information Technology with a concentration in Networking; or Engineering Technology with a concentration in Civil Engineering or Industrial Maintenance.

“Agreements like this one streamline higher education for students,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “Partnerships like ours with TCAT Knoxville are demanded by regional industrial partners, who need qualified workers in high-skill jobs.”

“Working with the staff at Pellissippi State and TCAT Knoxville, we have created an educational path for regional students to articulate a TCAT technical diploma toward an associate degree at Pellissippi State,” said TCAT Knoxville President Dwight Murphy. “This model program will allow the two institutions to train the kind of skilled employees that regional industries need.”

Pellissippi State and TCAT Knoxville have a model program already active at the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus. TCAT hosts its Welding program early in the day, followed by welding classes taken by dual-enrolled high school students from the Career Magnet Academy, followed by Pellissippi State’s Welding Technology students later in the day. All of the students use the same lab, classroom and equipment.

Pellissippi State and TCAT Knoxville will continue to expand their partnership to meet more local workforce needs, and plan to repeat the successful arrangement in Blount County.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.