Pellissippi State uses Constitution Day to teach students their rights

As U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process continues in Washington, D.C., Pellissippi State Community College is using its annual Constitution Day event to help teach students about their rights.

Constitution Day, scheduled for 1-1:50 p.m. Sept. 17, will feature Prof. Akram Faizer of Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law. Faizer writes prolifically about constitutional law with an emphasis on the difficulties related to integrating historically marginalized groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, migrants, gender minorities and the poor.

Faizer will speak on “The U.S. Constitution: Key Provisions” in the Goins Building Auditorium on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The event is free and open to the public.

“We know students have questions about their rights, the Supreme Court and if their rights are in jeopardy,” said Drema Bowers, director of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement. “Students are asking, ‘Could we be stripped of some of our rights as the makeup of the Supreme Court changes?’”

The goal of Constitution Day, which commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, is to help students learn how to become civically engaged.

“Pellissippi State does a good job getting students registered to vote; now we need to get them out to vote,” said Sandra Davis of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement. “Students also can work elections, and they need to know that, too.”

Constitution Day will be a success, Bowers added, if it makes students question what it means to be involved civically on the local, state and federal levels.

“If they come away with more questions than answers, that’s a good thing,” she said.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or


Pellissippi State promotes community service through 9/11 event, volunteer fair

“Anyone can make a difference.”

This is the message Pellissippi State Community College is promoting in September with two events designed to inspire faculty, staff and students to get involved in their communities.

Pellissippi State’s annual 9/11 Day of Remembrance, scheduled from 9:10-9:45 a.m. Tuesday, will include not only a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in 2001, but also an uplifting message about the importance of service from Jeff Eastman, chief executive officer of Remote Area Medical, a Knoxville-based nonprofit that provides free medical, dental and vision care through mobile medical clinics in the United States and abroad.

“This is a national event started by family members of the victims of 9/11, who wanted this day to be more than a day of sadness,” explained Drema Bowers, director of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement.

The 9/11 Day of Remembrance, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the Goins Building Auditorium on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

“Jeff is going to share about Stan Brock’s life and how Stan’s work encouraged him to volunteer and be involved and how that experience has impacted him,” Bowers said, referencing the RAM founder who passed away Aug. 29. “And that should challenge us, as the 9/11 Day of Remembrance also is about celebrating those who stood up that day in 2001, both in New York and locally, to help. Everyone can do something.”

Faculty, staff and students can find that “something” to do at Pellissippi State’s annual Volunteer Fair scheduled for 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 25.

More than 20 nonprofits in Knox, Blount and Anderson counties have been invited to the event in the Hardin Valley Campus’ College Center.

“Students are asking, ‘How do I get involved?’ especially because Tennessee Promise requires eight hours of service to the community each semester to continue receiving scholarship funding,” Bowers explained. “We want students to see the resources early and find a good place to plug into off campus.”

During the 2017-18 academic year, more than 1,000 Pellissippi State students logged community service hours, either as a volunteer or through courses that offer a service-learning component for class credit.

Combined with the hours logged by faculty and staff and the hours provided by AmeriCorps VISTAs assigned to Pellissippi State, the college’s community service had a $601,139 economic impact on the state during the 2017-18 academic year, based on the federal rate of $24.69 per volunteer hour served.

For more information about Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, visit

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or


Upcoming play postponed due to injury

“Black Comedy,” a play scheduled to be performed Sept. 14-16 at Pellissippi State Community College, has been postponed due to an injured actor.

The performance may be rescheduled for spring semester.

To view other upcoming music and theatre performances, as well as visual arts exhibits and faculty lectures, visit

James Agee Conference at Pellissippi State celebrates Appalachian arts, literature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the full schedule and more information on this year’s presenters, visit


Pellissippi State offers Influential Leadership series

Learn to give effective presentations, lead teams, delegate job duties and run meetings that accomplish goals with Pellissippi State Community College’s non-credit Influential Leadership series.

The classes are $99 each and scheduled for five Thursdays from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. All classes will be held at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

  • Learning Your Leadership Style on Sept. 6 – Explore your leadership style and understand how to adapt it for any situation.
  • Presentation 101: Keep the Room Awake on Sept. 13 – Ace your next presentation as you practice in front of a group and receive professional feedback.
  • Meetings 101: Herding Cats Effectively on Sept. 20 – Learn how to make your meetings shorter, more impactful and how to make everyone feel heard.
  • Delegation 101: Let It Go on Sept. 27 – Understand the four Ws of delegation and how to communicate exactly what you need.
  • Leading a Team on Oct. 4 – Learn the stages of team development, characteristics of high-performing teams and reward and recognition techniques.

To sign up for any classes in the Influential Leadership series or to learn more about lifelong learning and non-credit courses at Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-539-7167.

To request accommodations for a disability for one of these classes, call 865-539-7401 or email

Pellissippi State expands Weekend College offerings to continuing education classes

Pellissippi State Community College invites the community to second Saturdays at Weekend College in downtown Knoxville.

Every second Saturday throughout the fall, Pellissippi State Business and Community Services will offer a selection of popular lifelong learning classes at the Magnolia Avenue Campus, 1610 E. Magnolia Ave.

Several of the classes are free.

“These noncredit classes provide a mix of small business seminars, hobby classes and professional development courses,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of Business and Community Services. “We’re excited to offer these classes on weekends for those who can’t attend during the week.”

Second Saturday classes at the Magnolia Avenue Campus include:

  • Hand Lettering by Urban Farm Girl Design: 9-11 a.m. Sept. 8, $60
  • Handmade Baskets: 9 a.m.-noon Sept. 8, free
  • Excel Workshop: 9 a.m.-noon Sept. 8, $29
  • Bluegrass Jam for Strings: 10:30-11:30 a.m. Sept. 8, free
  • Beekeeping Basics: 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 13, free
  • YouTube – Your Visual Voice: 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 13, free
  • Managing Change in the Workforce: 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 13, free
  • Personal Cybersecurity: 9-11:30 a.m. Nov. 10, free
  • Restaurant Business Basics: 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 10, free
  • Employee Motivation: 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 10, free

Lifelong learning classes are non-credit continuing education courses. Course registration is required either online at or by calling 865-539-7167.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or

NASA speaker explores outer, inner space at Pellissippi State

A special guest from NASA will help kick off the school year at Pellissippi State Community College on Sept. 6 – and the community is invited.

Johnny F. Stephenson Jr., director of the Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will speak on “The Journey of Exploration: From Outer Space to Inner Space” as part of Pellissippi State’s annual Convocation ceremony.

The presentation will be held 12:30-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The event is free to attend.

Stephenson’s NASA career began in 1986, when he joined the student co-op program, working as a systems engineer in Marshall’s Engineering Directorate. After earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1987, Stephenson went to work for NASA full time.

Over his career at NASA, Stephenson has served in several capacities at both Marshall and at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. NASA has bestowed numerous awards on Stephenson, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award bestowed by the agency, for excellence in his leadership of the One NASA effort.

Stephenson now leads an organization of 160 civil service and contractor personnel in providing the strategic planning, objective analysis and comprehensive communications to support the policy, program and budget decisions for Marshall Space Flight Center, a field center with an annual budget of approximately $2.4 billion.

Stephenson’s presentation fits perfectly into Pellissippi State’s Common Academic Experience theme of “Inner Space | Outer Space,” which was inspired by the total solar eclipse in August 2017. The Common Academic Experience is a two-year discussion of issues, both in and out of class, around this theme.

Stephenson also is a first-generation college student, which Common Academic Experience co-chairs Will Buck and Allison Scripa felt would resonate with many Pellissippi State students.

“We hope students will be inspired by Johnny’s story and get fired up for the new academic year, while faculty and staff will be reminded of our common purpose to help our students get to where they’re going,” Scripa said. “We may have a future NASA director among our students, and we are an integral part of helping them get situated on that path.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or


Graphic designer kicks off The Arts at Pellissippi State for fall 2018

Graphic designer Aggie Toppins is the first featured artist in Pellissippi State Community College’s art series this fall.

Toppins’ recent work, titled Palimpsests, will be on exhibit Aug. 27-Sept. 14 at Pellissippi State’s Bagwell Center for Media and Art Gallery on the College’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

While the gallery hours are 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, an opening reception for Toppins’ exhibit will be held 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, with an artist lecture to follow at 7 p.m.

Palimpsests is a series of collage-based prints rooted in the practice of psychogeography.

“I use extant materials that pass through my life while traveling to construct compositions that index my experience while attempting to capture the ways experience leaves its trace on me,” explained Toppins, who is head of the art department at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Toppins’ recent work is just the first of several offerings in The Arts at Pellissippi State this fall. For more information on upcoming visual arts, theatre and music events, visit

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or

Pellissippi State closed Aug. 15 for in-service

All Pellissippi State campuses and offices will be closed on Wednesday, August 15, for In-service. They will reopen for business the next day.  We thank you for your understanding and patience. Please note that classes scheduled to meet on Aug. 15 will not be canceled.

Meanwhile, Pellissippi State has extended its hours for student services during August to serve you better. Those offices include Admissions, Records, Financial Aid and Advising. Extended hours at the Hardin Valley Campus are Saturday, Aug. 4 and 11, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. All campus offices including the Cashier will be open until 6 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, Aug. 13, 16, 20 and 23. Advising is by appointment only on Aug. 4; all other days are for walk-ins.

Pellissippi State names new vice president for Student Affairs

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

Dr. Rushton Johnson
Dr. Rushton Johnson

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

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

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

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