College President on the Focus Act

College President Dr. Anthony Wise talks about new possibilities under Tennessee’s new Focus Act.

On June 8, Bill Haslam signed the Focus Act, which split Tennessee’s six major universities from TBR (Tennessee Board of Regents), enabling them to form independent governing boards of directors. TBR now presides over the state’s 13 community colleges and 26 technical colleges.

Tennessee state legislature has passed the Focus Act in order to better achieve its “Drive to 55” goal, which aims to help 55 percent of adults in Tennessee to achieve a post-secondary degree by 2025. “If we are going to hit the ‘Drive to 55,’ it is going to be to be because community and technical colleges carry a significant portion of the load,” said College President Dr. Anthony Wise.

“For the most part, the way those system was organized those institutions [state universities, community colleges and technical colleges] were all in one pot,” said Wise. “One of the things that the Board of Regents has to decide is how it is going to govern the two types of colleges it will now have,” said Wise.

Wise recounts having attended only one meeting in his 5 years as college president where presidents from all of the state’s community colleges and technical colleges were in attendance.

Wise says it is not certain whether the community colleges and technical colleges will be granted certain autonomy, or whether the institutions will “begin to align” in terms of curricula as well as shared facilities and resources.

Wise says he was approached by the Focus Act’s transition task force for feedback about moving forward, to which he shared ideals he felt were crucial to the success of the college.

Chief among his concerns was that students at Pellissippi would continue to have a clear and smooth transition to state universities. “We need to make sure that universities do not start creating barriers by changing curricula and requiring new courses of community college students, said Wise. Nearly 60 percent of Pellissippi students are in transfer programs to state universities.

Another of his concerns was the compartmentalized budgets and building projects of universities. THEC (Tennessee Higher Education Commission) will now be submitting the TBR budget alongside, new budgets from each of the state’s universities.

Wise also felt that the decision may allow for greater improvement elsewhere. “It gives the chance for the Board itself and the board members to become more engaged in what happens at community and technical colleges,” said Wise.

“I look at what happened in other states like Kentucky that went through a similar process, and it actually elevated the profile of community and technical colleges,” said Wise.

“I think there is an opportunity for the Board to become more engaged with individual institutions about what kind of help and support they need. We are fortunate in terms of our size and our budget, said Wise. “I would like to see a Tennessee Board of Regents that provides state-wide for community and technical colleges,” Wise went on to say.

New state boards consist of:

  • institution alumni
  • local business leaders
  • community leaders
  • local politicians
  • One faculty member
  • One current student of the instituion

Focus Act looking forward to (2016-2017)

  • July 1, 2016, Focus Act took effect
  • Sept., 2016, university board members appointed by Governor Haslam
  • Dec., 2016,  boards will meet to consider TBR universities’ proposals for substantive change of governance
  • March, 2017, TN General Assembly takes up confirmation of board members
  • April,  2017, THEC provides orientation for university board members
  • June, 2017, New university boards convene, adopt policies and assume governance of universities

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

New building being planned for Pellissippi’s Hardin Valley Campus

By Peyton Jollay

Pellissippi is planning a new building for its Hardin Valley Campus.

“We have just found out that we have a project on the TBR (Tennessee Board of Regents) capital project list for $27.2 million on this campus,” said College President Dr. Anthony Wise.

To meet completion costs, the college must raise 10 percent of the funds through the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation.

The Foundation is a college affiliated organization which aids in raising funds for capital projects such as buildings and equipment, as well as providing scholarship opportunities for students.

“Hopefully that project will begin moving in the next year or so, and we will have a new building three or four years down the road,” said Wise.

The primary purpose of the new building will be to house updated science labs for the campus. Existing science labs in the Lamar Alexander Arts and Sciences Building will be removed and replaced in an effort to consolidate all of the arts disciplines on campus into a single building.

Wise stated that the project is the first in a list of possible renovation projects which are to be slated at a later date.

Wise indicated that the college seeks to modernize the Pellissippi State Technical Library to better meet the needs of the 21st century student. He also indicated the possibility of building an animation design studio and a sound design studio in the Bagwell Center for Media and Art.

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Presidential path to student success

By Michael Courtney

Dr. Wise has a number of different goals, all of which are based around student success. He has a tagline, “achieving success one student at a time,” which serves as a motivator to he and his staff. Graduating and transferring are the main goals that Dr. Wise has for his faculty and administrators to pass along to students. Last year Pellissippi had a record number of graduates, breaking graduating student numbers for the sixth year in a row.

After a strong start, Tennessee Promise seems to be very beneficial to the success of youth who may not have had the opportunity without the program. Wise said, believes that as the program grows, the amount of mentors for these youths needs to grown along side. This year, 67 percent of students attending Pellissippi’s Strawberry Plains campus are first year attendees. These mentors will work to ensure that the students will be ready for the next step after Pellissippi, wether that be transferring to a four-year institution or graduating and moving into the work force.

Wise believes that Tennessee Promise’s future is bright, with 1,700 students taking advantage of the program this year alone. These growing numbers will make finding mentors for Tennessee Promise students even more challenging, but Wise believes that this is not a pipe dream.

Wise is dedicated to providing opportunities for student success. He actively searches for local business and industry partnerships to help with networking for the college. This year, Pellissippi opened a magnet high school named Career Magnet Academy in Strawberry Plains. The school allows students to leave with a two year certificate in one of four different magnets, that can be used to further their education or join the workforce.

During his remaining time as president of Pellissippi State Community College, Wise hopes to see continuous growth in student numbers with graduation rates rising alongside that amount. Wise would also like to finish what he started with the adult student strategic plan, in hopes to draw more adult students who may not have thought they could obtain a post secondary education. I asked Dr. Wise where he sees the college in five years, he replied, “Wether it be 14,000 or 15,000 students on the campus, I hope that we continue to improve on the way we serve our students and create opportunities for them. I’d like to enhance the ways that they can be successful by making sure we continue to have great marks for our students who are going directly into the workforce and prepare our graduates to transfer. That’s really what it’s all about.”

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Pellissippi president looks forward to master plan

by Nicole Hedger

Pellissippi State’s proposed future plans offer more than just additional educational opportunities.

President Anthony Wise said one of the things he is most looking forward to about Pellissippi’s master plan is that “not only does it focus on trying to create classroom and office space, but also space for students to gather both in the buildings and out in the courtyard.”

Wise said the main focus of the proposed new facilities is “to make sure we continue to provide the support for students in order to be successful academically and to help them achieve their goals.” Along with this goal he accented his desire to serve students by adding a series of quads and places for students to gather outside of the classroom.

The first building on the master plan will teaching labs and faculty offices to “help absorb some of the growth that has taken place over the course of the last decade,” said Wise.  With these improvements he said he desired not only  “to make the campus blend in with the community, but also make it attractive for students.”


Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Veteran Programs

by Jonathan Rook

Many student veterans have wondered why there are no military-related organizations on campus.

The answer is simple. Pellissippi State’s President Dr. Allen Edwards, who served in artillery himself said, “There have been many organizations for veterans throughout the years. The problem is that when the student members graduate, there is no leadership left to maintain an active organization.”

He also pointed out that this was the case for previous honor societies as well. There has even been an outdoor club that had 70 members, but once the members graduated no one kept the club up and running for other students to consider.

There are hundreds of veterans or future military members that pass through Pellissippi annually. These students could greatly benefit from either a ROTC or veterans program that would substantially contribute to their career.

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Presidential Candidates to be Interviewed

by Johnny Rook

The finalists for the president’s position are to be interviewed on campus the week of April 11.

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan said that he has been pleased with the process and believed the committee has been diligent and thorough with looking at the 42 initial candidates who applied for the job.

After an in-depth process of elimination as to who will replace Dr. Allen Edwards, the selection committee has narrowed the choice down to three candidates.

The three remaining include James L. Barrott, vice president for technology at Chattanooga State Community College; David H. Devier, vice president of academic and student affairs at Clark State Community College; and Anthony Wise, vice president, Division of Learning at Pellissippi State.

After the campus interviews in April, Morgan will talk with each member of the selection committee before making his final decision.

Monday, April 11th, 2011

President explains vision of PSTCC future

by Jillian Edmonds

Dr. Allen Edwards, president of Pellissippi, explained that his vision for the future of Pellissippi is based on what the public needs the college for.

“You have to take a look at what the community needs. If you can discover that…you try to put in place programs that are rigorous and relevant that will lead to productive lives,” said Dr. Edwards.

Dr. Edwards said that one of his goals is to keep the college accessible as possible. For instance, by continuing to have campuses in different areas as well as offering classes online.

There will be more diverse programs offered in the future, such as a teaching program where people could get a bachelor’s degree in education. Dr. Edwards explained the college has a responsibility to help provide teachers to the education system.

“Knox County schools hire between five to six hundred teachers a year. A lot are just to replace people that are retiring or leaving. The University of Tennessee produces one hundred new teachers a year. That is not enough to fill the gaps,” said Dr. Edwards.

Some of the programs Dr. Edwards suggested would serve the community include a bachelor’s degree program, business administration and criminal justice.

Dr. Edwards said he is first and foremost “always trying to keep things accessible.” Especially for students who did not perform well early on in their academic careers who want access to higher education.

“We should never have to be a closed-door prestigious institution,” said Dr. Edwards.

Saturday, April 25th, 2009