Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Vol State in the News

The big holiday concert for the Music Department is coming up on December 6 and 7 and the Gallatin News Examiner has a preview.

Adjunct instructor Kevin Marshall Chopson as a poem published in a regional anthology.

The Hendersonville Star News has this story about the annual Hendersonville Chamber Foundation Scholarship.

A partnership between Electrolux and the Vol State Logistics program appears in the Gallatin News Examiner.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dr. Pimentel Talks About His New Job

After 11 years of teaching History at Vol State, Dr. George Pimentel doesn’t need an introduction to most folks on campus. He takes on the role of vice president for Academic Affairs in January. He most recently held the post of interim dean of Social Science and Education at Vol State. He has been the director of the Honors Program since 2011. So, what does he intend to do in the new position?

“I want to create a team atmosphere. I may be in my new role, but I still have this connection with the faculty. I want to communicate in each direction and as much as possible. We need to collectively have a vision for where we need to be in ten years, beyond what is thrust on us.”

Dr. Pimentel holds a Doctor of Arts degree in History and an Ed.S. in Educational Administration and Supervision from Middle Tennessee State University. He also has an M.A. in History and B.A. in History from MTSU. He served in the US Army and was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2004. We asked if his military experience provided insight into academic life and administration.

“In my military experience you learn to work within a massive organization,” he said. “There is debate time and then there is action. Once a decision is made, you have to work to make it happen in the best way possible. I want input and alternate ideas. If you have a better way of doing it, let’s talk about it.”

Prioritization is the big topic on campus this school year, and Dr. Pimentel will be in the middle of some tough decisions.

“I’ve completed prioritization for honors. We’ve written them for Social Science and Education. Once you start the process it makes sense. A lot of the fear is the unknown. We’re worried a bit too much about this. I don’t have this overwhelming fear that we’ll be cutting things or cutting people.”

Here are three things you might not know about the new vice president for Academic Affairs:

1. He played hockey for ten years in high school and adult leagues.

2. He speaks German and Klingon.

3. He has three children and his wife has three children, much like the Brady Bunch. They have 12 grandkids.

Dr. Faulkner: Thanksgiving

A variety of thanksgiving feasts occurred in the New World. Perhaps the earliest occurred in territories held by the Spanish as early as the 16th century. Celebrations were common in what is now Virginia occurring as early as 1607. The dates of these observances ranged from May to December. It is the celebration that occurred at Plymouth Plantation in 1621 that we most often think of as the traditional Thanksgiving. 

Abraham Lincoln established the official observance of the holiday in 1863. Regardless of the history, the final Thursday of November has become a day for us all to stop and give thanks for the many blessings we have received. Our tendency is to concentrate on material things like food, and shelter, and prosperity. Certainly it is appropriate that we are grateful for these things since we are more fortunate than most around the world and many in our own country.

But the things that we should be most thankful for are things that can’t be measured, or quantified, or valued in dollars. These are things like health, friends and  colleagues, family, freedom, beauty, literature, music, art, and love. And as we take time to give thanks it is important that we tell those of our fellow travelers that have brought these to our lives how much we appreciate and are thankful for them.

And so Wanda and I thank you for the wonderful things you have brought to our lives and wish you and yours a joyous Thanksgiving celebration.

-Dr. Faulkner

Friday, November 22, 2013

December and January Vol State Events


Dec. 13

Yvonne Petkus and Matt Tullis Art Exhibit,

Thigpen Gallery, 7am-9pm Monday through

Saturday, closed Sunday


Festival of Lights, Cafeteria, 12:30pm-1:30pm, Everyone invited for food, music and fellowship


Matt Tullis Art Exhibit Gallery Talk,

Rochelle Center, 1pm

6 and 7

Christmas Memories music concert and CD release, Wemyss Auditorium, Caudill Hall, 7:30pm, Suggested $5 donation for music scholarships, free with Vol State ID


Astronomy Department Star Watching Party,

Science Field Station, Sunset to 11pm


Music Students perform at the Whippoorwill on the Square in Gallatin, 6pm, No cover charge

