Clayton, Clayton Foundation donate $500,000 to Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center

Dr. Wise accepts two $250,000 checks from Clayton
Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., center, accepts donations for the new Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center from Clayton Director of Philanthropy Susan Brown, left, and Clayton Foundation Managing Director Michell Clayton, right, on Aug. 7 at Clayton’s home office in Maryville.

Two longtime supporters of Pellissippi State Community College have continued their philanthropy with generous donations to construct the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the college’s Blount County Campus.

Clayton, headquartered in Maryville, and the Clayton Foundation each have pledged $250,000 to the project for a total commitment of $500,000.

Clayton Foundation Managing Director Michell Clayton and Clayton Director of Philanthropy Susan Brown presented Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. with the donation commitments Wednesday at Clayton’s home office in Maryville.

“These gifts are a continuation of a long partnership with Clayton and the Clayton Foundation to educate Blount County students and prepare them to enter the local workforce with the skills they need to create a bright future for themselves and their families, right here in Blount County,” Wise said.

The Clayton donations to The Campaign for Pellissippi State will help build the new workforce development center, a $16.5 million project that Denark Construction expects to break ground on this winter. The 53,000-square-foot building that is being designed by BarberMcMurry Architects 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.

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.

“The workforce development center represents a unique, integrated approach to workforce development with a K-12 partnership, offering duel enrollment classes for high school students, focusing on high-demand career skills; a TCAT partnership, which will give that college its first footprint in Blount County; and industry partnerships developed to meet local demands, including a new corporate training center that will give local companies extra space and opportunity to train their employees at Pellissippi State,” Wise added. “This effort supports great jobs and successful careers for our children and grandchildren right here at home in Blount County.”

The Clayton Foundation, which works to make a difference in the lives of families, organizations and communities, has supported Pellissippi State since 1990. Its first major gift to Pellissippi State was $800,000 in 2008 to support the college’s Blount County Campus and its Clayton Performing Arts Center on its Hardin Valley Campus in Knoxville.

Clayton, whose mission is to help hardworking families achieve the dream of home ownership, has supported Pellissippi State since 2003. The company’s first major gift to the college was $200,000, pledged in 2008 to support the Blount County Campus.

“This workforce development center will provide so many opportunities for students to grow and prosper with training for the modern trade environment,” Brown said. “We are thrilled to join with the East Tennessee business community in support of Pellissippi State’s efforts to meet such an important need.”

Pellissippi State expects to open the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center to students in fall 2021. For more information on the building or to make a donation in support of the project, visit www.pstcc.edu/campaignforpellissippistate/workforce.

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

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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 www.pstcc.edu/campaignforpellissippistate.

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Pellissippi State unveils improvements to Blount County Campus library

Ed Harmon unveils his name above the library on the Pellissippi State Blount County Campus
William “Ed” Harmon, right, unveils his name above the library on the Pellissippi State Blount County Campus on Wednesday, June 19, assisted by Blount County Campus Librarian Will Buck, left.

Panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains, natural light from a semicircle of nine large windows and shorter shelving accessible to those who use wheelchairs are among the changes students will discover when they visit the library on Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus.

The improvements were unveiled Wednesday during a ceremony naming the library in honor of Pellissippi State donor William “Ed” Harmon, who has committed $100,000 to help build the Blount County Workforce Development Center on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

“The space is just transformed,” said Dean of Library Services Mary Ellen Spencer. “It looks so much larger.”

Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett agreed.

“The library is, by far, the most open, most naturally lit and most inviting area on this campus,” she said.

Three large shelves previously dominated the library, blocking not only the light from the room’s soaring windows, but also the line of sight from the service desk to the library’s computers, which were located around the perimeter of the room.

“When a person was struggling or needed help, we couldn’t see them,” Spencer said, adding that the library’s glass display cases also were hidden from view by the large shelves.

Removing the tall shelving and replacing it with shorter stacks that fit beneath the windows along the wall not only flooded the room with natural light, but also made the library collections accessible to those who use wheelchairs.

Meanwhile, the library’s computers were moved to a different area of the room, closer to the printer and to the service desk, and existing furniture was rearranged to make the library “much more student-friendly” and conducive for collaboration. Students who don’t want to use one of the library’s desktop computers can check out laptops or tablets and use them at four-top tables located throughout the library.

“The space looks twice as big; it’s night and day,” Spencer said. “We’re very excited to show off this inviting, welcoming atmosphere.”

William "Ed" Harmon and Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett pose inside the newly improved Blount County Campus library.
Ed Harmon and Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett pose inside the newly improved Blount County Campus library on Wednesday, July 19. In the background you can see the shorter shelving, which not only allows natural light to flood the room from the massive windows, but also is accessible to those who use wheelchairs.

Naming the library in honor of Harmon was a natural fit, as the Maryville native has been supporting Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus since 2004, when the college was located in the old Bungalow School. In fact, much of the framed artwork located throughout the Blount County Campus was donated by Harmon, said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

“It means a lot to me,” Harmon said at the unveiling ceremony Wednesday. “I have been blessed with so many friends, and I appreciate you all coming.”

Harmon’s most recent gift to the college –  $100,000 to build the Blount County Workforce Development Center – will benefit not only Pellissippi State, Wise noted, but also the community.

“Our students who graduate from here stay here,” Wise said, noting the Blount County Workforce Development Center will include alignment with Alcoa City, Maryville City and Blount County schools; Tennessee College of Applied Technology; and the college’s industry partners. “We are all in this together to create great jobs and careers for the people who want to live and work here.”

For more information on the Blount County Workforce Development Center or to make a donation in support of the project, which Pellissippi State hopes to break ground on by the end of this year, visit www.pstcc.edu/campaignforpellissippistate/workforce.

For more photos of the event, check out Pellissippi State on Facebook.

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Pellissippi State’s H.A.B.I.T. cat makes literary debut in new “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book

Betsy Boyd holding her gray Maine Coon cat
Longtime Pellissippi State counselor Betsy Boyd talks about her H.A.B.I.T. cat, Jimmy Carter McGill, during a celebration on the college’s Blount County Campus on Thursday. Jimmy Carter McGill is featured in the new book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat.”

When Jimmy Carter McGill walks onto Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus, students just “melt” onto the floor.

The local celebrity walks around like he owns the place. Faculty and staff lure him into their offices with toys and treats. He makes himself at home on their bottom shelves.

Now Jimmy Carter McGill, a 14-pound Maine Coon cat, is featured in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat,” published earlier this month. The story was written and submitted by his owner, Betsy Boyd, a longtime counselor on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

Included in the book’s chapter titled Who Rescued Who?, “Jimmy Carter McGill” recounts how Boyd came to adopt the stray cat at a grief-stricken time in her life and have him certified as a volunteer with Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (H.A.B.I.T.), an animal-assisted therapy program sponsored by the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

“It’s a very rare kitty to have the confidence and composure to go visit people in a variety of settings,” H.A.B.I.T. Program Coordinator Ruth Sapp said at a celebration of Jimmy Carter McGill held at Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on Thursday. “I am just so proud of you guys.”

Boyd started bringing Jimmy Carter McGill – named for both former President Jimmy Carter and fictional character Jimmy McGill in the television series “Better Call Saul” – to the Blount County Campus around three years ago, she said Thursday. It was Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett who recognized his potential as a H.A.B.I.T. animal, Boyd noted.

“I said, ‘I’ve never seen such a friendly cat! You may want to check into (animal-assisted) therapy,’” Burkett recalled Thursday.

Boyd did just that, driving to Chattanooga for a H.A.B.I.T. informational meeting. With the blessing of Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., all five of Pellissippi State’s campuses became official H.A.B.I.T. facilities that can host H.A.B.I.T. animals at any time, not just during final exams week, as had been the college’s practice.

“This is just the coolest and greatest program,” said Pellissippi State Assistant Vice President for Student Services Elizabeth Firestone, who was director of Counseling Services when Boyd adopted Jimmy Carter McGill and went through the H.A.B.I.T. certification process.

Holly Burkett petting H.A.B.I.T. cat
Pellissippi State Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett, right, pets H.A.B.I.T. cat Jimmy Carter McGill at a celebration Thursday. The cat’s owner, longtime Pellissippi State counselor Betsy Boyd, middle, has had a story about Jimmy Carter McGill and his volunteer work published in the new book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat,” which she presented to Campus Librarian Instructor Will Buck, left, during Thursday’s celebration.

“Jimmy helps students de-stress and relax, but I have to tell you: the faculty and staff go gaga for him,” Boyd added.

Jimmy Carter McGill still visits the Blount County Campus for one hour once a week, even though Boyd retired from her full-time job with the college last year.

“Interacting with an animal helps to reduce stress and releases happy hormones,” Boyd explained, noting Jimmy Carter McGill visited a nursing home for 10 months in addition to his work on the Blount County Campus. “Wherever we go, Jimmy brightens people’s days and brings a smile to their faces.”

Burkett agreed.

“Jimmy Carter McGill coming on campus equals happiness, smiles and student engagement,” she said. “People are sitting on the lobby floor, petting Jimmy, de-stressing.”

Boyd compares Jimmy Carter McGill’s volunteer work to the humanitarian efforts of one of his namesakes – and told President Carter that in a letter.

“I got a little note back from him in his handwriting,” Boyd said. “He said he was honored to have such a special friend as a namesake. It was very sweet.”

Now, with the publication of Jimmy Carter McGill’s story in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat,” Boyd has other ideas “percolating.”

“I can see a whole series of children’s books about Jimmy Carter McGill,” Boyd said, listing off some possible titles based on the cat’s adventures. “I just definitely need an artist!”

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Pellissippi State offers free financial aid assistance, advice in four upcoming events

Students who are feeling overwhelmed with paperwork for grants, loans and scholarships have four upcoming opportunities to get hands-on help from financial aid experts at Pellissippi State Community College.

Pellissippi State will host four Financial Aid Days:

  • 12:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, May 24, at the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville;
  • 2-7 p.m. Monday, June 3, at the Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville;
  • 12:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, at the Magnolia Avenue Campus, 1610 E. Magnolia Ave., Knoxville; and
  • 2-7 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at the Strawberry Plains Campus, 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike, Knoxville.

A link to RSVP to the events, which are capped at 100 students each, is available on the Pellissippi State website at www.pstcc.edu.

Financial aid experts will be available to assist students with Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Financial Student Aid (FSA) IDs, verification of the FAFSA, Tennessee Reconnect applications, and checking the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) student portal to ensure state funding is routed to the appropriate college.

Students should be sure to bring their 2017 tax returns and W-2s, Social Security numbers and FSA ID, if already created, to ensure they can accomplish as much as possible with financial aid experts during the event.

For more information about Financial Aid Days at Pellissippi State, contact Financial Aid at 865-694-6400 or financialaid@pstcc.edu. To request accommodations for a disability at these events, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Rising country music star to perform free concert after manufacturing showcase at Pellissippi State

Courtney Cole in front of the ocean
Rising country music star Courtney Cole will perform a free concert April 10 on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus, as part of Country Music Television’s Empowering Education tour.

Those interested in careers in manufacturing have a chance to learn more about local job opportunities and catch a free concert at Pellissippi State Community College next month.

Pellissippi State is one of four Tennessee community colleges on Country Music Television’s Empowering Education tour featuring rising star Courtney Cole, a Belmont University graduate who has been named one of CMT’s Next Women of Country.

A manufacturing showcase will start at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, in the lobby of Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus, followed by the free concert at 6 p.m. in the campus’ West Chevrolet Auditorium.

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus is located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville. While the concert is free, tickets are required, as seating is limited.

“We want folks to come out, maybe who have never set foot on our campus, to learn more about the manufacturing careers available right here in our community as well as the manufacturing programs we offer at Pellissippi State,” said Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett.

The manufacturing showcase will highlight resources available to students to pursue the initial education and training required to break into a manufacturing career as well as resources available for those who wish to advance their careers with their existing employers, she noted.

Representatives of local companies – including DENSO, Newell Rubbermaid, Cherokee Millwright, Massey Electric, ICC International and Arconic – will be on hand to answer questions, as will representatives from Pellissippi State and Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville, which will inhabit a portion of the new Blount County Workforce Development Center planned for Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

The 62,000-square-foot Workforce Development Center, which the college plans to break ground on in December, will include a Smart Factory MegaLab; a Corporate Training Center for training the employees of the college’s more than 30 employer partners; and Pellissippi State programming for computer information technology, culinary arts, industrial maintenance, mechanical engineering technology, and robotics and industrial automation. Meanwhile, TCAT Knoxville will offer machine tool technology, pipe fitting, industrial electrical maintenance and welding and a variety of healthcare programming.

“My excitement is that not only will Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus be able to offer associate degrees, but also these technical trades that the Blount County community needs,” Burkett said, referencing the 5,500 new jobs Blount Partnership has announced since 2011. “Many times our Tennessee Promise scholarship students come to college because they know it’s a great opportunity, but they don’t know what they want to do. Now they can choose to pursue a program that will transfer to a four-year institution or go with one of our many career programs that prepares them to enter the workforce as soon as possible. It’s a total win-win.”

CMT joined forces with TBR – The College System of Tennessee – for the Empowering Education tour in an effort to increase the number of work-ready residents in the state. Those who attend the concert after the manufacturing showcase will hear success stories from two Pellissippi State students and two TCAT Knoxville students as well as from the artist, who is a vocal advocate for education.

