Former Pellissippi State president J.L. Goins, wife Martha receive TBR award for philanthropy

Martha and J.L. Goins accept the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at their Friendsville home on Dec. 11.
Martha and J.L. Goins accept the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at their Friendsville home on Dec. 11.

J.L. and Martha Bond Goins were born to parents whose education ended with early elementary school. Neither had the financial support from home to attend college, yet they became lifelong educators who continue to support students during their retirement. 

J.L. Goinsformer president of State Technical Institute at Knoxville — now Pellissippi State Community Collegeand Martha Goins, who worked as a counselor at Oak Ridge High School until her retirement, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for 2020 at their Friendsville home Dec. 11. 

The award honors individuals, companies and organizations who go “above and beyond” to donate their resources, finances and personal time to a Tennessee Board of Regents institution. 

Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. nominated the Goinses as “career educators with a focused passion for career and technical education.” 

“J.L. and Martha Goins know first-hand the importance of educational access for a family and a community,” Wise said. “Their passion for career and technical education was evident in their working years and has continued to drive their commitments today.” 

J.L. Goins grew up attending Blount County schools, the middle of seven children in a poor family. 

“As a youngster, I picked and sold blackberries, hoed cantaloupes and watermelons, built fires for the school – just about anything to earn money to help the family,” he explained. “At age 15 and a sophomore at Everett High, I began washing dishes at Blount Memorial and started saving what I could for college. It took a long time at 50 cents an hour!” 

Martha Goins is from rural Campbell County and spent two years in a coal mining camp in Claiborne County. She was put in touch with a Lincoln Memorial University representative who explained she qualified for scholarships, grants and work study. She later transferred to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and was able to graduate early with honors. 

J.L. Goins chose Maryville College because he had no vehicle and could walk to school. At no point did he receive any financial aid. Despite working full time, he went on to become the college’s top graduate in Business Administration and received a $50 savings bond for that honor. 

“I promptly went out and spent $27 on a suit for graduation and job interviews, so when I graduated, I had $13 to my name,” he said. “I never had any help, but I vowed I would help others.” 

Throughout his time in education, J.L. Goins never lost sight of the need for preparation for employment.  

“I saw the need for decent jobs that would mean a decent quality of life,” he said. “Education is America’s equalizer. If you have a relevant education and a willingness to work, you have an equal opportunity for success.” 

But education doesn’t necessarily mean graduating from a four-year college or universityJ.L. Goins stressed. 

“Academia and many parents are in love with the idea that everyone needs a four-year college degree,” he said. “In fact, many jobs in America don’t require that, but need appropriate technical and other related job skills. It is classic mismatch of workforce educational needs.  

J.L. Goins set out to change that. In 1964, hbegan his career in education with Oak Ridge Schools, establishing its first marketing and cooperative education program. Less than two years later, he moved to Chattanooga Public Schools, serving as principal of the system’s adult education center and eventually developing the state’s largest adult education program.  

J.L. Goins went on to become technical education director for a cooperative effort by the Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County school systems. He was recognized by the American Vocational Association as the Southeast’s best. 

In 1981 J.L. Goins was appointed president of State Technical Institute at Knoxville, which evolved to Pellissippi State Technical Community College in 1988. As president, J.L. Goins promoted and supported a wide variety of programs such as fine arts and college transfer classes. During this period, he also oversaw the construction of the Hardin Valley Campus and expanded Pellissippi State into Blount County.  

Before J.L. Goins retired in 1993, Pellissippi State’s enrollment had more than tripled from 2,500 students when he came to State Tech to about 9,000. 

J.L. Goins spent time promoting technical programs in area high schools and making sure those classes articulated to Pellissippi State. He also worked with the University of Tennessee to help fill UT’s pipeline with Pellissippi State students who could transfer to the university as juniors. But he didn’t stop there. 

“The whole focus of my time in education was students,” J.L. Goins said. “As president, I spent as much time supporting economic development as I did supporting the college so that our students would have jobs when they graduated.”

Martha Goins made her mark in education as well. After working as a technician in the Biology Division at Oak Ridge National Lab for almost four years, she began her career in education as a junior high science teacher and later was a counselor at Oak Ridge High School, from which she retired. One of Martha Goins’ goals was to help her students become employable by being prepared for jobs that would be both satisfying and provide economic stability.  

In addition to guiding those students who chose to attend various universities, Martha Goins guided others who went straight into the workforce, those who chose the military and other options. She was recognized locally, regionally and at the state level for her innovating programs. After retiring in 1995, she volunteered for 20 years in Blount County Schools. 

In retirement, the Goinses have continued to support Pellissippi State through consistent and generous donations to the college’s Foundation. 

Pellissippi State’s plans to construct the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on our Blount County Campus fulfill J.L.‘s lifelong dream: a center where high school students, technical education students and community college students can study side-by-side, in pursuit of a credential, a job and a career that can support a family,” Wise said. 

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

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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 – www.pstcc.edu/coronavirus – 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 bcs@pstcc.edu. 

“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 www.pstcc.edu 

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CBBC Bank gifts Pellissippi State Foundation with donation for workforce development

Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. and CBBC Bank President and CEO Mike Baker with a $25,000 check from the bank to the Pellissippi State Foundation
Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., left, accepts a $25,000 donation from Mike Baker, president and CEO of CBBC Bank, on Friday, Nov. 9, in Maryville.

CBBC Bank has given $25,000 to the Pellissippi State Foundation for workforce development programs at Pellissippi State Community College.

Bank officials presented the donation to Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Friday, Nov. 9, at the bank’s downtown Maryville location.

“CBBC Bank supports Pellissippi State Community College because their programs and courses provide higher levels of education for the workforce, which in turn provides jobs for our community,” said CBBC Bank President and CEO Mike Baker. “Choosing to make an investment in workforce development programs gives local people a greater opportunity to stay in our community, creating a better livelihood for everyone.”

“We are very appreciative of this gift from CBBC,” Wise said. “Our Pellissippi State students certainly will benefit from their generosity, but so will the community as our students become better prepared to enter the workforce.”

Blount Partnership has announced 5,300 new jobs in Blount County alone since Gov. Bill Haslam took office in January 2011, and the average salary of those new jobs is $81,500, according to the Blount Partnership.

“Donations like this one from CBBC Bank help us expand our offerings that are targeted toward the job market in Blount County,” said Marilyn Roddy, director of Major Gift Development for the Pellissippi State Foundation. “Pellissippi State is working hard to address this economic explosion of new jobs across the region.”

That’s good news for local businesses like CBBC Bank.

“Pellissippi State is great for us because the college is training people who will stay here in our community – our family, our friends and our customers,” Baker said.

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

Pellissippi State, Board of Regents recognize Gene Haas Foundation

TBR and Pellissippi State's President Wise presenting Gene Haas foundation 2018 Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy
TBR Regent Danni Varlan presents Kathy Looman, Gene Haas Foundation executive director, with the 2018 Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy. Also pictured, (L-R) Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Michael Garner, president of Phillips Commercial, and TCAT-Memphis President Roland Rayner.

The Tennessee Board of Regents has presented the Gene Haas Foundation with the 2018 Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for its contributions to higher education. Pellissippi State Community College and the Tennessee College for Applied Technology at Memphis each nominated the foundation for the award.

TBR, the governing body of the state’s community colleges and TCATs, bestows the award annually to those who make a significant impact on higher education in their communities. Danni Varlan, a TBR board member from Knoxville, presented the award to Kathy Looman, executive director of the Gene Haas Foundation, during a ceremony March 26 at Pellissippi State.

“I am inspired by what I have seen while working with the education system in Tennessee where industry and education, along with elected officials, are working together to create opportunities that improve the lives and future of the community,” said Looman.

Gene Haas is the owner and founder of Haas Automation, Inc., the largest machine tool builder in the western world. The company manufactures a complete line of computer numerical control (CNC) machine tools. Haas started the Gene Haas Foundation in 1999 to support manufacturing education. Since 2015, the foundation has contributed more than $1.3 million in scholarships and equipment to manufacturing education in Tennessee. Pellissippi State students majoring in the Engineering Technology Manufacturing Concentration are among those who have benefitted.

“Pellissippi State is grateful for the support the Gene Haas Foundation has given our Engineering Technology program and students over the years,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “They are worthy recipients of the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for their contributions here and across the state.”

Pellissippi State increases adult enrollment, sets new records

L. Anthony Wise Jr.

“Finding out about the free tuition program at Pellissippi State — a year before everyone else had it — was the reason I came back to college,” said Lara Mechling, a newly enrolled adult student at Pellissippi State Community College. “I started college after high school, but the timing wasn’t right. Because of Reconnect Now, I can begin again.”

Mechling, a 29-year-old recent mother, and around 2,500 fellow adult students qualified for Pellissippi State’s Reconnect Now scholarship initiative this semester. Reconnect Now is a last-dollar scholarship, funded by the college, for qualified adults. It allows adult students to attend the college tuition-free.

Of the approximately 2,567 students who qualified for Reconnect Now funding, 1,598 students have received funding so far. Of those, 1,100 students are new to the college and 498 are students who were previously enrolled. In short, nearly 23 percent of Pellissippi State’s current student population are new adults who qualified for Reconnect Now, and students who received Reconnect Now funding make up nearly one-seventh of the college’s total enrollment.

Total enrollment of adult students is 3,464 this year, reflecting the highest adult enrollment at the college since 2013 and a reversal of a seven-year downward trend in adult enrollment.

This increase in adult students contributed greatly to Pellissippi State’s overall jump in enrollment. The official headcount enrollment for fall is 11,168 students — an increase of nine percent over last year and the highest headcount since 2011. The college remains the largest community college in the state.

Pellissippi State did realize a number of enrollment firsts this semester. The college saw its highest-ever population of first-time freshmen — those who have never before attended college. Online student enrollment was up nearly 45 percent, making Pellissippi State’s online “campus” second in popularity only to the college’s Hardin Valley Campus.

“We’re excited to welcome the largest freshman class in the history of the college,” said President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “We are committed to providing the support necessary to give each and every one of our students the best possible chance of success at Pellissippi State and beyond.”

Other record highs were seen among Dual Enrollment students, who can earn college credits while still in high school, and for enrollment at the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus.

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

Pellissippi State has record enrollment in fall 2017

Students in Courtyard

Pellissippi State Community College will see record enrollment this fall.

When classes begin August 28, approximately 11,571 students will walk onto Pellissippi State’s five campuses — which reflects an increase in enrollment of about 10.4 percent over the same day last year.

This fall, the college launched Reconnect Now, a last-dollar scholarship for qualified adult students that covers tuition and mandatory fees. About 2,706 students are eligible for Reconnect Now funding.

The college’s previous record high enrollment was 11,260 in 2011. Pellissippi State has been the largest community college in Tennessee since 2015.

“Our pilot of Reconnect Now has proven that adults in Tennessee have waited for an opportunity like this,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “Pellissippi State is proud to open the doors of education to everyone.”

Headcount enrollment is up at all five of Pellissippi State’s campuses in Knox and Blount counties, and is up almost 50 percent online.

“Covering the cost of tuition and fees does not meet all of the needs of adults with jobs, families and lives outside of school,” Wise said. “We have expanded the classes and programs we offer online, in the evenings and on weekends to fit adults’ schedules, and we’re pairing adult learners with support services like free child care for qualified single parents, credit for prior learning and even an academic fresh start if they’ve tried college before unsuccessfully.”

Pellissippi State’s Reconnect Now program will last through summer 2018. Next fall, qualified Reconnect Now students at Pellissippi State will transfer into the state’s Tennessee Reconnect scholarship program.

The official enrollment numbers for the semester will be determined and released on September 11.

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

Pellissippi State offers last-dollar scholarship for adult students

2016 fall graduation ceremony

Anthony Wise
L. Anthony Wise Jr.

Pellissippi State Community College announced today that it would offer a last-dollar scholarship for adult students beginning in fall 2017.

The scholarship program, Reconnect Now, will cover tuition and mandatory fees, allowing qualified students to attend Pellissippi State for free.

Interested students can visit www.pstcc.edu/reconnect to find out more. Registration for the fall semester opens April 3. Pellissippi State will hold a special open house for adult students from 9:30 a.m.-noon Saturday, April 1, at the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The open house is free, but interested students should RSVP at www.pstcc.edu/reconnect.

“This spring, Governor Haslam introduced his plan to expand the Tennessee Reconnect grant to give more adults the opportunity to attend college in the 2018-2019 academic year,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “We applaud that idea, but wanted to find a way for adult learners to get started right away.

“Through Reconnect Now, Pellissippi State will cover the costs of tuition and mandatory fees for qualified adult students in order to open the doors of higher education to everyone,” he added.

To qualify for the scholarship, students must qualify as an independent on the FAFSA and can’t have previously earned a college degree. Students must enroll at least part-time (at least six credit hours) in an associate degree program and keep a 2.0 grade point average. Visit www.pstcc.edu/reconnect for a full list of scholarship criteria.

In conjunction with the launch of Reconnect Now, Pellissippi State will offer expanded evening and weekend classes, as well as online pathways to a degree, to accommodate all types of student schedules. As always, the college offers support services like mentoring, tutoring and academic and career advising to all students.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. For a full list of Reconnect Now requirements, visit www.pstcc.edu/reconnect.