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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Tennessee Board of Regents honors Pellissippi State alumnus veteran with commendation

Randy Martinez accepts a challenge coin from Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.
U.S. Army veteran and Pellissippi State alumnus Randy Martinez, left, accepts a Challenge Coin from Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Wednesday. Martinez is the first Pellissippi State recipient of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ new Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans.

Pellissippi State Community College alumnus Randy Martinez was honored on Veterans Day by his alma mater and by the Tennessee Board of Regents, the system that governs the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges. 

Martinez, who graduated from Pellissippi State in 2017, received the Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans, which was accompanied by a Challenge Coin from Chancellor Flora Tydings. The TBR and Tydings established the new commendation as a system-level award to honor the service, bravery and sacrifices of military veterans in the campus communities. 

Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. presented Martinez with the coin, which carries a strong history of military tradition associated with loyalty, unity and commitment. 

I am glad a small number of the Pellissippi State community could gather on campus today to recognize and honor the sacrifice military veterans and their families have made on behalf of our country,” Wise said. “Of special significance today is the opportunity to recognize alumnus Randy Martinez with the Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans. He was a decorated soldier during his time in the service and an engaged learner and leader while at the College. We are grateful for Randy and pleased to honor him today. 

The Veteran Support Committee of Pellissippi State recommended Martinez for the commendation, which he received during the College’s Veterans Day Commemoration on its Hardin Valley Campus.  

Martinez served in the U.S. Army for eight years, earning the rank of Specialist 4th Class. He served in the United States, Korea and the Middle East and was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Commendation Medal twice, the Unit Commendation Medal twice, Good Conduct Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. 

As a student at Pellissippi StateMartinez served as a New Student Orientation leader, a Veteran’s Affairs work study, an officer with the Student Veterans Club and a mentor for new student veterans. He was deeply involved in volunteer activities supporting homeless veterans at the Mountain Home Domiciliary in Johnson City, as well as assisting with several massive clean-up projects at Sharp’s Ridge Veterans Memorial Park in Knoxville. Martinez also is a gifted cook and provided many delicious meals to student veterans, staff and faculty while he was a student at Pellissippi State.  

“Randy’s caring nature, easy humor and innate kindness made him a favorite across the College,” said Rachael Cragle of Pellissippi State’s Veteran Support Committee. “We are proud of his accomplishments and pleased to call him one of our own. 

Martinez earned his Associate of Science degree, Tennessee Transfer Pathway in Business Administration at Pellissippi State. He transferred to King University and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration. Martinez now works as a member of the quality control management team at C.R. Barger & Sons, Inc. in Lenoir City, with plans to pursue a master’s degree in project management.  

Up close shot of the challenge coin for the Chancellor's Commendation for Military Veterans
Randy Martinez shows the Challenge Coin he received Wednesday, when he was honored with TBR’s Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans, a new system-level award to honor the service, bravery and sacrifices of military veterans in the campus communities.  

“Pellissippi State has a great support structure between the faculty and staff, and the Veteran Support Committee was just phenomenal,” Martinez said. “Without them, I know for a fact that I would not have graduated. And as an alum, I was able to come back and still get help; these people were still willing to sit with me and do the tutoring. There is so much Pellissippi State offers, not just to veterans but to all students, that it would be silly not to take advantage of it.” 

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

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Pellissippi State wins statewide food drive, collects equivalent of 15,411 items

Three students stack canned goods given during the Pack the Pickup campaign
Pellissippi State students in Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management class help “Pack the Pickup” with donations to the Pellissippi Pantry on Dec. 6.

The Pellissippi Pantry will be stocked with more than 15,000 new units of food, thanks to Pellissippi State Community College’s recent Pack the Pickup campaign.

The food drive, which ran Nov. 1 through Dec. 11, collected seven times the amount of food the college gathered the previous year.

“Last year we collected 1,904 items of food,” said Student Care and Advocacy Director Drema Bowers. “This year we set the lofty goal of 10,694, one item for each student enrolled at Pellissippi State this fall. We are thrilled to report that we surpassed our goal and collected the equivalent of 15,411 items.”

Pellissippi State’s Pack the Pickup campaign was part of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ annual food drive. TBR is the largest system of higher education in the state, responsible for governing Tennessee’s 13 public community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.

TBR Vice Chancellor for Student Success Heidi Leming announced Friday that 110,944 items were collected and donated to food pantries at the nine community colleges and 16 colleges of applied technology that participated in the food drive this year.

Institutions were grouped by student headcount to determine the top institutions, and Pellissippi State won for Tier 2 community colleges while Jackson State Community College pulled in the most items – 18,315 – as a Tier 1 community college.

“Pellissippi State was awarded an additional $6,000 not included in their total to further support their food pantry,” Leming added, referencing a $5,000 donation from Discovery, Inc. and a $1,000 donation from Lipscomb University for projects completed with Pellissippi State earlier this year. “What an incredible expression of kindness and generosity across the TBR system!”

Pellissippi State had some extra helping hands with its food drive this year. Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management students set up Food Drive “Service Stations,” in tandem with the college’s Pack the Pickup theme, to accept donations as well as share information about the Pellissippi Pantry and food insecurity among college students.

Right now the Pellissippi Pantry serves 125 participants, representing 398 total people in those participants’ households. That’s a significant increase from last year, Bowers noted, as the Pellissippi Pantry only served 130 participants during the entire 2018-2019 academic year.

Group of students with donation box for food drive
Jimmy Buckner, executive director of Scarecrow Foundation, an organization to fight hunger (far left), joined Pellissippi State Student Care and Advocacy Director Drema Bowers (second from left), Professor Lisa Fall (third from right) and Fall’s Project Design and Management students in helping “Pack the Pickup” with food drive donations on Dec. 6.

“We know we have students who don’t eat, who live in their cars,” said Fall, who also is serving as co-advisor of X-Hunger, a new student club devoted to supporting the Pellissippi Pantry. “This isn’t New York City. This is right here on our campuses, right here in our backyard.”

The college also collected donations at its first Wild Goose Chase 5K and during its annual Breakfast with Santa.

Pellissippi State had support from the community this year as well. Chick-fil-A locations in Turkey Creek and Oak Ridge held a fundraiser to support Pack the Pickup while other community partners collected for the food drive at their places of business: Regions Bank on Hardin Valley Road, Integrity HR Services, King University, Food City, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Cotton-Eyed Joe and Sitel.

“Food insecurity impacts every community, and it’s gratifying that so many local businesses partnered with us during this food drive,” Bowers said. “We look forward to continuing this important work together.”

Another thing that made a huge difference this year was online giving enabled by the Pellissippi State Foundation, she added. More than $5,500 in donations was collected online, and each dollar was counted as equivalent to two food items.

In total, Pack the Pickup collected 4,983 items while 11,018 items will be purchased from monetary donations given during the campaign.

“In addition to thanking those who supported us throughout the Food Drive, I would also like to acknowledge the support we receive all year long through our employee giving, monthly food drives and student clubs and organizations,” Bowers stressed. “That support from the Pellissippi State community keeps us going throughout the entire year.”

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Pellissippi State aims to ‘Pack the Pickup’ with food donations

Students with donated food items and Pack the Pickup poster
Pellissippi State students in Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management Class have been setting up Food Drive “Service Stations” this month to collect donations for “Pack the Pickup.”

How much food can fit in the bed of a pickup truck?

Pellissippi State Community College is hoping the answer is 10,694 items. That’s the college’s goal for this year’s TBR Annual Food Drive. TBR, The College System of Tennessee, is the largest system of higher education in Tennessee, governing the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.

“Our theme is Pack the Pickup,” explained Drema Bowers, director of Student Care and Advocacy, noting that the goal equals the number of students enrolled at Pellissippi State this fall. “We are collecting donations, and then we will meet with our community partners on Dec. 6 to pack a pick-up with our donations.”

In addition to collection boxes on all five Pellissippi State campuses in Knox and Blount counties, community partners are collecting for Pellissippi State as well: Regions Bank on Hardin Valley Road, Integrity HR Services, King University, Food City, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Cotton-Eyed Joe and Sitel.

“We are fortunate to have so many of our local businesses support our Pellissippi Pantry,” Bowers said. “They understand the challenges that some college students experience, including food insecurity, and they are eager to help.”

Students in Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management Class have set up Food Drive “Service Stations,” in tandem with the pickup theme, across all five campuses to help educate students about food insecurity and the Pellissippi Pantry, which provides food for Pellissippi State students and their families.

“We know we have students who don’t eat, who live in their cars,” said Fall, who also is serving as co-advisor of X-Hunger, a new student club devoted to supporting the Pellissippi Pantry. “This isn’t New York City. This is right here on our campuses, right here in our backyard.”

Student places donated food in box
A Pellissippi State student places donated food into a box on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus. Pellissippi State has set a goal of collecting 10,694 items for the TBR Annual Food Drive, one item for each student enrolled at Pellissippi State this fall.

In fact, at this time last year, Pellissippi Pantry had 67 participants, Bowers noted. That number is up to 98 participants this year, representing 305 total people in those participants’ households.

“I think what I’ve learned most by participating in the food drive is that there are more people than you think that have food insecurity,” said Pellissippi State student Amberlie John. “Being provided with the numbers of last year’s participants in total versus where we are just three months into the academic year is astounding. By raising awareness of this issue, we hope to help those in need feel comfortable speaking out and asking for help – and to not be shy or ashamed of what they are going through.”

Financial contributions may be made this year in lieu of purchasing items, Bowers added. Every dollar donated equals two units of food. You can give directly online at this link provided by the Pellissippi State Foundation: https://sites.pstcc.edu/foundation/pack-the-pickup/.

For more information about the TBR food drive, contact Student Care and Advocacy at 865.539.7417 or ppantry@pstcc.edu.

TBR honors Blount County Economic Development Board for philanthropy

Fred Lawson accepts matted and framed TBR Chancellor's Award
Blount County Economic Development Board Chairman Fred Lawson, center, accepts the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy from Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr. and Regent Danni Varlan on Thursday.

The Blount County Economic Development Board was honored Thursday with the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy.

The board was nominated by Pellissippi State Community College for its early pledge of $1 million on behalf of Blount County and the cities of Alcoa and Maryville to support the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center that will be built on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

“The Economic Development Board was founded as the Blount County Industrial Development Board more than 50 years ago with the vision to attract good jobs so that young people wouldn’t have to leave Blount County,” said Regent Danni Varlan before presenting the award to Economic Development Board Chairman Fred Lawson at Blount Partnership. “With shared space for high school dual enrollment, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Pellissippi State and incumbent worker training, the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center will ensure that students are ready to enter the workforce with great local employers such as Arconic, Blount Memorial Hospital, DENSO and Clayton Homes.”

The $16.5 million Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center is being funded by a public-private partnership: $5.5 million raised by the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation, $5.7 million from TCAT Knoxville capacity expansion funds and $5.3 million from the state.

“This is a different path than most of our projects take,” noted Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “State building projects usually wait on a list for about 18 years. The conversations we’ve had with business and industry leaders and (Blount Partnership CEO and President) Bryan Daniels indicated that, with the job growth in Blount County, we were pretty sure we didn’t have 18 years to wait.”

Varlan agreed.

“Blount County is just rocking it,” she said. “Since 2012, Blount County has added 6,000 new jobs and $2.9 billion in capital investment.”

In addition to receiving the Chancellor’s Award, the Economic Development Board got a sneak peek at plans for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on Thursday. The plans by BarberMcMurry Architects have not been shared publicly because they will not go to the state building commission for approval until October, Wise explained.

“The principal layout is large open teaching spaces, similar to our MegaLab at the Strawberry Plains Campus, because we wanted to build in flexibility,” Wise said. “When students walk out to train, they get the feeling they are walking out onto the floor at one of our industry partners. That flexibility is important because my guess is that advanced manufacturing won’t be done the same way 10 years from now.”

Varlan praised the flexibility reflected in the plans and connected that flexibility with how higher education has changed over the years.

“It’s very important to us at TBR to make sure our workforce is competitive,” she said. “The whole idea of our community and technical colleges is to be open and nimble. We don’t know what’s coming down the road, but we have to be ready to teach it. Now we ask communities, ‘What do you need?’ The whole point is that our students can get out of school and get a job.”

Blount County Economic Development Board with Chancellor's Award
Several members of the Blount County Economic Development Board were on hand at the Blount Partnership Thursday for the presentation of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy. From left are Bob Booker of DENSO, Monica Gawet of Tennessee Marble, Joe Dawson, Regent Danni Varlan, Blount County Economic Development Board Chairman Fred Lawson, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Greg Wilson of First Tennessee Bank and Matthew Murray of the University of Tennessee.

The 51,000-square-foot Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center will include proposed Pellissippi State programming for Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts and Engineering Technology concentrations such as Automated Industrial Systems and Industrial Maintenance.

The building also will house a Corporate Training Center that will be available to businesses who want to train their workers off site, for training Business and Community Services provides to local employers and to the community for events.

“It can be divided into three areas for smaller groups, or we can open it up with theatre seating for 234 or round tables for banquets accommodating around 210,” noted Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for Economic and Workforce Development.

TCAT’s portion of the building is slated to include programming for Industrial Electrical Maintenance, Machine Tool Technology, Pipe Fitting and Welding to start, Wise said, while dual enrollment opportunities with Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County schools will continue to grow.

“We’ve done a lot and had a lot of conversations about this, and one of the things that’s exciting is now it’s time to execute that planning and have something really special here in Blount County,” Wise said. “It’s going to be a great facility to teach in, to learn in and to work in.”

Pellissippi State plans to break ground on the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center this winter and fully occupy the building by fall 2021.

“We wouldn’t be here without the support of the people in this room,” Wise said.

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

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Tennessee Board of Regents honors ORNL, ORAU for support of higher education

ORAU accepts Regents Award
Andy Page, president of Oak Ridge Associated Universities, accepts the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 2. From left are Roane State President Chris Whaley, Page, Regent Danni Varlan and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Oak Ridge Associated Universities were honored recently with Tennessee Board of Regents awards for their support of Pellissippi State and Roane State community colleges.

The Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy, which both ORNL and ORAU received, recognizes those organizations and individuals who have been “very generous” to one or more TBR institutions. TBR is the largest system of higher education in the state, governing 40 community and technical colleges – including Pellissippi State and Roane State.

“ORNL and ORAU understand the investments they are making in the futures of our students with the partnerships they support for Roane State and Pellissippi State community colleges,” said Regent Danni Varlan, who presented ORNL and ORAU with their Regents Awards at a recent East Tennessee Economic Council meeting in Oak Ridge. “We are grateful for their leadership and commitment to education and workforce training.”

Pellissippi State nominated ORAU for its longtime support of Pellissippi State and Roane State, both financially — $340,000 and counting – and through countless hours of volunteer time and expertise assistance. Roane State provided a letter in support of the nomination.

“Community colleges are so important in terms of advancing science and education in the workforce and in bringing in the talented workforce that East Tennessee is going to need in the next 10 to 15 years,” said ORAU President Andy Page. “ORAU is privileged to be a member of this community, and we have to be able to pay that back by investing in Pellissippi State, Roane State and their many students.”

Through the support of ORAU, Pellissippi State offers an annual middle school mathematics contest. During the past 18 years, more than 10,000 students from 32 East Tennessee schools have participated in the event, which is free for them to enter.

ORAU also partnered with Pellissippi State to offer an Advanced Manufacturing Internship, a six-week program designed to prepare students to enter this high-tech workforce, and provided scholarship support to Pellissippi State students, who worked as math tutors during their time at the college.

Most recently ORAU pledged $100,000 to support Pellissippi State’s Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on its Hardin Valley Campus.

“ORAU’s continued commitment to Pellissippi State and Roane State has strengthened both institutions and made a positive impact on students and the community,” wrote Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., in nominating ORAU for the award.

ORNL accepts Regents Award
Dr. Thomas Zacharia, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, accepts the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 2. From left are Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Zacharia, Regent Danni Varlan and Roane State President Chris Whaley.

Roane State nominated ORNL for the lab’s nearly two decades of support of many of the college’s educational initiatives, ranging from an innovative program for high school students to scholarships and grants to a major building project. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Harriman and Pellissippi State supported the nomination.

“We partner with Roane State and Pellissippi State because they effectively prepare students to succeed in diverse fields, including some that are still rapidly evolving,” said Dr. Thomas Zacharia, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “Oak Ridge National Laboratory exists to tackle some of the most compelling challenges facing our nation in energy, science, technology, and national security, and we are fortunate to have both of these excellent colleges right in our backyard.”

UT-Battelle manages ORNL and since 2015 has supported Roane State’s unique Middle College with $119,000 in scholarships for high school students so they can graduate from both their high school and the college at the same time.

UT-Battelle in 2011 provided an initial $10,000 to buy supplies for the new “Lab-in-a-Box” program where middle school educators are given materials to use in teaching their students about biology, geology, chemistry and other sciences. Roane State faculty train the teachers. The program is still in place and provides assistance to schools in Roane State’s service area.

In 2008, UT-Battelle contributed $100,000 to help in the construction of the three-story Goff Health Sciences & Technology Building on Roane State’s Oak Ridge campus.

ORNL, through UT-Battelle, also has supported numerous other educational programs at Roane State through gifts of scientific equipment; support for the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Roane State; backing for federal grants, including more than $1 million for the development of the college’s Mechatronics program; support for career-readiness training for wounded veterans; and access to lab facilities and volunteer staff support.

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s tremendous engagement with both Roane State and Pellissippi State benefits students and contributes greatly to workforce development in the region,” said Roane State President Chris Whaley. “ORNL is a wonderful partner, and we are deeply thankful for their support of the region’s community colleges.”

Pellissippi State offers a high quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals. Founded in 1974, with five campuses in Knox and Blount counties, Pellissippi State offers associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees.

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

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has campuses in Crossville, Harriman, Huntsville, Jamestown, Knoxville, LaFollette, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge and Wartburg.

For more information on Roane State, visit www.roanestate.edu or call 865-882-4554.

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Pellissippi State offers Tennessee’s first Water Quality Technology program for water, wastewater

Pellissippi State Community College has answered the call from industry partners to start offering associate degrees in Water Quality Technology.

Man at water tank.
Water Quality Technology is one of Pellissippi State’s newest programs.

The new program, approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents at the end of June, will start this fall and prepare students for careers in water and wastewater treatment plants. It is the first program of its kind in the state, said Program Coordinator Arthur Stewart, who was brought on board last year to design the curriculum with industry partners.

“This is real important to the industry,” said Drexel Heidel, general manager of West Knox Utility District. “Some 30 to 50 percent of our certified operators are slated to retire in the next 10 years. So we’re struggling to find people to run our plants.”

An advisory committee comprised of 11 utility representatives as well as staff from the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts and the state’s Fleming Training Center have been working with Pellissippi State to create a program that will meet the needs of water and wastewater treatment plants. Instructional materials align with those used for state-level certifications so that graduates will be prepared for what Heidel calls “pretty rigorous tests.”

Right now the pass rate for Class 3 and Class 4 operators in Tennessee is about 30 percent, he noted.

“There are just not enough people to go around,” Stewart added. “There is a real need here for classes that will help existing utility workers pass their state-level certifications, which will address the industry’s short-term need, and also to recruit new and younger students to the field, which will serve the long-term need.”

Men working with tanker truck
Water Quality Technology was created to help fill the demand for workers at Tennessee facilities.

Pellissippi State’s Water Quality Technology program provides both operational theory and a strong practical background in mathematics, chemistry and aquatic sciences through coursework, site visits and a capstone project conducted at a local water or wastewater treatment facility.

“We came to Pellissippi State and told them our dilemma and our need for the program because Pellissippi State is the best around,” Heidel said. “We are very excited to be able to prepare students to be our future operators.”

Joshua Johnson with Knoxville Utilities Board’s Plant Operations agreed.

“Water and wastewater treatment is a career path that is vital to all healthy communities, and the Water Quality Technology Program will allow for faster onboarding of new employees in this critical field,” he said. “KUB is excited to be a part of developing the next generations of treatment professionals.”

College and industry representatives are recruiting students now for the program’s first two classes, which start this fall: Orientation to Water Operations and Regulations & Compliance. Pellissippi State’s fall semester begins Aug. 26.

man working at computer
Classes will consist of many off-campus visits to local water treatment facilities.

“The program will follow a cohort structure, in that students will move through their classes as a group,” Stewart explained. “Regardless of their age or their experience, students will take the same classes at the same time.”

Sixty or 61 credit hours are needed to graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Water Quality Technology. The program goals, typical job opportunities, courses and course sequence can be found in Pellissippi State’s online 2019-2020 College Catalog or on the program’s website at www.pstcc.edu/water-quality.

“There will be multiple off-site visits, where students will be able to engage with plant operators and have face time with prospective employers,” Stewart noted. “And because this program is the only one like it in the state, we expect incredible growth.”

For more information about the new Water Quality Technology program, contact Program Coordinator Arthur Stewart at ajstewart1@pstcc.edu or 865-694-6427 or Natural and Behavioral Sciences Dean Kane Barker at kmbarker1@pstcc.edu or 865-694-6695.

To apply for Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/admissions.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1800789. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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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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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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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.”