Monday, December 17, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: Undiscovered Geniuses

Undiscovered Geniuses

            I recently attended the celebration for four of our students that won national awards from the TRIO Quest program.  Lisa Napier, Kayla Cormier, Melissa Majors, and Wade Browne were honored for their prose and poetry submissions.  Each submission was accompanied by a picture by the students.  Respectively they received an honorable mention, a bronze medal, and two gold medals.  Keep in mind this is a national competition meaning submissions came in from all across the U.S.  I had the opportunity to read each of the submissions and they were excellent.  The students wrote about things they knew, things they loved and cared about, things about which they were passionately interested.  My gauge of good writing is if I can personally connect and I surely did so with these four works.

            Congratulations are also in order for our TRIO program here at the college.  TRIO is a Federal grant funded project for student support services.   Our program is directed by Andrea Boddie with the very effective staff of Shannon Freeman, Carol Bazenet, Mary Malone, and Jean Colello.  Not only did these folks have the joy of seeing the students succeed, our program was acknowledged as the Top TRIO Quest program for 2012 and Shannon received the TRIO Quest coach award.

            The dictionary defines genius as exceptional intellectual or creative power.  These four students exhibited their genius for writing.  Mark Twain said, “Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others. “ How sad it would have been if these students had never discovered their power to use the written word to touch other lives.  They would have been the poorer and so would we.

            But they did discover their genius.  They came to Volunteer State and they learned and explored.  They were encouraged by faculty and staff and by the folks in the TRIO center and we are all the richer for it.  Isn’t that what we are all about – helping students discover their genius?  Whether it is writing or science, art or business, math or health care, or any of multiple other disciplines, we give students the chance to find the place where they can succeed and where they can shine – where they can be a genius.

            Everyone get one genius.

           -Dr. Jerry Faulkner

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jim Hiett says Retirement is for the Birds (and the Grandchildren)

Jim Hiett has to pause when considering the many hats he has worn in higher education over the years. His retirement this semester brings to a close more than 30 years of service at Vol State.
“I started teaching in the 1960s,” Hiett said. “I was a charter faculty member at a community college in Kentucky. I taught at a couple of other community colleges. I didn’t think I would do more teaching, but Vol State pulled me in. I didn’t think I would be here for more than a year or two.”

Hiett began work as an adjunct instructor in psychology in 1980. Over the years he has also served as a counselor, chair of a division and assistant vice president of Academic Affairs since the 1990s. Each new position has brought new challenges.
“I think the fact that we reorganized several times since I have been here has helped my longevity. I was never bored,” he said. “In this job I have a lot of contact with students. I enjoy working with students. I’m really more interested in working on the academic side of the struggle.”

As assistant VP Hiett works with many students who are struggling academically, helping them to get back on track, if possible.
“Students here don’t take anything for granted. Most of our students have to sacrifice to be here. That’s something that people at private schools, and even big universities, might not understand.”

When asked about co-workers who have influenced him, or stood out in his memory, the list is long, but there is one name at the top.

“I think of Dr. Ramer first. He was a model of what a community college president should be and such an ethical and generous person.”

Jim is retiring at the same time as his wife, Sharon, who works at Belmont University. They have plenty of adventures planned. Tops on the retirement agenda is more time with family, and especially grandkids. However, Jim and Sharon are passionate birders, meaning they take bird watching quite seriously. They have traveled extensively over the years to observe different wild birds in their habitats.
“My wife is a writer and I pretend to be a writer sometimes,” he said. “We’re working on a book about our birding adventures, like how we nearly died in the woods birding.”

Birders keep close track of how many different species they have observed over the years.
“We’re closing in on 600 birds in North America, that’s out of more than 900. We might try and see all of the birds you can see in North America.”

The loss of another long-time employee is tough for the college. Hiett has been an important resource when it comes to institutional memory. His sense of humor will also be sorely missed.
“This is a good place to work,” he said. “I always say that this is a good clean job and someone has to do it.”

Business and Finance Open House

Forget those diet plans. It's that time of the year. The Business and Finance Holiday Open House is always a highlight of the season. Here are some pictures:


Monday, December 10, 2012

Service Learning: Early Childhood Parent Education Meeting

Gallatin Daycare recently partnered with students from Penny Duncan’s Early Childhood Education 2040 Family Dynamics class to provide a parent education meeting.

The students met with Gallatin Daycare director, Linda Boyles, to discuss the needs of the families at the childcare. A “needs assessment questionnaire” was created by the students to give to the parents to determine the family’s needs and interests. As a result, the students planned an informational meeting providing local resources in the area and contacted a speaker; P.J. Davis from Shalom Zone. The students donated food and toys themselves and made baskets to give away as door prizes. There were 15 parents who attended and each went home with a basket or gift. Some of the local resources presented included the Gallatin Public Library, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Free Books, Gallatin’s Regional Intervention Program, Last Minute Toy Store, Shalom Zone, Gallatin Care’s and Hendersonville’s Samaritan Center.

Paramedic Training Success

First responders need to keep their skills sharp and learn the latest techniques. Continuing Education is one way to keep current. A recent class run by the EMS Program and the Health Sciences Center of Emphasis went way beyond the usual weekend course. The Paramedic-Critical Care course is over 120 hours of intensive didactic, lab, and clinical experiences. The course is designed for experienced paramedics who will be providing critical care transports between medical facilities. The paramedics train to care for patients with extensive medical issues that require ventilator support, IV admixtures, chest tubes, and central IV monitoring.

The latest group of Paramedic-Critical Care students had a 100% pass rate, pretty amazing when you consider the rigorous nature of the course. This was the second successful course in two years (last year’s pass rate was 83%). Art Bratcher and the faculty provided outstanding instruction in conjunction with the administration and staff at Centennial Heart and Vascular Center. Dr. Bob Myers served as course Medical Director, clinical instructor, and guest lecturer. Congratulations to EMS Education faculty David Linn, Brandie Park, and Kevin Alspaugh for obtaining their critical care certification.

Vol State in the News

The Criminal Justice program has been in the news on several occasions recently, and for several different reasons. Check out this Channel 2 story on their texting awareness effort:

And the Tennessean for the new Fast Track degree program:

The announcement of the new Entertainment Media Production degree program went statewide  and appeared on many media outlets thanks to the Associated Press. Here is the Channel 5 version of the story:

Dr. Faulkner: Communication


            December 3 was the 20th anniversary of the text message.  The first text message was “Merry Christmas.”  That brought to mind some other first messages.  The first experimental telegraph line between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore was demonstrated on May 24, 1844 and commenced with the transmission of Morse's first message, "What hath God wrought!"  On August 16, 1858 the first message sent via Morse code across the Trans-Atlantic cable was, "Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace and good will toward men."  "Mr. Watson. Come Here. I need you," was the first telephone transmission by Alexander Graham Bell on March 10, 1876.  One of the earliest television broadcasts occurred January 13, 1928, broadcasting from the General Electric factory in Schenectady, NY, and consisted of an image of a Felix the Cat doll, rotating on a turntable.

            On a side note “OMG” is not an invention of the twitter-verse.  The first recorded instance of the abbreviation has been found in a 1917 letter from one Lord Fisher to Winston Churchill.

            Communication has certainly come a long way.  One recent evening I marveled at the fact that I was sitting in my living room with iPad in hand, wirelessly connected to the Internet to view pictures of the Martian landscape taken by the recently landed Curiosity.  In the December 4th issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education blog there is a report of a class at George Mason University where the entire classroom discussion took place via Twitter.

            The question is, “While speed and volume have improved, has the quality of communication improved?”  I think not.  If we are to believe what experts tell us - that a large percentage of communication goes beyond just the transmission of words - then all these devices are leaving out a large portion of what is intended to be conveyed. 

            I’ve been characterized as being overly fond of face to face meetings and I admit this is a preferable means of communication.  I do realize, though, that e-mail, texting, and Twitter and other forms of electronic communication are here to stay.  So I have an obligation to use them effectively and efficiently. 

            In our recent sessions exploring what we can do to help students succeed, one of words that was prominent was “communication.”  So let’s all ask ourselves, “What can I do to communicate more effectively with students?  With co-workers?  With the community around us?

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner 

Friday, December 7, 2012



Vol State's First Lady, Wanda Faulkner along with Foundation Trustees Richard Rowlett and Eric Jackson determined a winner among offices across campus for the Employee Relations Committee Holiday Door Contest.  Competition was stiff and attempts at bribing were evident once again this year.  Many offices pulled out all the stops to put their best foot forward.  The results were announced by Len Assante at a special caroling event in the Great Hall of the Ramer Administration Building with refreshments.  The photographer did not vote.  The judges really got into the spirit of the holidays, too!

Grand Category (Red - Door, Plus Interior)

First Place "Wish Factory", The Foundation Office


Second Place "Camp Records", Records and Registration

Green Category (Door Plus)

First Place, Information Technology

Second Place, Business Office


Blue Category (Door Only)

First Place, Math & Science Office

Second Place, Human Resources


Our thanks goes out to everyone who participated!  Additional entries are featured below:



Office of Student Life and Diversity


Continuing Education

EMT / Paramedic

Plant Ops

Public Relations

Division of Humanities

Happy Holidays from the Employee Relations Committee!!!