“As someone who graduated from college in Tennessee, I am thrilled to be working with CMT and TBR to spread the message of the potential education has to change your life,” said Cole, who has opened for Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney and Thomas Rhett. “I can’t wait to tour the state, put on a really fun show and encourage people to follow their dreams.”

CMT Empowering Education’s goal is to connect Tennesseans with ways to further their education and develop their skills in order to achieve their dreams. It also supports the state’s “Drive to 55” mission to increase the number of Tennesseans with a post-high-school degree or certificate to 55 percent of the state’s population by 2025. Achieving that goal will require 800,000 more Tennesseans getting the training and skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

To request accommodations for a disability for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.eduFor more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

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Benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” to help victims of violence

Oil panting by Jennifer Brickey
“Private Places,” an oil on canvas painting by Jennifer Brickey, an associate professor of studio art and art history at Pellissippi State, is being used to help advertise the upcoming benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” at the college.

Pellissippi State Community College is using art to bring awareness of violence against women with two theatre performances that benefit the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee.

Women faculty and students will perform a staged reading of Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues,” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, and at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the West Chevrolet Auditorium on the college’s Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville.

A $10 donation is suggested at the door, as the performances are part of V-Day, a global activist moment to end violence against all women and girls. However, Associate Professor Grechen Wingerter said Pellissippi State will turn no one away because the messages in the play are powerful.

“Women in all walks of life have been affected by violence,” said Wingerter, who is directing both performances at Pellissippi State. “If we haven’t experienced violence personally, we know someone who has.”

“The Vagina Monologues,” which debuted in 1996, broke new ground. Based on dozens of interviews Ensler conducted with women, the play addresses women’s sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse. After every performance, Ensler found women waiting to share their own stories of survival, leading Ensler and a group of women to establish in 1998 the nonprofit V-Day, which stages benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” and “A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer: Writings to Stop Violence Against Women and Girls,” also by Ensler, every February.

To date, the V-Day movement has raised more than $100 million and funded more than 13,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Indian Country and Iraq, according to the V-Day website.

“All our readers are women or identify as women because these are all real stories from real women,” Wingerter noted. “These are stories of women who have not had power. In some situations, women are considered second-class citizens. Race, gender, sexuality, religion – all of that plays a part. And we will keep telling these stories until the violence stops.”

Wingerter warns that “The Vagina Monologues” is an adult-oriented show that tries to break the taboo of talking about women’s bodies. Parental discretion is advised.

“Some of these stories have tough language, and some have tough subject matter,” she said. “We say the word ‘vagina’ a lot, as well as its many euphemisms. You may be uncomfortable. Our readers may be uncomfortable. But we have to learn not to be afraid to say the word ‘vagina.’”

While the issues are serious, some stories have taken a comedic or light-hearted approach, leading to moments of laughter that allows audiences to let some of that tension go, Wingerter added.

“I hope both our students who are participating and those who come to see the play will take away that their voices matter, that their experiences matter,” she said. “Let’s look at how often those in the minority are told that their voices are not important. ‘The Vagina Monologues’ empowers women to speak out, that there are people who will listen.”

A talk-back session will be held after each performance, allowing those in the audience and the readers to discuss what they’ve seen and heard, as well as their own experiences.

To request accommodations for a disability for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.eduFor more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

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Pellissippi State hosts play about Underground Railroad

Poster for "Oh Freedom"
Pellissippi State will host “Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad” on two of its campuses this month.

Pellissippi State Community College will host free performances of “Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad” on two of its campuses this month, and the public is invited.

The one-act play will be performed by The WordPlayers at 12:25 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the college’s Magnolia Avenue Campus, 1610 E. Magnolia Ave., Knoxville, and at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at the college’s Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville.

Each performance is approximately 50 minutes.

Written by Peter Manos, “Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad” combines the stories of the men and women who were active in the fight against slavery with songs of the period, according to a description on The WordPlayers’ website. Famous participants like Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe are represented, but so are lesser known heroes of the movement like John Rankin, whose house on a hill above the Ohio River was a beacon for freedom for many escaping bondage; the mysterious “Peg Leg” Joe, who moved among the plantations teaching slaves to escape and “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a song designed to show them the way; and Henry “Box” Brown, who had himself put in a box and mailed to freedom by general post.

“Knowledge about our American history, on all levels, is extremely important,” said Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman and Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett in a joint statement. “Sharing this knowledge in this entertaining way enlightens our students and our community about this history.”

To request accommodations for a disability for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

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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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Joy Bishop receives Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy

Pellissippi State Foundation Board Member Receiving TBR's Chancellor's Award
(L-R) Ginger Hausser, TBR associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, Joy Bishop, Regent Danni Varlan, PSCC President L. Anthony Wise

 

The Tennessee Board of Regents has presented the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy to Maryville’s Joy Bishop in recognition of her support of Pellissippi State Community College.

The award is part of TBR’s Excellence in Philanthropy Awards recognition program that began in 2003 to recognize individuals, companies and organizations who donate their resources, finances and personal time to TBR institutions. TBR is the governing body for Tennessee’s 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.

“I am honored to receive this award. I believe in the community college concept, and I particularly support Pellissippi State and its Blount County Campus. Dr. Wise, the faculty and the staff at Pellissippi State have added a great deal to all five of their campuses. I’m just so proud to be a member of the Pellissippi State Foundation Board of Trustees,” Bishop said.

Bishop has been a long-time supporter of Pellissippi State. She provided leadership in two of Pellissippi State’s major gift campaigns, which have resulted in the establishment and the expansion of the college’s Blount County Campus.

“Joy’s financial commitment to the college is just the tip of the iceberg in measuring her impact. She is a natural-born fundraiser who is not shy about asking others to support our institution,” said L. Anthony Wise, president of Pellissippi State.”

Most notably, she also was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Leg-Up Child Care Assistance Program, a program that provides free child care to a number of qualified Pellissippi State students who are single parents. The program is a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Pellissippi State and state-licensed child care centers in East Tennessee.

Program participants must be enrolled in a minimum of six credit-hours, have a 2.0 or better grade-point-average and be working toward a certificate or associate degree program. Leg-Up pays the full cost of weekly child care, after-school costs, registration fees and various activity charges for children between six-weeks-old and age 13.

The financial burden on single parent-students to provide child care while they work, attend school, and take care of their children, is a major factor in determining whether a student will successfully complete college. The annual cost of providing one child with year-round care can exceed $10,000 a year, and many of Pellissippi State’s student-parents have more than one child. Students participating in Leg-Up have shown improved class attendance, better grades and a lower dropout rate.

Bishop says the inspiration for the Leg-Up Program began on a 12-hour plane flight to Southeast Asia with friend Carolyn Forster. The women were on a trip to Vietnam and had a lot of time to think and talk about ways to help the students at Pellissippi State.

“We realized that the cost of child care was a real problem, especially for single parents,” said Bishop. “So we said, ‘We can do something about that,’ and we came up with a plan. We would get the business community to support us, and we would select only highly-motivated students and provide them with mentors in addition to the child care.”

Bishop formed a committee, which included Holly Burkett, the dean of Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus, did some research on the cost of day care, and wrote out a plan to take to the state.

“Dr. Wise and I went to see the DHS commissioner. [Former] State Senator Doug Overbey [Maryville] met us at the commissioner’s office. Commissioner Hatter was aware of how much child care was a barrier to some students. She was impressed someone was working to do something to keep single parents in school and approved the plan,” Bishop said.

Bishop is quick to share the credit for the success of Leg-Up with her fellow committee members: Marty Black, Jim Proffitt, Carolyn Forster, Ellie Morrow, Gaynelle Lawson, Steve West, Mark Johnson, Greg McLean, Tammi Ford, Tom Bogart, Pam Wolf and Holly Burkett.

In September 2016, Pellissippi State hired Le’John Ellis to manage the program, which has grown steadily and, now, provides quality child care free of charge for 39 student-parents with 60 children in Knox and Blount counties.

“I think Le’John fell from heaven,” Bishop said. “Everyone needs someone to give them a leg up once in their lives. I’m so proud of Leg-Up. It’s perfect, just perfect.”

Bishop, a native of Texas, graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Federal Executive Institute. She spent 30 years in the U.S. Air Force as a civilian and was the first woman to receive an appointment to the Senior Executive Service. Bishop retired in 1990 as one of the highest ranking civilians in the Air Force and put her roots down in Blount County. She then started her own consulting firm, the Emerald Group, which helped underdeveloped countries. Joy serves her community as a member of Maryville Church of Christ, Blount Partnership, Maryville Kiwanis Club, Blount County Library, Maryville College Advisory Board, Clayton-Bradley Academy and Clayton Center for the Arts.

“Joy’s work in the community and with Pellissippi State is transformative. When it comes to volunteering, Joy brings plenty of passion and positivity to the table. Her creativity, motivation and vision inspires all that engage with her. It is an honor to nominate Joy Bishop for the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy,” Wise said.

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