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?