Friday, December 12, 2014

Childcare Emergency Plan Project Recognized

Vol State has once again been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The honor goes to an innovative Service Learning Project that involved many Vol State classes. 

The 2014 roll recognizes 766 institutions nationwide for community service and Service Learning projects. Here is how the Honor Roll is described by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education, Campus Compact, and the Interfaith Youth Core.

“The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships.”

Congrats to faculty members James Brown and Penny Duncan and their students. Their Childcare Emergency Plan project was the one presented for consideration this year. It was one of the largest Service Learning projects ever attempted at Vol State, involving more than fifty students in several Vol State classes. The students prepared emergency planning kits for 25 child care centers in Sumner County. It’s tough for a small business or nonprofit to find the time or expertise needed to develop a plan.

“It’s designed to be tailored to each individual center,” said Duncan. “Child care directors can put in their own maps and their own emergency contact lists. The new standards that just became required last year by the state, include reunification plans, getting kids back with their parents, evacuation procedures and how to work with children with disabilities.”

“The Criminal Justice students provided all of the emergency plans, the evacuation plan, the reunification plan,” said James Brown, Criminal Justice instructor. “The education students prepared the process, to make sure the kids don’t get scared and they have activities to keep them occupied during an emergency. The most important part for the education students was probably the training plan. Without proper training, staff won’t know what to do in an emergency.”

Just a few of the students and their instructors are shown here at a presentation event held for the day care centers last summer.

The plan is available for any interested child care operator in Tennessee to download and print for free, on the Vol State website. Visit and then click on “Child Care Emergency Plan.”

Dr. Rick Parrent, Director of Service Learning, points out that this is the second year Vol State has been on the honor roll for Service Learning and community service projects.

Classified Staff Appreciation Award

Staff Council would like congratulate Rhonda Custer, the winner of the Classified Staff Appreciation Award for the month of November! Rhonda is the Secretary III in the Humanities Division.

The other nominees for the month of November were: Jesse Poindexter from the Livingston Campus and Tabatha Roll from the Office of Admissions.

Every month a winner is drawn from the pool of nominees who were seen offering exceptional service to the Vol State community. The award recipient receives a certificate of appreciation and a $20 gift card. Any Vol State employee can fill out the short nomination form to recognize any permanent classified staff employee by going to the Staff Council webpage.

Thank you for supporting this Staff Council initiative and your fellow coworkers!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dr. Faulkner: Celebrating Christmas Every Day

A few weeks ago I saw a sign that read, "Thanksgiving is not a day. It is a lifestyle."

What if the holidays were not dates on a calendar, but rather were our everyday lifestyle?

What if Hanukkah like celebrations of miracles and the acknowledgement of God's provision are routine?

What if the character traits of Kwanza are our daily pattern?  Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith are demonstrated daily.

What if the Christmas spirit of caring and giving continued all year?  Charity would be an everyday occurrence and peace on earth and good will toward men would be prominent.

Wanda and I wish you a blessed holiday season and a happy and prosperous new year.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gene Research Conference at Vol State in January

Databases of gene sequences are like a precious metal waiting to be mined by researchers. In January the Math and Science Division will be hosting a conference for educators to show refined techniques for using those databases to look for similarities in genes, inferring protein structure, location and function within a cell. This is exciting stuff for folks in biology. And it may mean a change in how we think about life on Earth.

"You're talking about millions of species on this planet," said associate professor Parris Powers. "Many species have 10 to 40 thousand different genes that code for as many as 100,000 proteins. This new research frontier of genomic and proteomic annotation are allowing biologists to reclassify organisms according to genomic characteristics."

That could mean a change in how we organize and classify the plant and animal world, which is a big deal for all of us.

Powers is organizing the January 8 and 9 Microbial Genome Annotation Network (MGAN) Workshop at Vol State. It will bring in 40 science educators from nine states. The goal is for the group to find new ways to teach biology utilizing gene databases to do genomic and proteomic annotation as problem based learning. Some of the members will be from the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) grant program. Others will come from colleges and universities across the country.

Vol State students are also taking part in the workshop. They are part of a new undergraduate research group that will begin exploring genomic annotation at Vol State in the spring semester.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dr. Faulkner: What I’m Thankful For

Roy Exum was a local columnist and Executive Vice President for the Chattanooga News – Free Press until it was sold in 2001.  His columns were always quite good and cast a critical eye on southern life, sports, and a variety of other topics.  My favorites of his columns were printed on Sundays before Thanksgiving.  Each year he wrote a column of 99 things for which he was thankful.  Here are a few of mine. 

I am thankful for:

1.      Medical science and the degree with which doctors are able to diagnose and treat illnesses both minor and major.
2.      Miracles which sometimes defy the medical logic and surprise the doctors.
3.      Changing seasons in Tennessee.  I really like that there is a noticeable difference in the four seasons without any of them being too severe.  I’ve often said I wouldn’t want to live where the weather was the same all the time.  We will see if I maintain that attitude in my declining years when year-around warmth beckons.
4.      Digital photography that allows me to take thousands of pictures at almost zero cost (beyond the cost of the device.)
5.      Modern technology that allows me to be in constant contact.  Is it a pain in the anatomy some times?  Absolutely.  But the benefits outweigh the down sides.
6.      Church services where there is ample opportunity for worship, praise, prayer, and learning.
7.      The diverse forests in Tennessee.  I really need an occasional dose of nature and fortunately it is never far away.
8.      Those who have served in the U.S.  Military.  All gave some.  Some gave all.
9.      The atmospheric phenomena of Mie Scattering and Rayleigh Scattering that result in the brilliant, colorful sunrises and sunsets so common here in Tennessee.
10.  The many places near here to get in a good walk.  (Station Camp Greenway, Hendersonville Greenway, Town Creek Greenway, Moss-Wright Park, and Bledsoe Creek State Park.)
11.  Music.
12.  Talented, gifted people that use their abilities to help others.
13.  Friends that you can call on at any time, day or night.
14.  Taking touch typing in high school.  It is probably the most important skill I acquired in those four years.
15.  The opportunity to hear the personal stories of hundreds of people who’s lives have been impacted by attending Vol State.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!
-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

Red Solo Cup Repeat

The Red Solo Cup award recognizes outstanding advising for Campus Connect orientation students. Once again, the award goes to the Social Science and Education Division. You may remember that they won the inaugural award last year. Retention Services Director Heather Harper started the Red Solo Cup award to remind everyone of how important academic advising is for new students. Dean Phyllis Foley and former Interim Dean Grady Eades accepted the award for the Division. We are told it is available for viewing in the Division office. Kudos to everyone in Social Science and Education.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Vol State in the News

The Tennessean is catching up with some of our news stories. Here's an article on Vol State science research students traveling to Washington to educate lawmakers on the importance of undergrad research.

Vol State Number 21 in Nation on Student Ranking Site has announced that Vol State placed number 21 in the nation, in terms of student satisfaction, for community and junior colleges for its 2013-2014 report. The measurement combines faculty ratings with campus ratings. More than 8,000 colleges and universities are listed on the site. This is the second year in a row that Vol State has placed in the top 25 nationally.

MTV runs the popular website that has more than 15 million ratings. It asks students to rate professors in terms of how helpful they are and how clear they are. Those categories are used to determine an overall quality score. The overall campus score is judged in several categories, including reputation, internet access, food, library, clubs, social life and overall happiness. Vol State scored four out of five for the campus and 3.83 out of five for the average faculty score.

The complete rankings can be found at

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Vol State Veterans Recognition Lunch

You don't have to go far at Vol State to find someone who has served their nation in the military. Vol State student, faculty and staff veterans were honored, along with veterans from the community, during a lunch today. The group represented all military branches and service spanning many decades and several wars.

Kody Sharman, the president of the Vol State Student Veterans of America chapter, explained the symbolism behind the POW-MIA table, traditionally set during any veterans meal. The chair is reserved for all of the service people held behind enemy lines or missing in action. The salt on one of the plates symbolizes the tears family members have shed.
Dr. Faulkner told the group that support of student veterans can come from everyone at Vol State, but especially from faculty and staff veterans. He asked Veterans Affairs Coordinator Ken Hanson to come up with ideas for how to visually show student veterans which faculty and staff members have served, in hopes that they could become mentors, and even just a friendly person to listen to problems, for the students.

We thanks all veterans on this day for their service. 

For more information on Veterans Affairs at Vol State visit the web page:

Dr. Faulkner: Nostalgia

I recently attended a meeting in Clarksville.  Driving down a street there I passed McReynolds - Nave and Larson Funeral home.  Parked in the front drive was a shiny red 1957 Chevrolet ambulance. I was reminded of the time in my life when all the ambulance services were run by the local mortuary and not by the fire-department or a municipal emergency department. It got me in a nostalgic frame of mind.  I thought about many things that were true in my childhood and early adult life and how the "younger" generation doesn't even know about them.

This reminded me of the Beloit College Mind Set List. Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college each fall. The list is prepared by Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride.

So I concluded I would prepare my own nostalgia list.  I have to warn you that if you remember all these things you may need to join me in old foggy land.

So do you remember. . . .

Ambulances were run by the local funeral home? 
Police cars did not have blue lights?
How to play Far Away with Coke bottles?
The Three Stooges?
The name of Roy Rogers' horse?
Needing Butch Wax to maintain your flat top?
If the car was really full you could always put a kid on the shelf behind the back seat?
Someone had to get up and walk across the room to change the TV channel?
A party line had nothing to do with a celebration?
If you wanted to look up something you went to the encyclopedia or dictionary?
The Sears -Roebuck catalog was the only way to shop without going to the store?
Teachers had paddles that had nothing to do with boating?
The only music in your car was AM or YOU?
Tennis shoes only came in black or white?
A nine volt transistor radio made music portable.
The initial release of the Hula-Hoop, Slinky, and Silly Putty.
The device you used to make a call actually looked like the phone icon on your smart device.
Grocery items had a price instead of a bar code.
It was all about Hi-fi not Wi-fi.

A trip down memory lane is fun, but I don't want to live there because some of the good old days weren't really all that good.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner