Pellissippi State moves online for rest of semester, postpones commencement

Pellissippi State sign at entrance to Hardin Valley Campus
Pellissippi State is moving its classes and student services online for the remainder of the spring semester.

President L. Anthony Wise Jr. announced Thursday that it is in the best interest of Pellissippi State Community College faculty, staff and students to move classes and student services online for the remainder of the spring semester, with very few exceptions. 

This serious decision was made after the White House and the Centers for Disease Control revised their guidance that social gatherings should be limited to 10 or fewer people, a challenge for any institution. 

To that end, all college events through May 11 have been canceled, effective immediately. Spring commencement and the Nursing pinning ceremony, originally planned for May 10, will be postponed until a later date, but will be held in person when it is safe to do so. 

We know this is not the semester you imagined. It is not the semester we imagined. But we will get through this together,” Wise said in an email to faculty, staff and students. “We have a dedicated group of employees working every day to ensure we cover all our bases so we can finish the semester Pellissippi Strong. This includes everything from offering advising and tutoring online or by phone to making sure our work-study students and part-time employees get paid, even if their jobs change to duties they can do remotely. 

Although classes are moving to an online format for the rest of the semester, at least one computer lab on each campus will continue to operate its normal hours. However, there will be a reservation system put in place after the college’s extended spring break ends March 29 to ensure that there are no more than 10 people in a lab at one time. The same is true for classes that need to hold labs on campus to complete the semester. Instructors may meet with nine or fewer students in a lab while practicing social distancing measures of leaving at least 6 feet between individuals. 

As Pellissippi State transitions to an online learning environment, students can submit questions and concerns about technology, coursework, and support services to our new PantherHelp team at this link. Pellissippi State will continue to update its website – – with frequently asked questions, as well as new pages of resources for faculty, staff and students.  The college also will communicate with faculty, staff and students via their Pellissippi State email and Pellissippi State’s social media accounts. 

Meanwhile, Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services has suspended all non-credit classes until further notice as well and is working with those instructors to discuss rescheduling options. Those with questions about non-credit classes should call 865.539.7167 or email 

“Although these are challenging circumstances, I look forward to the day when we can gather in community on campus once again,” Wise said. 

View Wise’s video message to faculty, staff and students today at 


Join Pellissippi State for Women’s History Month events

Jennifer Brickey at lectern, giving faculty lecture
Pellissippi State Associate Professor Jennifer Brickey gives a previous lecture to a packed house in the Goins Building Auditorium. Brickey is among the female faculty on Pellissippi State’s Fierce Women Steering Committee and is giving a Women’s History Month lecture on March 12.

Pellissippi State Community College is celebrating Women’s History Month throughout March with lectures, films and readings with a focus on “fierce” women.

All are free and open to the public.

“Women’s History Month is an opportunity to highlight and reflect on the contributions of women every day,” said Professor Toni McDaniel, interim dean of Liberal Arts and chair of the Fierce Women Steering Committee. “March was designated as Women’s History Month by Congress in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, when Women’s Studies were first introduced at Pellissippi State, the college had a big celebration during the whole month. We think it is time to reinvigorate this celebration for a new generation of women in a new century.”

The committee, comprised of 11 female faculty, has planned more than 20 events spread over Pellissippi State’s five campuses in Knox and Blount counties. Next week alone the community can check out these lectures:

  • Tuesday, March 10
    Associate Professor Teresa Lopez: “Short, Brown and Female: Overcoming Student Perceptions and Imposter Syndrome,” 12-2 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road
  • Thursday, March 12
    Associate Professor Jennifer Brickey: “Why We March: Art of Protest and Resistance,” 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus

For a complete calendar of Pellissippi State’s Women’s History Month events, visit To request accommodations for a disability for any Pellissippi State event, call 865.539.7401 or email


Pellissippi State hosts Knoxville mayoral, city council candidates on Magnolia Avenue Campus

Several Knoxville mayoral and city council candidates will stop by Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus to talk to voters Wednesday.

The meet-and-greet will be held 10:15 a.m.-noon in the lobby of the Magnolia Avenue Campus, 1610 E. Magnolia Avenue.

So far both Knoxville mayoral candidates, Indya Kincannon and Eddie Mannis, have confirmed their attendance, as have five of the eight city council candidates: Charles F. Lomax Jr. (At Large, Seat A), Janet Testerman (At Large, Seat B), Amy Midis and Amelia Parker (At Large, Seat C) and Charles Al-Bawi (District 5).

Thursday, Oct. 31, is the final day for early voting in the City of Knoxville regular election. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

“Even if you do not live in the City of Knoxville, please stop by and bring your questions,” Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman said. “The candidates have a wealth of knowledge about local government and will be happy to discuss issues with you.”

To view a sample ballot of the the City of Knoxville election, visit


Knoxville author Charles Dodd White headlines Emory & Henry Literary Festival

Charles Dodd White
Charles Dodd White, an associate professor of English at Pellissippi State, will be the featured author at Emory & Henry’s Literary Festival this week.

An associate professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College is the featured author at the 38th Annual Literary Festival at Emory & Henry College this week.

The works of Charles Dodd White of Knoxville will be the focus of this year’s festival, which is themed “Gothic Realism in Appalachian Literature.”

White will present a reading and hold a book signing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in Emory & Henry’s McGlothlin Center for the Arts – Black Box Theatre, as well as present a session on genre and tone and give a public interview on Friday, Oct. 25.

“It’s a great honor to have my work discussed by scholars,” White said. “You spend so much time sitting in a room alone trying to say something worthwhile that it’s meaningful when others respond to that value and talk about it in a way they talk about other pieces of serious fiction.”

Founded in 1982, the Emory & Henry Literary Festival celebrates an outstanding writer with ties to Appalachia. The designated writer participates in the festival, which includes papers by visiting scholars, and meets with students in various forums.

White is the author of three novels and a short story collection. He was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame for fiction last October, and his latest novel, “In the House of Wilderness,” was named the 2018 Appalachian Book of the Year by the Appalachian Writers Association in June.

“Given the depth of characterization, the accurate depiction of the natural world and the lyrical prose present in Charles White’s fiction, it is not at all surprising that Emory and Henry College has chosen to devote this year’s literary festival to his works,” said Pellissippi State Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathy Byrd. “Charles is an immensely gifted writer and an important voice in Appalachian studies. Pellissippi State is fortunate to call him our own.”

The festival, which is free and open to the public, will feature three sessions on Thursday and three on Friday, all in the MCA – Black Box Theatre, 30481 Garnand Drive, Emory, Virginia.

Presentations on White’s work include:

  • “Charles Dodd White’s Writing Life” by Associate Professor Wayne Thomas of Tusculum University at 3:30 p.m. Thursday;
  • “Gothic Realism in Charles Dodd White’s Short Fiction” by Lecturer Jessica Cory of Western Carolina University at 3:30 p.m. Thursday;
  • “A Shelter of Others” by Assistant Professor Bethann Bowman of Young Harris College at 1:30 p.m. Friday;
  • “Surprising Tenderness in Charles Dodd White’s Novels” by Professor Thomas Alan Holmes of East Tennessee State University; and
  • “Father and Son Relationships in the Work of Charles Dodd White” by Instructor Denton Loving of Lincoln Memorial University.

White himself will present “Writing What Bothers You:  Changing Genres when Changing Tone” at 10:30 a.m. Friday in addition to his reading, book signing and public interview sessions.

“I started trying to write seriously more than 25 years ago,” said White, whose next novel should be published late in 2020. “In that time a lot has changed, but I’m still under the weird impression that being a writer is simply one of the most interesting things you can do with your time.

“I’ve been pleased that my books have been getting increasing attention over the years,” he added. “It’s also rewarding to realize you change as you develop. I’m working on a book of essays at the moment. I like trying to tell the truth of the world in the form.”

Other presenters will focus their sessions on the broader topic of Gothic Realism, including former Pellissippi State Professor Carol Luther, who will present “The Gothic Tradition in British Literature: An Overview” at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

For a complete schedule of the 38th Annual Literary Festival at Emory & Henry, visit For more information, contact Literary Festival Director Nicole Drewitz-Crockett at


Knoxville author Bob Booker to headline Pellissippi State’s lectures on 1919, the ‘Year of Fear’

Bob Booker, author
Knoxville author Bob Booker will discuss the Knoxville Race Riot of 1919 at Pellissippi State next week.

It’s been 100 years since the “Year of Fear,” when race riots, stock market crashes and flu pandemics swept the country.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Liberal Arts Department will help mark the occasion with a series of short lectures and discussions on these and other notable 1919 events next week.

Bob Booker, former executive director of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center and an authoritative author on Knoxville’s black history, will provide the keynote address on the Knoxville Race Riot of 1919. His presentation will be held 11:50 a.m.-12:50 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, on Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus, 1610 E. Magnolia Ave. A reception with Booker will follow.

All “Year of Fear” events at Pellissippi State are free and open to the public.