A Point in Time

A Point in Time

An unusual event is occurring on Wednesday of next week.  At twelve minutes past noon (or midnight) it will be 12:12 12/12/12.  This sort of numeration will not occur again until one minute after one o’clock on January 1, 2101 (01:01 01/01/01) and likely not in any of our lifetimes.  So this is a unique moment in our lifetime.

Some have predicted that the world will end next Wednesday.  I know some students wouldn’t mind not taking another final exam.  A British citizen using the alter-ego of Andronicos ( ) has established an educational web site where he proposes solutions to all the world’s problems by 12/12/12.

In reality every day is filled with unique moments for when the moment is past it will never come again and can never be reclaimed in this lifetime.  So what will we do with the unique moments in our lives?

Will we:

  • celebrate them?  
  • use them to do great things?  
  • use a moment to tell someone you love them?
  • encourage a friend or coworker?
  • comfort the sad?
  • lift the spirits of the downtrodden?

What will you do with your unique moments?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: Education in 30 Years

Education in 30 Years

            For many years I have subscribed to a free magazine titled Training. It is a publication directed at professional corporate trainers. I became aware of it by accident but soon realized that we are in essentially the same business and that there were things we could learn from the corporate world.  In the November / December issue Bob Pike reflects on The 30_Year View of education.  Here is the introduction to his article.

USA Today recently celebrated its 30th birthday.  That edition of the newspaper contained both a backward view for 30 years and a forward view.  I read with a great deal of interest the forward view – especially when it started talking about education.
In a nutshell, the predictions are:
1.     Grades will be left behind.
2.     Learning will be tailored
3.     Learning will be high tech.
4.     Learning will be fun.
5.     Learning will never stop.
6.     The human element will remain important.

As we survey the landscape of education, I have to agree with these predictions.  More and more emphasis is on demonstrating competency rather than assigning a grade.  We can see the beginnings in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and the Kahn Academy.  Just a few days ago we saw in the media that Vanderbilt will join a coalition of 10 well know universities offering open, online courses.  We can demonstrate that the tailored, high tech approach works in our own emporium model for learning support.

The challenge is to adopt these all across the college.  So I challenge the faculty -  which of these are already true of your classes and what will you do in the future to move in this direction?

December and January Calendar

Nov. 15-
Dec. 16

Miranda Herrick Art Exhibit, Ramer Great Hall 7am-9pm Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday


Christmas at Vol State -seasonal music concert, Caudill Hall Wemyss Auditorium, 7:30pm, Suggested $5 donation for music scholarships

December 1

Christmas at Vol State -seasonal music concert, Caudill Hall Wemyss Auditorium, 7:30pm
Suggested $5 donation for music scholarships


Christmas for the Kids Cafeteria 2pm


Honors Student Presentations
Pickel 118 12:30pm


Festival of Lights Cafeteria 11am

December 24- Jan. 1

Campus closed for holidays

January 17

Spring classes begin

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: Six Words

Six Words

            In 2006, journalist Larry Smith founded an on-line magazine called SMITH.  It was one of the first examples of personal media.  One quote refers to it as “a gigantic party to which everyone is invited to come, listen, and contribute their own personal story.”

            In 2007 SMITH partnered with a 5 month-old start up called Twitter to promote a reader contest:  Tell us your life in six words.  The prize was an iPod.

            The six-word memoir blossomed into books, events, t-shirts, comics, games and publications.  Millions of people have created and posted six-word memoirs.  For example Stephen Colbert posted, “Well, I thought it was funny.”

            So what’s the point?  In a time when we often see an abundance of words and even simple things can become highly complex, perhaps really important things should be distilled to as few words as possible. 

Here is my challenge to you.  Express the Vol State mission in six words.  You may send them by e-mail direct to my office or drop them into one of the suggestion boxes around campus.  You will have two weeks to submit your suggestion.

One of the SMITH editors, Rachel Ferschleiser offers some tips to get started:

Be specific.

Be honest.

Forget the thesaurus.

Use your speaking voice.

Experiment with structure.

Stop trying so hard.

You have two weeks to make your submission.  I will share some of the best with everyone in a future blog.  Unless you request to remain anonymous, I will share your name as well.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: Advising


Forty years ago, Terry O’Banion proposed a model for academic advising.  It appeared in what was then known as the Junior College Journal (1972) and has since been adopted and adapted by multiple community colleges and universities.  In an article in the October / November issue of the Community College Journal, O’Banion offers an edited and updated version of the original. 

What follows is quoted from the article:

The process of academic advising is composed of five steps:

1.      Explore Life Goals.  A college education should ensure that every student has and opportunity to ask the questions; Who am I?  Where am I going? What difference does it make?

2.      Explore Vocational Goals.  Vocational goals are life goals extended into the world of work.

3.      Choose a Program.  Once the college has provided an opportunity for students to consider life and vocational goals . . . the student must choose a program.  At a community college with a diverse student body, the process of choosing a program staggers the imagination.

4.      Choose Courses.  Once a program is selected, students must choose courses for the immediate term and perhaps even for subsequent terms.

5.      Schedule Courses.  Deciding when to take courses is no simple task, either.

O’Banion goes on to propose that the best approach to advising is a team approach - one that involves the student, faculty, professional counselors, and special personnel including student assistants and community volunteers.

I admit that as a faculty advisor, I seldom achieved the higher levels of advising, spending most of my precious student interaction time concentrating on numbers 4 and 5.  This spring we are giving special emphasis to advising.  As I shared from this article in an e-mail a few days ago, “Academic Advising is the second-most important function in the community college.”

You can read the full article at

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: Convergent Events

Convergent Events

            Two completely unrelated events recently converged to prepare me for Thanksgiving.  The first was the fact that it was the day after the election and the second was a presentation program by the Humphrey’s Fellows.

            November 7 was the day after the local, state, and national elections.  Regardless of the outcome, it was almost as if there was a collective sigh of relief that the campaigns were over.  Many of us empathized with the little girl in the viral video who through her tears expressed that she was “tired of Obamaand Romney.” Even the local elections this year were worrisome.  At all levels there was too much anger, innuendo, vitriol, and downright false statements.

            On that same day, I was able to be in the program where 6 of the Humphrey’s Fellows gave presentations on their home countries.  If you are not familiar with the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program you can learn more at this website.  In a nutshell, as quoted from their web page, “The Humphrey Program brings young and mid-career professionals from designated countries to the United States for a year of non-degree graduate-level study, leadership development, and professional collaboration with U.S. counterparts.”  Vol State partners with Vanderbilt University in the Humphrey’s Program.  The presentations I heard were by Fellows from Bahrain, Liberia, Myanmar (2), Niger, and Nigeria.

            Poverty is extensive in many of these countries with some living on an average income of one dollar per day.  One country reported an 85% unemployment rate.  Most of the fellows are associated with education in one form or another.  Here again things are vastly different than in the U.S.  One country reported a first grade dropout rate of almost 12%.  Still another showed photos of schools where there is one teacher for over 140 students meeting in a dirt floored shed.

            The Fellows have been in the U.S. for a few months now and have had the chance to follow our election process.  Almost all made direct mention of how much they envied our process.  They remarked about how we were able to choose a leader without a military coup.  One remarked that there were not elections in their home country but rather “selections” of the chosen candidate.  In some of their countries the form of government is a complete monarchy.  Others have had multiple coups, violent dictators and where democracy is emerging the military still has the right to suspend freedoms and dissolve the parliament.  When asked what we as U.S. citizens could do to help their countries, they responded that we should support their efforts to bring democracy to their homes.

            This is where the Thanksgiving kicks in.  As I sat there listening to their stories, I was reminded that I am fortunate to live in the greatest country in the World.  Yes we have our challenges but nothing that compares with the challenges these people face daily.  Despite our individual leanings in the election, we elected leaders without a coup, without military intervention, without murder in the streets.  We have the highest standard of living in the world and 7.9% unemployment doesn’t sound too bad.  An in this nation when things are really bad, we pull together.  I’m reminded of the recent images of a very Republican Governor of New Jersey and a very Democratic President of the U.S. walking through the devastation of hurricane Sandy and working together to bring relief. 

            As we approach this season of the year, I hope we will all stop and give thanks for all the blessings we have and for the fact that we live in the United States of America.  God bless America.



Monday, November 5, 2012

Dr. Faulkner: EPIC

This blog kicks-off a series of pieces in the Insider from Vol State President Dr. Jerry Faulkner.
Too Epic to Fail

On Friday, Oct. 26, I visited Springfield High School to join the Springfield Middle School 7th grade students as they received a glimpse of their EPIC FUTURE!   The meeting was the kick-off event for a seven year Gear-Up program.  The grant funded program is designed to increase the college – going culture of a school and community.  This 7th grade cohort will receive support and encouragement through their sophomore year in college.  Volunteer State is pleased to be a part of this grant by providing thousands of dollars of in-kind support for the effort.

As you may imagine it was a lively event with approximately 200 seventh grade students in attendance.  The theme is built around the word “epic.”  The students were reminded that synonyms of epic include impressive, majestic, great, and heroic.  Whenever the word “epic” was used in the presentation, the students responded by shouting, “I am!”  Every student received a t-shirt that said, “I’m too EPIC to fail.”

The creators of the grant have incorporated EPIC as an acronym for some powerful phrases:

Educational Persistence Is Critical

Every Peer In College

Educational Partners In Collaboration

As I sat there enjoying the excitement and youthful exuberance, I wondered what we could do to foster the college - going culture across our entire service area?  There is probably an extensive list, but here are a few thoughts we could all do right now:

·         Get excited about what is happening at the college and share that with others in the community.  It’s OK if you aren’t excited about the Learning Commons but you are excited about basketball. Just share.

·         Let others know of the advantages of a post-secondary education. 

o   Those with an associate’s degree will have average life-time earnings of $350,000 more than those with just a high school diploma.

o   A recent article in the Tennessean revealed that in TN persons with an associate’s degree earned an average $1400 per year more than persons with a bachelor’s degree.

o   During the recent economic recession, persons with post-secondary degrees had substantially lower unemployment than other groups.

·         Be a good example.  Take advantage of the educational benefit we have to work toward a degree or certificate or just to enrich our lives.

Like our middle school friends in Springfield, let’s be EPIC!

Vol State in the News

The Vol State Lady Pioneers get props for their team this year. Check out the Gallatin News Examiner article here:

And here's the scoop on the Men's team:

The Sustainable Tennessee Summit came to campus last week. Check out the  College blog for the details and this Tennessean article:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vol State in the News

Here's a nice plug for the mighty WVCP-FM, the Vol Stater radio station extraordinaire. Apparently they have a regular listener in Gallatin News Examiner General Manager Mike Towle:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vol State in the News

A Vol State graduate is the new editor for the Gallatin News Examiner newspaper. Sarah Kingsbury is just one of many of Clay Scott's journalism students who work in the news media all over Tennessee and the nation. Congrats to Sarah on the promotion!

Vol State has been named an OSHA regional training site. Why is that a big deal? Check out the Tennessean for details:

The College is a partner is a new federal grant initiative in Robertson County. Our own grant manager Saranne Winfield helped to put together the half-million dollar Gear-Up grant proposal. It is designed to increase the number of low-income students seeking college degrees.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Laura Black and the Complex World of Dr. Who

A wizard-like character with a wry sense of humor. The never-ending struggle between good and evil. A time-traveling police box. Those of you who enjoy science fiction probably already know what we are referencing. Dr. Who is an iconic British TV show that has picked up a legion of loyal fans across the globe. The show is at times camp and at others serious. And in all of it Vol State associate professor Laura Black sees a reflection of human society. She’s taking those observations to a special conference next year. She’ll be presenting a paper at the “Walking in Eternity” conference in England.
“I didn’t think it would have a great chance, because it’s an international conference,” Black said. “The people that will be attending are the same ones I am referencing in my paper. I’m excited to be asked and I’m excited to be able to be there during the 50th anniversary.”

Black points out that Dr. Who made its television debut in 1963, on the same day President Kennedy was assassinated. The show has become the longest running television series in the history of television. While it’s considered to be a children’s show in England, those young fans have grown up and the plot lines have grown more complex. That’s the focus and title of Black’s paper: “Unraveling the Complex Narrative of Doctor Who Series Six”.

“This kind of puzzle box narrative is growing more popular. The kids figured it out long before the older people.”

Black says that keeping up with the twists and turns in complex TV is aided by the technology we often use today – DVD and DVR.

“We’ve changed the way we watch television- we have binge watching where we watch an entire series uninterrupted.”

 For Black, dissecting a popular TV show is much more than just being a fan- it’s a way to examine society.

“TV is like any aspect of culture- it’s reflective of the time period. TV is like film and other popular media in that it holds a mirror up to the face of society. There’s a lot of reflecting back on World War Two in the show, which is very significant in British culture.”

Black is trying to decide between two very divergent paths for a dissertation as she works on her PhD in English at MTSU. One is the activism and literature of James Baldwin in the civil rights struggle. The other is inspired by that love of Dr. Who- the complex story lines of television.

Black traveled to England last year to participate in a class on Dr. Who and that gave her an inside view of the TV show. To find out more about Dr. Who and its close connection to British culture check out Laura’s blog on the significance of the Dr. Who Christmas special in England, featuring pictures from her trip: