Archive for May, 2006

Reflections of a President

by Nan Krichinsky

“I might be here five more years,” said Allen Edwards reflecting on his tenure as president of Pellissippi State Technical Community College.

He came here 13 years ago to help complete the transformation of the college from a technical institute to a full community college. That meant developing solid, college-level programs that would be transferable and accepted anywhere as well as implementing resources to help the faculty make the transition to a technological age.

Edwards called Pellissippi State’s faculty as competent as anybody in the country in the use of technology and integrating it in their teachings. He is proud that Pellissippi State has evolved into a comprehensive college.

“Our students are accepted pretty widely by colleges across the country,” he said.

Edwards has seen some difficult times over the years. “I’ve never worked at Pellissippi when times were flush,” he said.

Four years ago the governor cut the budget. Edwards said, “We had to lay off people; we had to cut back operating dollars.” Tuition increased to cover and offset the differences.

Once the tuition was raised, the college lost a lot of older students who had full-time jobs and were taking evening courses.

“They just don’t come. It’s too much money,” said Edwards. It changed the demographics of the college.

Today’s students are younger and bring diverse academic abilities to the classroom.

“We’re an open door college—if you have a high school diploma, we’ll accept you.” The challenge for the faculty is to meet the expectations of everybody. Yet, with all of its challenges, the job of college president comes with great rewards.

“It’s a wonderful community and wonderful campus climate,” said Edwards, beaming. He described faculty and staff as engaged and dedicated to the mission of the college.

“The highlight of the year for me is always graduation,” he said, “when you finally see your dreams fulfilled.”

Edwards has to keep his eye not only on pressing issues of today but on future trends and needs of the community to set the direction for the college over the next 10 years.

He has already begun to write the next chapter of his life once he leaves Pellissippi State.

“I work a lot in the international arena, and I’m going to continue to do that,” he said. He helped plan and will be attending a relationship-building conference this summer in South Africa sponsored by the International Association of Colleges.

Edwards believes strongly in the importance of being involved not only with our own communities but connecting, understanding and participating with the ways of the world.

“I’d rather be organizing conferences, bringing people together, talking about ideas and trying to get people engaged in discussions to make a better world,” he said. “I hope to have a good time doing it. That’s probably what’s left for me to do.”

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Angela Davis stepping down as ABSA president

by John Hamilton

Angela Davis, current president of the Active Black Student Association, will be stepping down due to her upcoming graduation.Â

The organization will be holding leadership training over the summer to prepare a new leader for the group.

Davis said the training will help encourage new leaders to make themselves known and to be confident and friendly when dealing with faculty and staff.

During the spring semester, the ABSA has been active in encouraging African-American participation in college as well as participating in tutoring at West View Elementary.

“That was great because it gave us publicity and was good for student esteem and college preparation,” Davis said of the West View program. Members of the ABSA would visit West View on the first Thursday of each month where they would observe and help students. They would donate books for the children as well as give Pellissippi State t-shirts to parents.

The group would also offer help to parents who wanted to return to college, according to Davis. Davis also says the ABSA offered options to parents for improving their placement test scores.

The group works to improve the experience of African-American students. “Even though it’s called the Active Black Student Association, we don’t discriminate against anyone who wants to participate,” Davis says. “We want to encourage African-American students to feel comfortable here.”

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

National Geographic photographer speaks at PSTCC

by Amanda Henry

“The thing I love most about this business is the diversity,” said Jay Dickman, an award-winning photographer for National Geographic. Dickman was a guest speaker on April 26 at the Performing Arts Center.

Dickman got his start by working as a photographer at a local newspaper. He spent the past 35 years capturing images from over 65 countries in the world with his camera. “The hardest part is being away from my family,” Dickman said. He said that he would spend as long as three or four months on his photo shoots without being able to see his wife and son. Â

His career has taken him to the Ukraine, China, El Salvador, Vietnam, Italy, Africa, Papua New Guinea and many other countries.  In 1983, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo essay, “Life and Death in El Salvador.”Â

During his presentation, he showed slides of some of his work. His photos ranged from giraffes in Africa, to the tallest waterfall in the world in South America, to pictures of children killed in protests in Asia. “The tool we have in our hands is a tremendous thing,” said Dickman. “It’s like the lense protects me to allow me a closer look.”Â

Dickman has spent a week under the Artic ice in a submarine, spent three months living in a stone-age village, lived with cannibals and survived a sinking boat on the Amazon.

Dickman has shot six Super Bowls and has written a book, “Perfect Digital Photography.” He has also worked for Time, Newsweek, Geo and Time and Leisure.

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

PSTCC president appointed to the Tennessee Technology Corridor Development Authority

by Nan Krichinsky

Pellissippi State’s president Allen Edwards recently accepted another opportunity to serve the west Knoxville community.

Knox County mayor, Mike Ragsdale, nominated Edwards to serve on the board of the Tennessee Technology Corridor Development Authority (TTCDA). Governor Phil Bredesen made the appointment official in March.Â

The Tennessee Technology Corridor is a geographic area covering 7,000 acres through west Knox County along Pellissippi Parkway, north of I-40/75. The principal aim of the corridor is to attract, expand and support technology-based economic development while preserving the area’s forested ridges, rolling hills, and broad valleys.Â

“I was invited mainly because of the institution I represent,” Edwards said.

One of the reasons the college was put in this location was to support business and industry along the area. It was important to this plan when the TTCDA was formed in 1983.Â

Particular guidelines and rules were established to keep the corridor intact and to protect the interest of the public.Â

Building proposals from potential developers are brought before the board for consideration. The board’s role is to approve the plan as presented, or allow for waivers if the building plan does not meet the design guidelines.

Edwards said he would not be in favor of exceptions that would destroy the vitality of the area.Â

“Just take a look at our campus. We’ve been the hallmark for the way things ought to look and feel,” he said.Â

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

Foundation of Excellence chooses book for incoming freshmen

by B. J. Blair

Incoming freshmen taking English 1010 and possibly some other courses will all be reading the same book starting in the fall of 2006.

The first book out of four that is open to a vote by the faculty at Pellissippi is “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World” by Tracy Kidder. The second is Sharyn McCrumb’s “She Walks These Hills.”

The other two possibilities are Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster,” and Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal.”Â

Pellissippi is a part of a project called the Foundation of Excellence. This is a project that will be testing what is effective and what is not with current college practices. It is also the project that is responsible for choosing the four books that the staff will be voting on for newcomers to read next year.

According to PSTCC’s web page for the Foundation of Excellence, Pellissippi will “actually grade ourselves and develop specific plans for the actions we envision for making the first year of college at Pellissippi State a national model of excellence.”

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

Teacher education program honored

by Courtney Baxter

Pellissippi State was recently honored during an Atlanta conference of the National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs.

Pellissippi’s teacher education program is a program where students can receive a degree in elementary education without ever having to leave the Pellissippi campus. These students finish their degree at Tennessee Technological University, which is next to Pellissippi’s Division Street campus.

“This program is very appealing to students, particularly because they do not have to transfer to a huge university,” said Meg Moss, program coordinator for Teacher Education.

Pellissippi’s Teacher Education program in math and science was honored with a national Best Practices in Teacher Preparation Award.

“We have a grant through the National Science Foundation to improve the math and science parts of our teacher education program. So, that is why our efforts and the award are centered around math and science,” said Moss.

The award was presented by Rod Risley, executive director of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. Moss and Jim Bruns, vice-president for academic and student affairs, accepted the award on behalf of Pellissippi.

“I think the award is recognition of a lot of work and enthusiasm by a lot of people. I think it assures students that they are receiving a quality education,” said Moss.

Sunday, May 7th, 2006