“The First World War was the most catastrophic, bloodiest event in human history up until that time. So often what is forgotten when studying war are the profound effects wars can have on the homefront of any nation,” said History Instructor Leslie Coffman, an organizer of the event. “The aftermath of WWI in America and around the world is a dark story. 1919 is known as the ‘Year of Fear’ for a reason, and we wanted to offer opportunities for the public to understand why.”

The “Year of Fear” schedule includes opportunities at each of Pellissippi State’s five campuses.

Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the Goins Building Auditorium on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road:

  • 9:40-10:10 a.m. “Russia Still Remembers: America’s Invasion of Russia, 1918-1919” by Instructor Yuliya Kalnaus;
  • 10:20-10:40 a.m. Discussion of the upcoming play “Blood at the Root,” based on the Jena Six, led by Associate Professor Grechen Wingerter;
  • 10:40-11:20 a.m. “The Day Wall Street Exploded: America’s First Great Terrorist Attack, 1919-1920” by Assistant Professor Nathan Pavalko;

Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the Magnolia Avenue Campus Community Room:

  • 10:40-11:20 a.m. “The Year that Fun was Banned: The Flu Pandemic of 1919” by Professor Toni McDaniel;
  • 11:20-11:50 a.m. “’It Was a Fear for All of Us’: The Lynching of Will Brown and the Omaha Race Riots” by Coffman;
  • 11:50-12:50 a.m. “The Heat of a Red Summer: Race Mixing, Race Rioting in 1919 Knoxville” by Booker;

Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the Blount County Campus West Chevrolet Auditorium, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville:

  • 10:15-10:40 a.m. “The Spanish Flu: Adding Insult to Injury” by Assistant Professor Amanda Carr-Wilcoxson;

Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the Division Street Campus’ conference room, 3435 Division Street:

  • 11:20-11:50 a.m. “The Marathon Continues: Questions of Race in 2019” by Instructor Gregory Johnson; and

Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the Strawberry Plains Campus’ lobby, 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike:

  • 12:55-1:50 p.m. “How 1919 Changed Knoxville Forever: The Events that Weren’t Supposed to Happen Here” by Instructor Laura Arnett Smith with a musical performance by tutor Marcel Holman.

“We wanted to focus on remembering the Knoxville Race Riots as part of this ‘Year of Fear’ because all of this seems particularly troubling when dealing with humanity issues so close to home,” Coffman said. “Understanding the Red Summer, in particular the atmosphere of Knoxville post-WWI, also gives us the context we desperately need for understanding modern racial dynamics. This is a road we have traveled together as Americans.”

For maps and driving directions to Pellissippi State’s five campuses, visit

To request accommodations for these or any campus event, call 865-694-6411 or email


Pellissippi State brings popular TV theme songs to stage with Prime Time Octet

Tom Lundberg and the Prime Time Octet performing
The Prime Time Octet includes, from left, Ben Dockery on piano, Harold Nagge on guitar, David Slack on bass, Keith Brown on drums, Tom Lundberg on trombone, William Boyd on tenor saxophone, Bethany Hankins on violin and Doug Rinaldo on alto saxophone. The group makes its Knoxville debut at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Pellissippi State.

Theme songs from television classics from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to “Frasier” are the unique repertoire of Tom Lundberg and the Prime Time Octet.

The group makes its Knoxville debut at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Pellissippi State Community College’s Clayton Performing Arts Center, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The concert, which is free and open to the public, is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances and fine arts exhibits.

“We created the Prime Time Octet to focus on music created for television from as early as the 1960s up to the 2000s,” explained Lundberg, the Brass Ensemble director for Pellissippi State. “We have found that these tunes will be quite familiar for folks whether they lived through this era or have caught reruns. Even students are familiar with these songs, whether they know the shows or not.”

As musicians, the Prime Time Octet were interested in exploring the composers of these theme songs that have become part of popular culture, all of whom are either well known in the music world or are household names like Quincy Jones, who wrote the theme song for “Sanford and Son” and Jose Feliciano, who penned the theme for “Chico and the Man.”

The Prime Time Octet takes the familiar music further, however, with cleverly crafted arrangements by composer Terry Vosbein that allow the musicians opportunities to improvise.

“We are, in that way, an improvisational jazz group,” Lundberg noted. “We bring a sound that is unique.”

Comprised of Lundberg and seven fellow Knoxville-area musicians, the Prime Time Octet first performed at Washington and Lee University in Virginia in fall 2017 and recorded a CD of the event, which was released last year.

The group includes three Pellissippi State Music faculty – Lundberg on trombone, bassist David Slack and guitarist Harold Nagge – as well as drummer Keith Brown, a senior lecturer/adjunct associate professor of percussion at the University of Tennessee; pianist Ben Dockery, an assistant professor of music at Tennessee Wesleyan University; professional violinist and teacher Bethany Hankins; woodwind specialist Doug Rinaldo, who has toured the world, including a four-year residency in Hawaii; and woodwind specialist William Boyd, who plays saxophone for the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and just released an album, “Freedom, Soul, Jazz.”

“There is a lot of versatility in our group, with multi-instrumentalists,” Lundberg said. “Our palette of sounds has a deeper reach.”

Other theme songs on tap include those written for “Mannix,” “Maude,” “Monk,” “Night Court,” “The Jeffersons,” “The Muppet Show,” “The Rockford Files” and more.

For more information about The Arts at Pellissippi State this season, visit or call 865-694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email


Pellissippi State Culinary Arts program coordinator feeds the masses at Cannes Film Festival

Chef Joseph Blauvelt helps a culinary student at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019
Chef Joseph Blauvelt, right, helps a culinary student in the American Pavilion at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Photo credit: Amirah Parker

When Americans at the Cannes Film Festival were looking for familiar food in France, it was Pellissippi State Community College’s own Chef Joseph Blauvelt who fed them.

Blauvelt, who has been Culinary Arts program coordinator for Pellissippi State since February, was one of the chef managers at the film festival’s American Pavilion, helping lead a 13-person team that fed just over 2,000 people in the first two days alone.

“It was a lot of work,” said Blauvelt, who lives in Maryville with his wife and two children. “I absolutely love Europe, and I would move there in a heartbeat if I could, but they also worked our tails off. There were days we worked 17-hour shifts.”

This was not Blauvelt’s first experience at the Cannes Film Festival, which was held May 14-25. He had worked there as a student in 1998, 1999 and 2000, after he graduated from culinary school at Sullivan University in Kentucky. This time he was invited back as a manager.

“It was just a treat, after 20 years, to experience it again,” Blauvelt said.

For Blauvelt, who spent 13 years in research and development for Custom Foods in Knoxville, it also was fun to get back into a restaurant setting – albeit one with limited resources.

“We had a small kitchen with two hot plates, a panini press and a griddle,” Blauvelt explained. “That actually had improved since I was last there, when all we had was a hot plate and a microwave.”

While the daily menu was “simple fare” such as paninis, quesadillas and hamburgers, Blauvelt noted the team also was responsible for catering private dinners sponsored by American Airlines, British Airways and IMDb. Much like an episode of “Top Chef,” each sponsored dinner was a different menu – and the team was challenged to produce restaurant-caliber food out of “literally a circus tent,” he added.

Tuna tartare with julienned vegetables and cranberry foam
Chefs and culinary students at the American Pavilion created this tuna tartare with julienned vegetables and cranberry foam for a private dinner during the Cannes Film Festival.

But the less-than-ideal kitchen didn’t stop the American Pavilion team from turning out plate after plate of Instagram-worthy dishes, which they hashtagged #makeitsexy on social media.

“The biggest difference I saw between 20 years ago and now is the quality of the food,” Blauvelt said, scrolling through his photos of deconstructed lemon meringue pie, tuna tartare with julienned vegetables and a lamb chop with a lamb jus made by one of the managers who is a saucier. “I would’ve bathed in that sauce if I could have.”

The American Pavilion managers had to be on site at 5:30 a.m. to set up for breakfast for the culinary students, which was held at 6:30 a.m. The American Pavilion opened to the public at 9 a.m. daily and stopped serving at 10 p.m. On evenings that the team also catered private dinners for sponsors, however, the managers wouldn’t get out of the kitchen until 11:30 p.m. or midnight.

“There’s a certain kind of camaraderie that comes with shoving a bunch of people who don’t know each other into a small kitchen together,” Blauvelt said. “And there’s the rush of the restaurant. I’ve been out of a restaurant for 16 years. It was that rush after a shift that you miss.”

Culinary students from all over the world may apply to work at the American Pavilion, the chef explained, noting one of the 2019 students was from London. Those who are chosen pay American Pavilion $1,900 that covers their housing and meals for the entire Cannes Film Festival.

“This is the experience of a lifetime, and there needs to be Pellissippi State students there,” Blauvelt said, noting he plans to bring the American Pavilion recruiter to Pellissippi State this year. “A lot of our students here never get out of this area or have never been on a plane. I want our students to see it, to experience the chaos.”

For more information about Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program, visit There’s still time to apply for fall semester, which begins Aug. 26. For more information on how to apply, visit


Beyond the lecture: one-day workshop on ‘Teaching with your Mouth Shut’ focuses on active learning

College educators who want to explore active learning strategies and come away with lesson-planning ideas are invited to a one-day workshop at Pellissippi State Community College this fall.

“Teaching with your Mouth Shut: Keeping Students Active, Attentive and Engaged!” will be held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville.

Capped at 75 participants, those who register by Aug. 16 will receive a $50 discount. Lunch is included in the price of the workshop.

Co-hosted by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and Pellissippi State, this regional workshop is based on the popular book, “Teaching with Your Mouth Shut,” by Donald Finkel and will be led by Ericka Landry, director of Faculty Development at Lone Star College in Houston. Landry has worked and taught in K-12 and higher education for more than 20 years.

“This is the first time we’ve been asked to co-host a regional workshop with NISOD,” said Kellie Toon, director of the Pellissippi Academic Center for Excellence. “The topic – engagement and active learning strategies – was selected by Pellissippi State faculty, and I particularly like that participants will walk away with lesson-planning ideas they can incorporate into the classroom.”

Participants also will consider several classroom assessment techniques and explore at least three instructional technologies. All will receive a certificate of attendance upon completing the workshop.

Prices for the workshop vary by where educators are employed:

  • Pellissippi State: $129 for early registration, $179 after Aug. 16;
  • NISOD member college: $159 for early registration; $209 after Aug. 16; and
  • NISOD nonmember college: $209 for early registration; $259 after Aug. 16.

To learn more about the workshop or to register, visit For those driving in from out of town, contact information for nearby hotels is listed on the website as well.


Pellissippi State vice president selected for leadership institute

Audrey Williams
Audrey Williams

Audrey Williams, vice president of Information Services and chief information officer for Pellissippi State Community College, has been selected to participate in the 2019 Leading Change Institute in Washington, D.C.

Williams, who has worked for Pellissippi State for 20 years, is one of only 38 individuals chosen for the conference, which is jointly sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources and EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association that helps higher education elevate the impact of information technology.

“Throughout my career in educational and information technology, I have had the mindset of being a problem-solver, serving as a support function within the work of others,” Williams said. “To increase our capacity to serve our students, we have a growing number of new and existing technologies and data platforms. This brings change, not only to the technical staff, but to faculty, students and staff. I am now asked to provide leadership before, during and after these projects to ensure their purposes are understood, all voices (both positive and negative) are heard, risks are evaluated and impacts are anticipated.”

The Leading Change Institute, which takes place this week, brings together leaders in higher education who want to work collaboratively to promote and initiate change on critical issues, including new sources of competition, use of technology to support effective teaching and learning, distance learning, changing modes of scholarly communications and the qualities necessary for leadership.

“Participation in LCI will provide me with tools, networks and information to help me lead my division, my college and the statewide college system at a critical time as we approach several upcoming large changes in operations, as well as whatever the future may bring our way,” Williams said. “By attending LCI, I hope to create strong, professional relationships with peers around the world and to take advantage of what I can learn from the presenters and institute faculty to build my understanding of how to lead positive change on campus and beyond.”

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


Pellissippi State invites educators to free distance learning conference

Educators interested in making their online classes more engaging are invited to a free one-day distance learning conference at Pellissippi State Community College on June 26.

Tanya Joosten, director of Digital Learning Research and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will give the keynote presentation to kick off the conference, which will be held in the Goins Administration Building on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Joosten is nationally recognized for her work in blended and online learning. She leads a national research initiative, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, working to provide access to research models and methods, facilitate innovative processes of data collection, and encourage the replication of research across institutions through the DETA Research Toolkit, which identifies key factors that influence student success with particular attention to underrepresented students.

Paul Ramp, director of Distance Education for Pellissippi State, will follow the keynote with an update on “Pellissippi Online: Where We Are. Where Are We Going?” which would be useful for high school educators to know as high school students across the region continue to supplement their classes with online courses offered by Pellissippi State.

Conference participants also will have the opportunity to attend three breakout sessions. Among the planned topics are accessibility, best practices and online pedagogy.

The conference, which is co-sponsored by Distance Learning and the Pellissippi Academic Center for Excellence (PACE), will begin at 8:30 a.m. June 26 and wrap up by 4 p.m. Registration is open now at Registration is free, but space is limited.

For more information, contact PACE at 865-539-7335. To request accommodations for a disability for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email