Monday, June 30, 2014

The Talents of Student Veterans

I had the pleasure of sitting down with a group of Vol State student veterans last week. The experience reminded me of the incredible talents that student veterans bring to the college...talents that may go unnoticed, unless you take the time to engage in a conversation about their service. I chatted with a nuclear power specialist from an attack sub, a helicopter mechanic and a recruiter. They have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and many points across the globe. It gives them a global perspective that most of us don't have, and that's a real asset to the college. Their reasons for coming to Vol State, and what they hope to do with their degrees, are also interesting.  We'll be telling their stories over the coming months. Today, we share with you the story of Laura Freeman.

After tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne, you would figure that Laura Freeman of Nashville would be ready for anything. But arriving at college provided some anxiety for the Army mechanic.

“I was worried. I thought that everyone would be so much younger than me,” she said. “It was not as bad as I thought. Ken was a huge help. He made things a lot easier. Having been in the military himself, he had a good understanding.”

Ken Hanson is the Veteran Affairs coordinator at Vol State. He works with student veterans to help them through the VA benefits process and their college career.

Laura fractured her hip in Iraq. No matter how she tried, the ailment only got worse. She eventually had a medical retirement. Vol State offers a range of academic options for students, but many veterans know exactly what they want to do.

“I’m going to try to transfer to Cornell or Tufts,” Freeman said. “I’m going to eventually become a veterinarian.”

Those are two of the top veterinary programs in the nation. Laura knows from her Army career that learning is something she can do well.

“I was in the first graduating class of the Eagle Language Training Center. I speak Pashtun. It’s one of the dominant languages used in Eastern Afghanistan.”

Laura is taking biology, chemistry and many of the other pre-medical foundation courses that also apply to pre-veterinary students. She stresses that while college is different, there are some things similar to the military.

“It was comforting, actually, being back in the swing of things with a set schedule. It reminds me of being in the Army.”

Dr. Faulkner: Independence Day

As we approach the Independence Day celebration on the 4th, there is always a rise in patriotism, and rightly so.  At the church where Wanda and I are members, we celebrated and gave thanks for the providence of God to America.  As is our custom, we also honored those that have served in the military.  During a musical performance in which the theme song of each branch of service was sung, the flags of the five branches were presented.  Those in attendance that had served were invited to stand during the presentation of their respective flags.  I was particularly moved as an elderly gentleman, leaning on his cane, saluted the flag of the Air Force. I was reminded of the saying, “All gave some, some gave all,” and I thought of those that were not present because they had given their lives in service to their country.

The news is all abuzz over the actions of actress Amy Adams.  On a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles she gave her first class seat to a serviceman in uniform.  Good for her!  We can all be mindful of showing our gratitude to those who serve.  At graduation this year, it was moving to recognize those graduates that are active military or veterans and they received a well deserved applause.  I am proud that Vol State is a Military Friendly Institution.

I’m also reminded of the role the college plays in maintaining freedom.  Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison said, “"And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government or information to the people. This last is the most certain and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. . . .  They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."  An educated electorate is the only guarantee for liberty.  And so we have the responsibility to educate and inform so that as citizens of America, our students can make wise decisions.

Happy Fourth of July!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Vol State in the News

The new president of Union University toured their Hendersonville campus recently and met with area leaders, including Dr. Faulkner, who mentioned the close relationship between our two schools in this Tennessean article.

The Upper Cumberland Business Journal has this article on Tennessee Promise and the possible impact on Vol State at Livingston and Tennessee Tech.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Fond Farewell to Betty

Friends and family gathered in the Ramer Building on Tuesday to wish Betty Gibson well, as she heads into retirement. This is Betty's last week at the college. Did you notice that I didn't say colleagues earlier? There's a reason for that. The people that work here value her as a dedicated Vol State employee and a woman who helped to run the college in some respects, while serving three different presidents. But we also consider Betty to be a friend. To work with such passion and precision and still have so many friends is a testament to her character. As Dr. Faulkner mentioned in his speech at Betty's party, we are her legacy, as we carry out work serving students and the institution. 

The finale of the event was the presentation of a picture of Betty and Dr. Ramer together. And then Betty spoke, reciting the theme from the "Golden Girls" TV show: "Thank-you for being a friend."

Pictures tell the story best. But if you are not aware of her career here, we have a brief biography. Some of these words can be found in the state proclamation honoring Betty that was presented to her by State Rep. William Lamberth.

Betty Gibson began working at Volunteer State Community College on July 1, 1972 as secretary in the Planning, Federal Programs and Institutional Research Office, just a few months after the Gallatin campus officially opened.  She began working for the founding president of Vol State, Dr. Hal R. Ramer in 1976. 

She was promoted to Administrative Assistant to the President on July 1, 1981. She worked with Dr. Ramer for 27 years. Dr. Ramer named a building after her before he retired. Betty Gibson Hall is located on the east side of campus.  She went on to serve two more presidents, Dr. Warren Nichols and Dr. Jerry Faulkner, in her 42 years of service to the college. She received the Outstanding Professional Staff Award in 2003.

Gibson has been with the college through a time of great expansion and change. The first class at Vol State had just 581 students. In the fall semester of 2013, the college had 8,153 students enrolled. Gibson was a student herself at Vol State, graduating in 1983 with an Associate of Science degree in General Business Administration.

Betty Gibson was born in Lebanon, Tennessee on October 22, 1941. Her father was Cleveland Stewart and her mother is Lois Stewart. She graduated from Lebanon High School in 1959.  She married Steve Gibson in 1960 and moved to Gallatin. She has a daughter, Jenny and a son, Randall. She has three grandchildren, Cole, Cody and Bayleigh.

Betty Gibson has served the students, faculty and staff at Vol State with dedication and enthusiasm. Her depth of knowledge about the institution has proven to be invaluable over the years. No matter what challenges the college has faced, Betty Gibson could be relied upon as a steadying influence and a shining example of the Vol State spirit of service to students and the community.

The Gift of Sight in Guatemala

Student Amanda Vanderbrink poses with a child that she fit with glasses.
Vol State Ophthalmic students and faculty members are back from another successful mission of hope and vision. For the last eight years, students and faculty have have been traveling to Guatemala each spring to conduct eye tests and fit donated glasses for kids and adults. It's part of a medical mission trip organized by the Hendersonville Rotary and Dr. David Black. This year, the ophthalmic folks saw over 500 people and examined at least 200 children. For some of the children and adults, the gift of eye tests and glasses allow them to clearly see for the first time in their lives. 

The trip is also an incredible learning opportunity for the students, those who make the trip and even those who work here at home. It takes months to test the hundreds of donated glasses here in Gallatin and get them ready for fitting. Kudos to the Ophthalmic program for another amazing Service Learning project.

One of the students at the orphanage smiles with his new pair of glasses and pirate patch.
Students Ashley Sanders and Amanda Vanderbrink work to find a pair of glasses that will 
help a woman to be able to read.
You can see from the length of this line, how popular the mission is for the Guatemalans.
The Ophthalmic Team (minus Jana Allen).

Carole Bucy and the Nashville Encyclopedia

Vol State history professor, Carole Bucy, is also the Davidson County Historian. Nashville history has always been a specialty for her. Now she's coordinating efforts to compile an encyclopedia of Nashville Nashpedia of sorts (our suggestion for it, not hers). Carole recently wrote an op/ed piece for the Tennessean announcing the project and calling for volunteers.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Logistics Shout-Out

George Wilson has this shout-out to one of his students who earned a certificate this spring:

Scott Little graduated recently with a Vol State Technical Certificate in Logistics & Supply Chain Management. Scott achieved a 4.0 GPA in his courses, and he continues as a part-time student to earn his associate's degree while he works full-time at Pro Advantage Supply Chain Services in Portland.

Scott had a military career of over 20 years’ service in the U.S. Navy Seabees construction battalion. Scott worked all over the world, including assignments as diverse as the Middle East and Camp David. After retiring from the Navy, Scott worked for as a driver for Roehl Transportation.

Scott began at Vol State by enrolling in Toni Murad’s “boot camp” for incoming Students over 25, and then Scott made an incredible, successful   4.0 GPA run in Logistics & Supply Chain Management classes with George Wilson and Don Ellis for Fall 2013 while also becoming an active Student Member of Institute of Supply Management-Nashville. Scott continued strong with classes in Distribution Center Management, Spreadsheets, and Project Management for Spring 2014 while beginning work full-time at Pro Advantage Supply Chain Services. Scott “wore an additional hat” for Spring 2014, serving as Supplemental Instruction Leader for George Wilson’s Intro to Business class while Dawn Leady was the Supplemental Instruction Leader for George’s LGM classes. On 1May2014, Scott was inducted into Kappa Beta Delta, the international business honor society.

Scott’s wife, Jen, also attends Vol State aspiring to the Physical Therapist’s Assistant Program.

Best of success to Scott and Jen as they continue their studies at Vol State !

-George Wilson

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Advertising Award for Vol State

The Tennessee College Public Relations Association awards are always big ones for Vol State, since we compete with colleges and universities from across the state, including Vanderbilt, Memphis, MTSU and UT Knoxville. This year the college picked up top honors in the Video Advertisement category for the Joseph Kaiga graduation ad. Our thanks to Clint Smart, who shot and produced the Gold winning ad, and, of course, Joseph and his family for allowing us to hang out with him on his big day.

If you still haven't seen the ad, which has been airing on Nashville TV stations for the last year, it's also up on You Tube.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cummings Signs with Brescia

Vol State Pioneer CJ Cummings has signed with Brescia University in Owensboro, Kentucky for a basketball scholarship. He recently looked over the contract with his mother, Martha Lang, and coach Rusty Melvin. Cummings played two seasons  for Vol State and started 18 of the 24 games this past season as a post, averaging six points and six rebounds per game.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Vol State in the News

Middle College High School will start up on the Vol State Gallatin campus on August 4th. The Tennessean has this story.

The Highland Crest campus had been owned by Robertson County and the City of Springfield. Last month the city and county voted to transfer ownership to the Tennessee Board of Regents. Here is an update from the Tennessean.

The story about James Story being honored by the GRAMMY Foundation is in the Tennessean this week.

Former Vol State pitcher Zac Curtis was picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first year player draft. Here is the story from

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Logistics Group Honors Don Ellis

A member of the Vol State Logistics faculty was honored recently by his peers. Logistics and Supply Side Management Associate Professor George Wilson has the story: 

Don Ellis, Vol State Adjunct Instructor in the Business & Technology Division, was recently recognized as “2014 Educator of the Year” by the Institute of Supply Management-Nashville (ISM). Don received his award from Tom Derry, International ISM Chief Executive Officer, at the April meeting of ISM-Nashville. Mr. Derry was the Guest Speaker for the evening, discussing how industry leadership and education providers can best team up to provide the skills needed by today’s workforce. Don is a Past President of ISM-Nashville, and Don is currently serving as Treasurer of ISM-Nashville. In addition to ISM-Nashville, Don has also taken on leadership roles in events sponsored by Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

Don is completing a very successful 2013-2014 academic year at Vol State. Don is the Course Designer for the new online class LGM180 Sourcing & Procurement which was taught twice during this past year. Don also worked with Dawn Leady and George Wilson to organize the first Electrolux LGM Cohort, and during the Fall and Spring semesters, Don taught BUS110, LGM130, LGM150, and LGM180 s hybrid classes to the Electrolux Cohort. Don has served as a 5-year Member of the Vol State LGM Advisory Board, and Don is ever ready to promote Vol State to prospective Students and to supply chain organizations. During 2013-2014, Don served as the Mentor for LGM Student Laurie McKinney in Dr. Kenny Yarbrough’s Student Leadership Institute.

In his “day job”, Don is Global Sourcing Quality Leader for Dupont Corporation, the company for which Don has worked for 42 years. In addition, Don is also Sourcing & Logistics Leader for the Dupont Corporate Crisis Hurricane Response Team, a First Responder charged with setting up an emergency supply chain to begin site restoration.

Don began his Dupont career as a journeyman pipefitter, and Don progressed through several materials management and supply chain activities. Don earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management & Organizational Development from Bethel University in 2009, and Don followed up by earning a Master of Science in Business Administration from Bethel University in 2010. Don took most of his classes online, so that he was able to complete his education even with a heavy company travel schedule that included Europe and China. Don is an ISO-9001-2008 Lead Auditor and a Six Sigma Green Belt. Don is also Vice Chair for a Construction Industry Institute Academic Research Project on Supplier Quality Surveillance. Don represents Dupont on this project consortium that includes the University of Arkansas and San Diego State University.

-George Wilson

Monday, June 2, 2014

James Story Honored by GRAMMY Foundation

Congratulations to James Story, Performing and Visual Arts chair at Vol State. He's one of 222 quarterfinalists in the nation for the Music Educator Award™ presented by The Recording Academy® and the GRAMMY Foundation®. Story was selected from more than 7,000 initial nominations. According to the GRAMMY Foundation, “the Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.”

“Just being in the quarterfinals is overwhelming. It really humbles me,” said James. “It reminds me of the awesome responsibility I have as a teacher. To be recognized on this level is great for our program.”

James has taught music at Vol State for 17 years. He began his teaching career as band and choir director at White House High School in 1977, and continued teaching at Gallatin High School from 1981 to 1997. He is also Music Director at Gallatin First United Methodist Church.

The semifinalists will be announced in September. The winner will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the GRAMMY Awards ceremony, and receive a $10,000 honorarium.