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PSTCC continues expansion


The exceptional level of growth and innovation that took place at Pellissippi State Technical Community College in 2006 will be hard to top in 2007 — but plans to do so are already in the works.

Last year the college experienced record enrollment, the groundbreaking for a new building, a record $1 million gift and the inauguration of a national initiative focused on student success.

This year promises an extraordinary spring trip to France by the student music group Variations, the possibility of a new campus in Blount County, the kickoff this spring of a major fund-raising campaign, the continued growth of innovative academic programs and the search for a new vice president of Academic and Student Affairs.

In September 2006, Pellissippi State broke ground at the Pellissippi Campus in West Knox County on a 27,000-square-foot facility that will house art and media technologies classes. The college’s Media Technologies degree program includes four concentrations: Communication Graphics Technology, Photography, Video Production Technology and Web Technology.

The same day, community leaders Dee Bagwell Haslam and Jimmy Haslam announced they were contributing $1 million to the college, the largest donation in Pellissippi State’s history. The gift will be used to furnish and equip the art and media technologies building. The Tennessee Board of Regents, the college’s parent institution, recently approved naming the building the Bagwell Center for Media and Art in honor of Dee Haslam’s father, a pioneer in the media industry.

“We are extremely grateful that the Haslams think so highly of the college that they would invest in our programs,” said Allen Edwards, president of Pellissippi State. “Their generous gift will open new doors for our students.”

Edwards said the college’s goal is that the new facility would become “the premier media technology center in the country” to which people can come seeking degrees or short-term training in the field.

Pellissippi State hopes 2007 brings more new construction — this time in Blount County.

The current Blount County Center is located in the former Bungalow Elementary School in Alcoa. The building is old and Middlesettlements Road is scheduled for expansion, so the need to relocate the campus is imminent.

Nonetheless, the college must await word on planning and construction funds from the state before moving ahead with the project.

Details regarding the new location have yet to be finalized.

Of course, once buildings are constructed, they have to be furnished. The Haslams’ contribution will go a long way toward equipping the Bagwell Center for Media and Art at the Pellissippi Campus.

Beyond the Haslam gift, the Pellissippi State Foundation will begin a major fund-raising

campaign — “Connecting Communities, Changing Lives” — in April in search of further donations for equipping the new building, as well as for other critical needs of the college: the new campus in Blount County, the fledgling nursing program, the Foundation endowment fund and academic and student enrichment.

While buildings and up-to-date equipment provide a necessary framework for a quality education, Pellissippi State takes even greater pride in its academic program innovations and the corresponding growth opportunities they offer students.

Members of the college’s choral group, Variations, for example, will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity during spring break.

Accompanied by choral director Bill Brewer and other college faculty and administrators, the ensemble’s 34 students will travel to France in March.

In addition to performances in Cherbourg and Carentan, the group will cap off the trip by singing at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

“This endeavour will be life-changing for our students and chaperones alike,” Brewer said, “as we represent the college in France and experience the French culture firsthand. What a perfect opportunity to live out the college’s goals of internationalizing the curriculum and broadening the perspective of our students.”

While not all Pellissippi State students will have the opportunity to see Paris in the springtime, many were able to visit the beautiful but impoverished country of Haiti this academic year — at least through the pages of an extraordinary book.

Under the sponsorship of the Policy Center on the First Year of College, Pellissippi State launched a series of new projects in the fall of 2006 as part of its Foundations of Excellence

initiative.

A highlight of the initiative, which is designed to improve student learning, success and persistence, was the college’s first “Common Book Experience.”

With the start of classes, first-year students in select courses received a copy of Tracy Kidder’s “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” a non-fiction work about Dr. Paul Farmer, a brilliant physician who forwent a life of ease and materialism in his quest to bring healing to the world’s poorest people.

In addition to studying the book in a variety of first-year courses, students had the opportunity to participate in the college’s first President’s Convocation, an event that brought the college community together to celebrate the book’s inspirational message of hope.

The convocation attracted an audience of hundreds — thanks in part to the fact that fall 2006 enrollment reached 8,188, an all-time high in the college’s 32-year history.

Expansion of the college’s Dual Enrollment program, which gives qualified high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to take college courses at the same time

they are completing high

school requirements, contri-

buted to the boost in

enrollment.

During fall semester, faculty from the college taught 19 Dual Enrollment course sections at 12 area high schools. English, Spanish, and anatomy and physiology were offered, and American history was added spring semester, which started Jan. 16.

Knox County schools participating include Bearden, Carter, Catholic, Farragut, Halls, Karns, West and, as of spring semester, Austin-East.

In Blount County students at Alcoa, Heritage, Maryville, Maryville Christian and William Blount high schools also take part in the program.

The students not only benefit from an early introduction to college and earn credits toward graduation, but they also save money in the process. The state’s Dual Enrollment Grant provides each student $300 toward one course a semester.

Dual Enrollment, Foundat-ions of Excellence and other Pellissippi State academic programs will soon be under new direction. Following the retirement in December of James Bruns, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs, the college is conducting a search for his replacement and hopes to select a candidate before the end of spring semester. Anthony Wise, Liberal Arts department head, is serving as interim vice president.

 

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