January 8 thru Feb 21

Rachel Kirk art exhibit, Thigpen Library Gallery

January 9

Professional Development, Campus closed

January 16

January 20

January 29

Spring classes begin

MLK, Jr. Holiday, Campus closed

Unity Day speaker Jewel Tankard from the TV show "Thicker than Water" 12:30pm and 7pm, Caudill Hall

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vol State and Electrolux Team Up For Logistics Program

A gas range may not seem like a global nexus, but when you consider the myriad parts that go into manufacturing a gas range, and the number of countries those parts come from, manufacturing takes on a whole new perspective. That’s the case for logistics and supply chain professionals at Electrolux in Springfield. It’s their job to collect the parts from sources across the planet and get them to Springfield assembly in a timely and cost effective manner. Every decision they make has an impact on the bottom line. Electrolux has teamed up with Vol State to give those professionals a new view of their jobs and global logistics. Ten Electrolux employees are taking Vol State logistics classes together as a group.

“It’s helped to see how we interact with each other,” said Liz Johnson, the unit leader for the logistics group. “We’re each in different areas, and sometimes we didn’t see how decisions one of us would make affected the next person.”

“I think sometimes in a typical classroom setting you’re a little reserved and shy,” said Adam Tracy of Nashville. “When you’re with co-workers you are more likely to share and talk about it.”

The class is termed a cohort course, meaning that the group of students takes several classes together. It promotes bonding and the sharing of ideas. However, it’s rare for an entire cohort to come from the same company. The students have some class meetings at the Highland Crest college campus in Springfield and the rest of the work is done online, for greater flexibility.

“Most of these folks are from the operations side,” said Vol State Instructor Don Ellis. “One of the things we have talked about is interdependent operations. They’re going to get a much better understanding of how things work.”

Elllis is teaching several of the courses. He’s Global Sourcing Quality Manager for Dupont and teaches for Vol State part-time. The idea for the class came from Electrolux. 

“Electrolux Supervisor Russell Schild took one of our Logistics classes and began sharing my PowerPoints with Electrolux Supply Chain Director, JT Terzo,” said Associate Professor of Logistics, George Wilson. “JT found the PowerPoints meaningful for what he was trying to accomplish at Electrolux and we worked to set up the cohort class.”

Now other companies are considering the same method- a program of classes for their employees to take together. The Electrolux students will earn a technical certificate when classes are completed next spring, but they say the benefits from the course work happen daily.

“The logistics classes have a lot of stuff we use every day, we just didn’t know the terms for it,” said Phillip Duncan of Springfield. “We learn together. It helps us grow together.”

For more information on the Logistics and Supply Chain Management program at Vol State visit:


Pictured: Electrolux logistics employees and their Vol State instructor on the warehouse floor. Left to right: Adam Tracy, Phillip Duncan, Don Ellis and Liz Johnson.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Scientists Hear Bluegrass Ablaze

Vol State's very own Bluegrass Ablaze played for the opening social of the 34th annual North American meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) last weekend at the Opryland Hotel.

SETAC is an international association of environmental scientists dedicated to better understanding the impacts of human society on the planet. The society is composed of approximately 1/3 government agencies, 1/3 academics, and 1/3 industry, so that perspectives on crucial environmental issues are as balanced as possible and all sides of critical issues are heard equally. This is the first meeting of SETAC in Nashville in fifteen years. They will be meeting through Thursday of this week.

Dr. Faulkner: What is the Next Big Thing?

One of the challenges we constantly face is to chart a successful course for the future of the college.  New and exciting things are constantly presented to us so there is no shortage of ideas.  The task is to determine which are the wise choices and which are flash-in-the pan.

Which company would you guess invented the digital camera?  Sony?  Canon?  Nikon?  Actually the first patent was issued to Eastman Kodak.  The first digital camera was created in 1975.  It weighed 8 pounds and was about the size of a toaster.  It had a resolution of 0.01 megapixels and produced black and white pictures.  The camera took 23 seconds to record an image to digital tape and another 23 seconds to read it back to view on a TV screen.  It had a capacity of 12 pictures.

The story is that when the camera was presented to the board, it was met with derision and resistance.  After all, Eastman Kodak was a chemical, film, and photographic paper company, not an electronics company. You probably know the end of the story.  In 2009 Eastman Kodak stopped producing their most popular product (Kodachrome) and its processing ended in December, 2010.  The company filed for bankruptcy in 2012.  The digital camera made film based photography obsolete.

So how do we avoid missing significant opportunities and at the same time avoid wasting resources on ineffective or short-lived fads?  I think there are five important answers to this question:

1     Stayed informed.  We must be vigilant in being aware of emerging products, methods, and trends.
    Keep looking forward.   We must not tie ourselves to tradition just for the sake of tradition.  We can’t  afford  to become complacent.
    Be willing to take risks, to experiment, to pilot.  We need to have a safe environment where people are  not  afraid to try something new because of fear of failure.  Even a failure contains a lesson.
    Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.  Evaluate what we are doing now and if it is ineffective, try something new.     Evaluate the results of anything new and make data informed decisions.
5     Listen to the students.  We must be sensitive to the feedback students give us about our college.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Vol State in the News

Vol State art exhibits are open to everyone in the Thigpen Gallaery. The Gallatin News Examiner has this piece on a unique double artist exhibit currently on display.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ben Jobe Book Signing

Vol State adjunct faculty member Ben Jobe held a book signing at the Vol State bookstore recently for “Common Threads: My Family’s Journey from Slave Owner to Abolitionist.” It’s a family history with an examination of slavery, both historical and modern. His connection with the famous basketball coach Ben Jobe is a twist in that family history that many people would not expect.

Ben says the self-published book is selling well on Amazon and he is talking to local Barnes and Noble stores about distribution. Of course, the best place to buy the book would be the Vol State bookstore where several folks lined up for a signed copy.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Honors for Humanities Project

Congrats to the folks in the Humanities Division. Our long-running CD recording project, with the most recent collaboration under way now for the December 6 and 7 Christmas concert, is getting some well-deserved recognition. Here is the announcement: 

Volunteer State Community College has been nominated for the 2014 Bellwether Award for the following program: Interdisciplinary Collaboration CD Project by James Story, Steve Bishir and Lynn Peterson

This prestigious award recognizes outstanding and innovative programs and practices that are successfully leading community colleges. The awards are presented annually at the Community College Futures Assembly. The 2014 Assembly Back to the Futures
convention will be held January 25th - January 28th at the Hilton Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Finalists will be competitively selected and will be invited to present at the Assembly.

The Bellwether Awards annually recognize outstanding and innovative programs and practices that are successfully leading community colleges into the future. Thirty outstanding colleges will be selected to present their innovative practices at the 2014 Community College Futures Assembly in January. From each of the three categories below, one college will be selected to win the prestigious Bellwether Award
1) Instructional Programs & Services
2) Planning, Governance, & Finance
3) Workforce Development

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Veterans Day at Vol State

Vol State veterans attended a special lunch Thursday in their honor. You can still check out the wall of honor display with pictures of Vol State veterans in the Nichols Dining Room. On Monday, faculty member Peter Johnson will have his display of WWII equipment for viewing in the Ramer Great Hall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to commemorate Veterans Day. And to all of the veterans out there: a heartfelt thanks for your sacrifice and service. 

One student veteran in attendance at the event has a story of great challenge and sacrifice to tell. Eddy Rivera's wife, Tiffany, shares it for Veterans Day on the Vol State virtual community blog.

Vol State Students Hear From Renown Researcher

Five Vol State students recently attended the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Toxicology Open House and were treated to a Keynote Speech by MIT Professor Dr. Gerald Wogan, a world renown researcher. He  highlighted five decades of his research as well as the collaboration of other scientists in determining the identity and mechanism of the toxin Aflatoxin B in cancer and other diseases.

The Vol State students were Cody Gibson, Phillip Martinez, Tyler Belisle, Nick Aubrey, and Corbitt Jackson. They were accompanied by professors Dr. Robert Carter and Parris Powers.

Each year the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine hosts an Open House in the Center of Molecular Toxicology recruiting future graduate students into their research labs.

Vol State students attended a number of sessions by Vanderbilt Faculty and researchers in the area of toxicolgy and disease mechanisms. Students were also given a tour of the research labs and Mass Spectrometry Center.

Food Drive

The Vol State Employee Relations Committee, in partnership with the Christmas for the Kids Angel Tree program, is holding a food drive until December 5. You’ll find donation boxes in the following locations: Ramer 101, Warf 100, Rochelle Center, Gibson 106, Caudill 222, Mattox 101, Building 300 lobby, Wallace 102, Ramer Great Hall and Wood 117.

Here is the list of non-perishable food items needed.  No glass please

Meals:  canned meat, stews, soups, tuna, ravioli, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, Beefaroni, peanut butter, hamburger helper, etc.

Grains: cereal, rice, pasta, dried beans, etc.

Fruits: canned fruit, fruit cups, dried fruit, applesauce, 100% juice and juice boxes, etc.

Canned Vegetables: carrots, beans, tomatoes, corn, etc.

Snack Items: pudding, granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, pop tarts, etc.

Dry Goods: flour, seasonings, sugar, Bisquick, muffin mix, etc.

Milk Products: powdered, evaporated, shelf-stable milk

The donations will go to the families of the children participating in the Angel Tree program at Vol State.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The New Smoking Policy Has a Personal Impact

Smoking cigarettes is not easy these days. The announcement of a new Vol State smoking policy, starting January 1, is just one of a number of changes in recent years for smokers. For one Vol State employee it’s the last straw or butt for that matter. David Reese in Plant Operations is quitting.

“I decided when they came out with the new policy it would be easier to quit,” said Reese. “For forty years I’ve been used to walking where I want to light-up. With the new policy, that’s going to be a big burden for smokers.”

The policy prohibits smoking in all areas of campus with the exception of parking lots, as long as smokers are at least 50 feet from any building and dispose of their smoking material correctly.

Reese says he smoked two and a half packs a day until quitting five weeks ago. And how has it been going thus far?

“I’m great. I’ve got more energy. I can actually taste food again.”

Reese has tried nicotine gum and the patch in previous attempts to quit. This time it’s been simpler.

“I used the good Lord. I’ve tried other things in the past and this time I just decided to put my trust in a higher power.”

It’s more than just a health or convenience issue for Reese. His mother broke down in tears in church recently when Reese told his smoking story to the congregation. His father died of lung cancer. He was a three pack-a-day smoker.

For tips on how to quit and a look at the complete policy, visit the college web page.

Dr. Faulkner: Training in the World of Work

I’ve quoted previously from the publication Training.  I subscribed to this magazine several years ago and continue to receive it because I believe there are many similarities between what corporate trainers do and what we do as educators.  It also provides insight into what is happening in the work world where our students will be functioning.  Here are some insights from the Sept/Oct issue:

-“On the delivery front, not surprisingly, online SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products) training now is the most common type of training with a combined total of 37 percent. . . . Traditional instructor-led classroom training continues on a downward trend with 28 percent. . . . which supports the idea that as more people gravitate toward the online space for information gathering, they also are using digital media to further their professional training.”

-“In terms of preference for SAP training, more than 60 percent of respondents said they prefer online SAP training to all other forms of SAP training.”

-“Most smartphone users check their phones a whopping 150 times a day, 100 hours of video per minute are uploaded to YouTube and tablet shipments surpassed desktop PCs, and notebooks in the fourth quarter of 2012. . . .”

-“Some 61.5 percent of organizations built their training programs based on specified competencies . . . “

-“The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) uses a virtual world developed by BreakAway Ltd. to improve financial auditors’ risk assessment skills.”

-“When the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago move to new facilities in June 2012, it used a 3-D virtual simulation of the new hospital to help its staff and physicians learn their way around the multi-story building before they had to care for patients.”

These are just a few examples of how our students will need to function in the workplace once they complete their studies with us.  If students will need these skills to succeed, shouldn’t we be using them in the classroom?

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner