Friday, June 21, 2013

Bruce Scism: A Look Back and a Look Forward

Bruce Scism was wondering if he had made a mistake as he began his move to Gallatin. He was leaving Lee College in Texas, a job that he loved. He did so because of the opportunity here at Vol State and what the college had to offer. He also did so for personal reasons. His wife Beth was having health problems due to air pollution in the Houston area. Now he says he will have similar feelings leaving here in July, as he travels to take on a new role as president of Danville Community College in Virginia.

“This has been the most enjoyable experience in my life, working here for the last five and half years,” Scism said.

The attraction to Nashville was of course the sum of the parts: better air quality for his wife, the excitement of Nashville and the attraction any songwriter naturally feels to the Music City. Dr. Scism says he saw then, and still sees now, great potential for Vol State. When asked to name his top personal achievement here he naturally has a hard time picking one.

“The one thing I have had the most satisfaction from has been working with some of the key faculty and deans in the area of student success. Supplemental Instruction makes a huge impact on people and Toni Murad has done a fabulous job there. The redesign that we went through and the curricula changes were important.”

Once Bruce starts to mention academic programs he’s officially on a roll.

“I think of George Wilson’s Logistics program and what he has done with that. Look at the success Kevin Cook and James Brown have had in Criminal Justice. I think of what the CIS faculty is doing and particularly Dan Arena. We’re getting ready to propose an advanced certificate in that area.”

It’s clear that he could go on to mention many, many more programs.

“The creativity of the faculty and the deans here has been great.”

Of course, Bruce has always had a soft spot for the music and recording programs, which is understandable given his hobby and side line work as a country music songwriter and musician. He has played at bars and clubs all over Nashville, including the legendary Bluebird CafĂ©. He speaks with excitement about opportunities in the new Entertainment Media Production program at Vol State and related projects such as a record label, musical instrument video instruction, a bluegrass music TV show and songwriters TV show. He adds that the biggest challenges for those “out of the box” additions to Vol State will be funding.

When asked to pick something he would have done differently, Bruce pauses.

“I would have backed up and taken more time to be more conversant with more people. Like everyone else, I was pushing everyone really hard. And sometimes you don’t fully explain things to people as you need to.”

Danville Community College sits on the southern border of Virginia in a small river city of just over 43,000 people. It may seem like an out of the way location, until you understand the attraction.

“I was born in that hospital and my dad still lives, part of the year, next door in Pelham, North Carolina. My grandmother lived there until 1987. So, I have deep roots in the area. I’m excited about working in the Virginia Community College system. They have a tech orientation at community colleges there because they don’t have technical centers. They have a wider array of technical and workforce programs. Danville just wrapped up a $7.2 million community campaign. The community is tightly tied to the college to have that kind of support. That’s exciting.”

Dr. Scism will be taking the position following the retirement of current Danville Community College president Dr. B. Carlyle Ramsey who has served the institution for 21 years.

“There are challenges in following someone who was doing a good job and is well liked. They’re looking for someone to come in and continue that leadership and connection to the community. They are also looking for someone to take on student success, and that’s what I enjoy.”

Phyllis Foley will be the Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs while a national search is conducted.

Student Veterans and the Challenges Outside the Classroom

Most of us realize that our student Veterans may have many issues they struggle with if they participated in combat missions during their service. However, unless you work with those students on a regular basis, as our Student Services and faculty members do, you might not fully understand the depth of those issues. This recent article in Time Magazine features a Vol State student. It gives an indication of what might be going on behind the scenes with some of these student veterans.

Ken Hanson, our Vol State Veterans Affairs Coordinator, can help if you have any questions or need advice in helping student veterans.

"This article keys in on the challenges many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are having when it comes to adjusting to the “civilian” world," said Hanson. "Too often they feel as if there is no one they can turn to that will understand their situation.We as a campus family need to be aware of warning signs. Don’t let that student that is having troubles just walk away.  The one person that truly means and asks, “How are you doing?”, can make a difference and maybe that can help them out."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What you need to know about Adult Education GED training at Vol State

As you may have heard, Vol State has taken over GED adult education training formerly run by Sumner County and with an overall reach that includes Macon County. The Hendersonville Star News has a good piece on why we took over the program and how it fits into the mission of the college. It's been a ton of work for Hilary Marabeti, but she is close to having staff finalized for the program. You will be seeing signage for the program on campus soon. We want to make sure the campus community is familiar with what is happening, so as to avoid confusion with our current Continuing Education and Business and Industry programs that have an adult education focus. As Dr. Faulkner says, we've always been in the adult education business. Adding GED training and other state programs to the lineup is a natural growth for us.

We have plenty of details coming soon, including contact information, assigned rooms, a web page and other info that will help if people have questions. We'll share that with you here once those details are finalized, and of course with the public on our many platforms.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Meet the New Assistant Vice President

Dr. Michael Torrence officially joined Vol State last week as assistant vice president for Academic Affairs. He’s been busy getting acquainted with the faculty and staff. He needs no introduction to Tennessee. He received his PhD and worked as an English instructor and director of Enrichment Activities at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. Torrence comes most recently from Lehigh Carbon Community College in Pennsylvania, where he was associate dean of educational support services and associate dean of academics. Prior to Lehigh Carbon, he served as assistant dean of students and as assistant professor of Education at Keystone College, also in Pennsylvania. When asked why he was interested in working at Vol State he told us:

“This position is similar to what I’ve been doing and most importantly it involves distance learning and student support services. I really like the fact that I will be working directly with students. It also doesn’t hurt that I shouldn’t have to shovel snow any longer.”

Dr. Torrence holds a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree, both in English, from South Dakota State University. He served in the Air Force as a Senior Airman, before attending college. He says that community colleges face many challenges. “Retention and enrollment are always at the tip of everyone’s tongue. The question is: how do you get students from the front door to graduation? It’s everyone’s responsibility to be engaged and involved with students.”

Dr. Torrence replaces Jim Hiett, who retired recently after more than 30 years of service.

Vol State in the News

A grant program will help establish a pilot boot camp of sorts for new students. The Gallatin News Examiner has the story.

The Gallatin News Examiner also has this story on our new assistant vice president of Academic Affairs.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kudos to Joseph James

You may remember the Vol State TV ad featuring veteran and Vol State student Joseph James. The ad won a Gold Paragon award earlier this year from the National Council of Marketing and Public Relations. Joseph did such a great job of representing Vol State that we thought he should get a copy of the award. Our students, faculty and staff are the key to all of our best marketing efforts. And there is plenty more to come. You may have seen producer/videographer Clint Smart at graduation recently. He was shooting a new set of videos to be used for ads and more. The rough cuts are inspiring, to say the least. They do an excellent job of capturing the Vol State spirit through the words of our graduates. We'll have more here soon!

In the meantime, if you didn't get to see the award-winning spot, you can view it on You Tube.

Awards and Conferences for Logistics

At the Institute of Supply Management-Nashville (ISM) 2013 Awards Night at the One Century Plaza Conference Center in Nashville, Vol State Logistics Graduates Dawn Leady and John Kemper won the two ISM $500.00 scholarships awarded for 2013, the fourth consecutive year a Vol State Logistics Student has won an ISM scholarship. Previous ISM scholarship winners include Cynthia Sasser, Shannon White, Carrie Irvin, and Jeffrey Hartmann. 

Also at the Awards Night, Vol State and University of Memphis Graduate Shannon White won the ISM award as "Volunteer of the Year", and Vol State Associate Professor George Wilson won the William J. Burns Award for outstanding leadership in supply chain management.

Pictured left-to-right at ISM Awards Night are: Adjunct Instructor Beverly Wilson, ISM Treasurer (and Vol State Adjunct Instructor) Don Ellis, Dawn Leady, Dr. Bruce Scism. George Wilson, Terry Bubb, John Kemper, Dr. Emily Short, and Dr. Jerry Faulkner.

In other Logistics news…

The 2nd Annual Nashville Logistics Epicenter Event presented by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) on 15May2013 at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce was attended by over 40 persons from industry, government, and education to discuss issues of infrastructure and workforce development. Vol State Logistics Graduates John Kemper and Dawn Leady took active roles at this event as John served as spokesperson for the workforce development breakout session, and Dawn served as recorder and photographer for the event. At this event, Adjunct Instructor Don Ellis represented both Vol State and the Institute of Supply Management-Nashville (Don is ISM Treasurer) while Associate Professor George Wilson was a co-organizer for this event along with Shannon White, Vol State and University of Memphis Graduate.

In the second photo, Dawn Leady and Don Ellis flank John Kemper as he shares the ideas and concerns of the workforce development breakout session.

Dr. Faulkner: Diversity at Vol State

This past week several of us participated in an on-campus Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Leadership Program.  What emerged during the two days were some incredibly frank conversations about the state of diversity and inclusion in our campus community.  Part of the process was to conduct a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) assessment.  I was incredibly proud that our list of strengths was long and rich.  Among our strengths are:

-We are a caring and friendly campus community.

-The diversity committee is a standing committee of the college.

-Our Office of Student Life and Diversity and the many initiatives they have established.

-We have three certified diversity training professionals on our campus. (Kenny Yarbrough, Andrea Boddie, Delois Reagan)

-We have a rich diversity of different viewpoints on our campus.

-We have many cultural celebrations as part of campus engagement.

Another of our strengths is that we are willing to acknowledge our weakness and envision the opportunities for the future. We have much work to do.  The short action list includes:

-Solidifying our definition of diversity and inclusion.

-Creating a diversity and inclusion statement for the college.

-Moving beyond the idea that diversity is just about race and gender.

-Zeroing in on two or three things from our five year diversity plan and making those few things happen this year.

We will begin to tackle these tasks immediately.  Expect that even during the summer you will hear about diversity and inclusion activities on the campus and that you will be invited to be part of the process of moving us forward.

Remember - - -

Student Success is Job One

Success at VSCC is contingent upon all members of our campus community.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner