Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vol State in the News

Several papers have run the Rx TN success story of student Melinda Peery. Here is the latest, in the Lebanon Democrat.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Vol State to Offer College Classes in Cookeville

A new higher education center in Cookeville will soon make it easier for students to earn job training and college degrees in the Upper Cumberland.

Tennessee Tech University, Nashville State Community College, and Volunteer State Community College are joining forces to expand higher education programs and transform the way education is offered to the region by becoming partners in a learning center.

“We are so pleased to be a part of the endeavor to provide access to higher education at this location in Cookeville," Vol State president, Dr. Jerry Faulkner said. "We look forward to continuing the high standards of education that have been a hallmark of our service to the Upper Cumberland.  The new facility in Cookeville, paired with our continuing presence in Livingston, will give us an opportunity to provide even more for the residents of the area.”

It will also provide more opportunities for students in the region to take advantage of the Tennessee Promise, a last-dollar scholarship available to Tennessee high school graduates to cover the cost of tuition at a community or technical college or other eligible institution offering an associate degree program.

The Nashville State Cookeville campus located at 1000 Neal Street will become a Tennessee Board of Regents college and training center on July 1.

Offerings at the center will expand to include courses and programs through Vol State and TTU beginning this fall, and Tennessee College of Applied Technology programs may be added later. The Tennessee Board of Regents is the state university and community college system, governing six universities (including TTU), all 13 of the community colleges and the 27 colleges of applied technology across Tennessee.

“The demand is here for a broader range of options, and we are fortunate to have several excellent institutions eager to serve the needs of this community,” said TBR Chancellor John Morgan. “This collaborative arrangement allows us to be flexible and responsive to the citizens and employers of the region, to help students reach their post-secondary education goals, and to enhance the skilled workforce available.”

The institutions will work collaboratively at the site to provide a higher education center for learning that includes academic programs that meet the needs of the community, Morgan stressed. The center can help move students from K-12 through a two-year program, four-year degree, and on to graduate level work. The cooperative effort will allow for efficient management, shared resources and a mutually beneficial arrangement.

“The Tennessee Board of Regents is uniquely situated to facilitate this type of center for the people of our Upper Cumberland Region,” said Johnny Stites, a member of the Board of Regents and CEO of J&S Construction in Cookeville. “I’m pleased that it will help address student demand and at the same time provide support for the workforce needs of our local businesses and industries and more opportunities for local students to take advantage of the Tennessee Promise.”

The center will provide the teaching location, but students will still apply for admission to the college or university through which their program of study is offered. Each institution will offer all the necessary course work for students to complete their intended degrees at the center or within the city limits of Cookeville. Current Nashville State students will be able to complete the programs in which they are enrolled.

An advisory committee comprised of representatives from the institutions and community will provide expertise and oversight for the center. Management and operations will become the responsibility of TTU, including administrative and support staffing, facility maintenance, bookstore and food services, accounting and financial reporting, and library resources. Costs for operating the facilities will be assessed to the institutions and based on credit hours taught.

More information about the list of programs and courses offered this fall will be provided later.

Pictured left to right: Dr. Claire Stinson, TTU, Dr. George Van Allen, Nashville State, Dr. Phillip Oldham, TTU, Dr. Jerry Faulkner, Vol State, and Becky Hull, Nashville State.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dr. Faulkner: Information Overload

I recently read an article titled “Mindful Leadership and Navigating the Seas of Change in the Information Age” by J.W. Misner (2014).  The article explores the current state of information overload in which we live and the impacts on our attention.  The article uses the analogy that we are no longer “drinking from a fire hose,” but also forced to choose which fire hose from among many.

The article presents some startling statistics:

·    -The amount of information projected to be created by all of humanity during the year 2010 is a zettabyte.  Expressed numerically that is 1 followed by 21 zeroes. (Blair, 2010)
     -The amount of information previously created by humanity was five exabytes or 5/1000ths of a zettabyte. (Rieland, 2012)

The author offers that the abundance of information results in a competition for our attention. He quotes from a pre-Internet article by Simon (1971).

“. . . in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else;  a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes.  What information consumes is rather obvious; it consumes the attention of its recipients.  Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate the attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

Meisner proposes that the overload of information and the constant competition causes hyperstress which manifests as “a sense of alarm, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, heavier breathing, tense skeletal muscles, etc.”  He goes on to assert that “users gravitate toward the most palpable information, which is analogous to mindlessly eating dessert for every meal.”  Although I’ve been known to eat dessert first, a constant diet is definitely not a healthy habit.

The author proposes a remedy would be to become more conscious of our information consumption.  He suggests that for one week, we should inventory our sources and consumption habits.

I would add one more suggestion.  Periodically go “off-line.”  Unplug from the information fire hose for a few hours.  A full day would be even better.  We could all use a little less stress in our lives.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner
Blair, A.  (2010)  Information Overload, Then and Now.  Retrieved from
Misner, J. W. (2014), Mindful Leadership and Navigating the Seas of Change in the Information Age. Journal of Leadership Studies, 8: 46–50.
Rieland, R. (2012) Big Data or Too Much Information? Retrieved from
Simon, H.A. (1971) Designing Organizations for an Information Rich World. In M. Greenberger (Ed.) Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest (pp. 40-41). Baltimore, MD; The Johns Hopkins Press.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Vol State in the News

Congrats to everyone who works with student veterans. Vol State was just designated a VETS Campus by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The designation means that Vol State has many measures in place to help veterans. Here is a story in the Tennessean.

Congrats to Travis Ford and the Fire Science Program at Vol State. Travis was recently named one of the top 13 instructors for Fire Science in the Southeast by

Friday, February 13, 2015

Students speak out about Digital Media

There is one topic that can get students talking these days: digital media. It’s the primary form of communication for many, but don’t think that means that everyone in the younger generations accept digital media growth without question. Merritt McKinney and the Honors Program recently held a student discussion panel on the subject, organized and hosted by Shannon Lynch and Melissa Fox. It’s familiar ground for the two faculty members. They have taught Digital Media and Ethics classes.

They covered a number of topics in the panel.

Does living in a close-knit digital world of friends keep your opinions confined to their views?

“If you have a fairly diverse friends list you’re going to be exposed to many different opinions,” said Honey Rae Swan of Westmoreland.

“I see digital media as a tool for non-conformity,” said Michael Clark of Hendersonville. “You can investigate these niches and books, even though none of the people around you are interested in them.”

How about face-to-face communication versus texting?

“It’s a lot easier for me to communicate with someone via text message or email, because I can write it down and express myself better,” said student panelist Timothy McCall of Hendersonville.

Students in the audience wondered if digital communication could hurt people with social anxieties, by providing them with methods to avoid their fear.

Another issue was digital awareness. How well do students understand the digital world as it relates to reliable information and safety? None of the students on the panel or in the audience of about 50 students raised their hand to say that they had digital research or safety training in secondary school.

And finally, a subject near and dear to many faculty members: the use of digital-style English in writing.

“There’s going to be a time when our language is more technology based and what we speak now is the old English,” said McCall.

“There’s a difference between the way we speak and the way we write. We might circle back to symbols some day in how we write, but our speaking language may stay the same,” said Elena Cruth of Hendersonville.

Merritt McKinney was quick to chime in with a faculty perspective: “I think there is something to having a level of professionalism with your teacher,” he said.

When the audience was asked if the line between informality and professionalism is going away, most students nodded yes.

“It’s creating a new professionalism and the boundaries are being rewritten,” said Adam Parks of White House.

Vol State in the News

The Rx TN grant program at Vol State is in the news, with the story of an amazing graduate. Melinda Peery is homeless and working to turn her life around. She just completed three Rx TN medical skills courses and has been hired by a local medical office. The Hendersonville Standard has the story.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Classified Staff Appreciation Awards

Staff Council would like congratulate Danielle Wright and Wanda Smith, the winners of the Classified Staff Appreciation Awards for the months of December and January (respectively)! Danielle is a Financial Aid Assistant in the Financial Aid Office. Wanda is a Records Clerk in the Office of Records and Registration.

The other nominees for the month of December:
Donna Warden from Library Services and Learning Resources
Becky Cantrell from IERPA
Holly Harvey from Social Science and Education
David McDonald from Plant Operations

The other nominees for the month of January:
Tammy Swindle from Health Sciences Division

Every month a winner is drawn from the pool of nominees who were seen offering exceptional service to the Vol State community. The award recipient receives a certificate of appreciation and a $20 gift card. Any Vol State employee can fill out the short nomination form to recognize any permanent classified staff employee by going to the Staff Council webpage (

Thank you for supporting this Staff Council initiative and your fellow coworkers!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Meet Distributed Education Director Rhonda Gregory

Rhonda Gregory is the new director of Distributed Education at Vol State. Distributed Education includes online classes and other forms of learning that engage students off campus. Increasingly online education technology is touching every college class, including courses held on campus.

“I want to help faculty integrate the technology into their whole teaching experience,” Gregory said. “You can use the best of both worlds of online and face-to-face education. I love community colleges. They're undervalued. I want to help change that perception."

Rhonda comes from Greenville College, a four-year school in Greenville, Illinois. She held several positions there over nine years, including director of Instructional Technology, adjunct instructor, academic advisor, instructional technologist and Online Learning Program coordinator. She holds a bachelor of science degree from DeVry University and a master of arts from Greenville College.

She's been on board for just a few weeks and part of that time was surviving the start of a semester, which can be a trial for everyone on campus.

"We're excited to be at full staffing again in Distributed Education. We want to hear from faculty and students and see how we can partner with them on educational opportunities."

Supporting their Pioneer

Luke Primm plays basketball for the Pioneers. It's been a really tough semester for him. His mother, Catherine, died from cancer in January at the age of 45. Recently, his entire family turned out to root him on at a Vol State basketball game. It was quite a turnout of support. We're glad that his extended family could come out and be with his Vol State family for the evening.

Check out a men or women's basketball game. Here's the schedule.

Events this Week at Vol State

Ongoing                      Andy Dailey, art exhibit, Thigpen Gallery, 8am to 4:30pm, Mon.-Sat.
Feb. 9                          MTSU representative, Wood Campus Center, 10am—2pm
Feb. 10                        One Book: “American Promise” film, Thigpen Library, noon and 3:30pm
Feb. 11                        Transfer Day: Four-year school reps meet with students, Ramer Great Hall, 10:30am to 12:30pm
Feb. 11.                       Soul Food Luncheon, Nichols Dining Room, Noon
Feb. 12                        “Clearly You”, free laser crystal imaging, presented by Evening Services, Nichols Dining Room, 1:30pm to 7:30pm
Feb. 13                        Andy Dailey, artist gallery talk, Thigpen Library, 10am

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Congrats to Squatter's Rites

The 2014 edition of Squatter's Rites, Vol State's student literary magazine – which features a collection of artwork, poetry, short stories, and photography – took home second place in the magazine category of the American Scholastic Press Association awards. The annual competition awards the top publications from schools across the country.

Magazine art director Michael Clark didn't even realize the magazine was being entered into the competition until he found out from Squatter's Rites adviser and communications instructor Melissa Tyndall Fox.

The ASPA scored Squatter's Rites in a variety of categories, and Clark plans on using their suggestions to make the 2015 edition better.

"We're going to take every single suggestion that they have given us and try to work on it. We can take areas where we were lacking and improve on them for this year," he said. "We want to try to make it to first place, and I feel like we can. Now that we know exactly what areas we need to improve on, we can definitely take a step in the right direction. It also might open the door for more competitions that we've never been a part of."

Squatter's Rites awards two students each year — one for written work and the other for art. In the 2014 edition, Allison Pate received the Fusion Art and Design Award for her ink drawing entitled "Radiance." Ann Roberts received the John MacDougall Award for her poem entitled "I Broke My Shin," which recounts the story of a boy who is dumped on the same day he injures himself.

Roberts wrote the poem over a break and was surprised to learn she had been given the award. As a writer, she said having something like Squatter's Rites is important for Vol State because it gives students a chance to showcase their talents.

"If you're a creative writer, poems and short stories are something that you can read any time. Squatter's Rites is a good thing for Vol State to have for the students because there are a lot of artistic and creative people here," she said.

The deadline for submitting work to the 2015 edition is March 27. Students can submit any type of art they wish, including photos, drawings, poetry, and short stories. Work can be emailed to or to

A digital version of Squatter's Rites 2014 can be found here. For more on the magazine, including updates on submission deadlines, visit Facebook.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

TRIO Shows Off New Center

The move of the Testing Center to the Warf Building has freed up space in the Wood Campus Center for an expansion of the TRIO offices. For those of you not familiar, TRIO is a quite successful student support program funded with a federal grant. It currently serves about 170 students. The new digs include a student resource center with computers, and a gathering space for TRIO students to do homework and talk. The space is important because TRIO students tend to bond throughout the school-year, and enjoy sharing successes and challenges with each other.

The TRIO staff showed off the new rooms in an Open House. Feel free to drop by and see it for yourself. They're located behind the cafeteria on the second floor of the Wood Campus Center in room 210. Visit for more info about the program.

Vol State in the News

The Highland Crest campus is now officially owned and operated by the Tennessee Board of Regents. That announcement, and the growth of the Highland Crest campus, are the subjects of a story in the Robertson County Times.

You may remember the story of alumnus Deborah Savely and her family bible, found after 40 years and returned thanks to some dedicated Vol State sleuths. The story gained national attention and continues to be a touchstone for religious writers, as in this column in the Detroit News.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dr. Faulkner: All the News that is Fit to Print

I am a news junkie.  My brother once remarked that I watch more TV news than any person he knows.  I usually take in the local and national TV news while eating my morning cereal.  If I am at home for lunch my food is accompanied by the mid-day TV broadcast.  In the evening I usually watch the full broadcast of both the local news and the national news.  If I have time, I may watch a second version of the local news on another channel.  I read the Tennessean every day and each edition of the Gallatin New Examiner.  I’m also on the list serve for several on-line publications and read the Chronicle on my iPad.
Although I don’t subscribe, I like USA Today.  I really enjoy getting one when I stay in a hotel and so I was pleased when the Tennessean began to include a USA Today section.  I especially like the State By State page where short, Twitter like articles appear from each of the 50 states and DC.  It gives a quick snapshot of what is happening around the country.  I was a bit disappointed when this section was deleted at the first of the year.

I do wonder, though, how these snippets are chosen.  Among the articles about crime, urban renewal, significant scientific discoveries, and other typical headline stories I find seemingly trivial reports.  It makes me wonder what was happening in a state on that day such that this was the most important story for the day.  Here are a few of my recent favorites:

IDAHO Caldwell:  A 12-year-old cat named Pete who lived at an animal shelter for a year and a half has been adopted.

MARYLAND Ocean City:  Two men were arrested for punching a police horse, The Daily Times reported.  Police charged Eric Ryan Dudkiewicz, 23, and Demetrios Xanthos, 26, with interfering with a police animal.  (I wonder if they had just watched Blazing Saddles?)

NEW MEXICO Santa Fe:  Officials say an episode of the next season of ABC’s The Bachelor that features the city will air in February.

SOUTH DAKOTA Sioux Falls:  A proposed ordinance would make it illegal to feed deer within city limits.

NEVADA Sparks:  The beloved Last Chance Joe statue that has graced the entrance of the John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino for 56 years will be moved to a Sparks Museum after the casino’s new owner decided to have it taken down, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Tuesday.
And last but not least:

WISCONSIN Wrightstown:  An overturned truck spilled about 5,000 gallons of manure in southern Brown County, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.