Monday, August 31, 2015

Be A Tn Promise Mentor!

There are plenty of reasons to be a TN Promise Mentor. I took part in the program last year and it was rewarding to help high school students set a clear path through college. I had students who were confused by the differences between TCATs, community colleges and universities. I had several who had no idea what programs Vol State offered. I helped them to find the path that was right for them and stay on track with what they needed to do in the TN Promise program.

The Tennessean had a good article today explaining the importance of mentors to TN Promise.

There is no doubt in my mind that the best mentors out there are people who work at a community college or TCAT. You already have a base of knowledge about higher ed that most people don't have. Put that knowledge to an even greater good - consider being a TN Promise mentor this coming school year. I have signed-up again. The sign-up has been extended. It only takes a couple of minutes to sign-up and only a couple of hours a month to participate. Here is the sign-up page.

-Eric Melcher

Help to Determine Our Future

Higher Ed is changing quickly. There are many challenges we face and many directions we should consider. This is your opportunity to participate in the strategic planning for the college. That planning will set the agenda for the next ten years.

The college has a series of Listening Sessions coming up soon to get input from faculty, staff, students and the community. The questions asked will include: What does Vol State do well? What can Vol State do better? And, what should Vol State be doing in the future? These discussions will include ideas on strengthening college relationships with K-12 education and how to expand the Vol State commitment to business and workforce development. The sessions will be informal and provide plenty of opportunity for conversation. Participants are asked to come with ideas to share.

The faculty and staff Listening Sessions will be held on Friday, September 11 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Nichols Dining Room of the Wood Campus Center. You are also welcome to attend the public meeting on September 29 at 8 a.m. also in the Nichols Dining Room

People can submit ideas for Vol State planning online by visiting For other questions please call Lauren Collier at 615-230-3530. The current college strategic goals can be found at

Sumner County Impact Award

Dr. Faulkner was recently awarded a Sumner County Impact Award by the Nashville Business Journal (NBJ). Each year the NBJ honors a group of Sumner County leaders who have made a difference. Here are a couple of Dr. Faulkner's answers from the survey that led to the award:

Other than the people you work with and for, what is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is to be able to go around the Vol State service area and tell people about the many ways that Vol State contributes to the community.  There are many misperceptions about the quality and quantity of opportunities Vol State provides.  Too many people think Vol State consists of the three buildings visible from Nashville Pike.  I like to surprise them with what happens in those three buildings and in the 14 other buildings that are part of our Sumner County campus.

What is the biggest challenge facing Sumner County? 

As more employers consider Sumner County as a potential site for new location or for expansion of existing facilities, a well prepared workforce continues to be a top priority.  In order to meet this challenge,  local government, the Sumner County Schools, and Vol State must partner with business and industry to create a skilled and work-ready populous. 

Vol State in the News

Tennessee Promise students at Vol State tell about their first day on campus. It's in the Tennessean Sumner A.M.

And now we're already working to get current high school seniors signed-up for Tn Promise. The college has help sessions coming up on all campuses. See the website for details. Here's the story in the Tennessean.

The Fall Job Career Fair is coming up on Wednesday, September 23. Here's coverage on Channel 5 and the Lebanon Democrat.

September 2015 Calendar of Events

Ongoing          Faculty Art Exhibition, Thigpen Gallery and Ramer Great Hall, through October 5

Sept. 1             Welcome Day and Commit to Completion Signing, Highland Crest, 10am to 1pm

Sept. 2             Welcome Day and Commit to Completion Signing, Livingston, 10am to 1pm         

Sept. 7             Labor Day Holiday, all locations closed

Sept. 8             Cycling 101- How Do I Get Started?, Vol State Bike Club, Nichols Dining, Noon

Sept. 9             Intramural Soccer Sign-ups, Library Lawn, 2pm

Sept. 9            Coffee with the Prez. Cafeteria, 10am-11am

Sept. 10           Commit to Completion Signing, Cafeteria, 10am to 1pm

Sept. 10           Belmont University Nursing Info, Warf Room 110, 12:45pm-2:10pm

Sept. 11           Harvest Moon Soiree, Bluegrass Country Club, 5:30pm, tickets $75, Foundation

Sept. 12           TN Promise Sign-Up Event, campus-wide, 8am, RSVP to

Sept. 15, 16     Career Readiness Symposiums, all students invited, Caudill Hall, 12:45-2:10pm

Sept. 16           Hispanic Heritage Quiz Bowl, Cafeteria, 12:45pm

Sept. 17           Constitution Day, Speech and Election 2016, Thigpen Library, 1pm

Sept. 17           Cumberland Nursing Info Session, Warf 110, 12:45-2:10pm

Sept. 17           TN Promise Sign-Up Event, campus-wide, 5pm, RSVP to

Sept. 18           Movie Night: Avengers Age of Ultron, Library Lawn or Pickel, Dusk (6:45pm)

Sept. 22           Motivational Speaker: Odell Bizzell, Nichols Dining Room, 12:45pm

Sept. 23           Fall Job Career Fair, Pickel Field House, 10am-1pm

Sept. 23           Sumner County College Night, Pickel Field House, 6pm to 8pm

Sept. 29           Open Mic- Students Perform, Library Second Floor, 12:45-2:10pm

Sept. 29           TN Promise Sign-Up Event, Highland Crest, 5pm, RSVP to

Sept. 30           Employee Benefits Fair, Ramer Great Hall, 10am-3pm

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Promise of TN Promise

The latest numbers, as of August 24,  have 1486 Tennessee Promise students attending Vol State classes this fall. That pushes overall enrollment up more than five percent. The Promise students are also credited with increasing our Full Time Equivalency. It’s up nearly 15 percent over last year. The thought is that Promise students have to take at least 12 credit hours, so we have more students taking more classes.

So, now the big questions: How will they do academically? And perhaps most importantly- what will we do to help them succeed?

We have four new completion coaches on campus this semester. That means that each academic division will have a person to contact students who are in trouble (Health Sciences already has such a position). But that can only happen if faculty members use the ALERTS system as early as possible. The goal is to stage an academic intervention with students who are doing poorly, and to do that intervention as early in the semester as possible. The completion coaches, coordinated by the Office of Retention, will contact students in trouble and help those students get extra academic support. The college will also have a new software system, called Starfish, to help with ALERTS and intervention.

Tennessee Promise students may be a different type of community college student. They are already used to responding to deadlines and listening to instructions, just by the very nature of the Tennessee Promise program requirements.

“They have been pushed to complete things much earlier than we have seen before,” said Dr. Emily Short, assistant vice president for Enrollment Management. “They’ve been indoctrinated early.”

A Summer Bridge pilot program attempted to get Promise students up to speed in English and Math.

“The Bridge Program was successful. We had 96 percent of students who took Summer Bridge either increase their scores,” said Short. “49 students out of 81 in the pilot tested out of some or all of their Learning Support needs.”

The hope is to expand Bridge next year.

In the meantime, the focus is also on recruiting a new class of Tennessee Promise students. The application for high school seniors to enroll in Tennessee Promise is open now. The deadline is November 2. Vol State will be holding info sessions for the high school students in September and October. Click here for a list of the dates and other details for students. 

“We learned a lot this year,” Short said. “We have learned how to better prepare ourselves and how to better prepare campus for an influx of students like this.”

Vol State is also trying to retain the title of most college employees signed-up as TN Promise mentors. It is rewarding volunteer work. You have the opportunity to put students on the right path and get them thinking about college programs and requirements much earlier than the typical community college student.

“I have already signed up,” said Criminal Justice instructor James Brown. “I enjoy helping a new group of students. I like to think I made a difference for them.”

You can sign-up, as either a new or returning mentor, here.

Dr. Faulkner: Fish Out of Water

From 1962 to 1971 one of the most popular television programs was The Beverley Hillbillies.  For the young and unenlightened the 30 minute weekly program was about a family of hillbillies who became over-night millionaires because oil was discovered on their mountain land.  (Bubblin’ crude, black gold, Texas tea.)  They moved from a one room mountain cabin to a mansion in Beverley Hills.  (Swimmin’ pools, movie stars.)  Most episodes can be viewed on You Tube.  The plot of each episode generally revolved around their discovery of this new and different world.  The program is widely regarded as the first of the “fish out of water” genre of TV programs.  They never did find the ghost that played chimes in the mansion but they did come to realize that each time it happened someone would shortly knock on the front door.

Other programs of this genre followed with more or less of the theme included.  The 1979 to 1981 program Buck Rogers in the 25th Century capitalized on the idea.  Even today’s hit series The Big Bang widely uses the inability of Sheldon Cooper to understand the world around him as a comic device and plot topic.

What got me thinking about this is an article in UB Magazine (March, 2015)  (  that offers 20 recommendations for how we can better serve first generation students.  We have always had a high number of students that are first in their family to attend college.  I really enjoy asking first in their family students to stand at graduation and so appreciate the applause they receive.  With the TnPromise, we believe the number of these students will increase dramatically.
Many of these first generation students will feel like fish out of water.  One of my favorite stories is of a TnAchieves student who arrived on campus on the first day of the semester.  He called his mentor in a bit of a panic because he couldn’t find the MWF building. 

I thought back on personal occasions when I felt out of place and tried to remember what helped me to get through.  In most instances it was some person that took time to guide me along.  These mentors:
·         gave me a heads-up on what to expect.
·         explained things in a clear way without acronyms or jargon.
·         anticipated where the rough spots may be.
·         answered my questions.
·         stayed close by to bolster my confidence.
·         never made me feel embarrassed because of what I didn’t know.

You may not have signed up to be a TnPromise mentor, but all of us can help these new students that will be arriving on our campus feeling like fish out of water.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

Meet the New English Faculty Members

The English Department is officially the largest academic department on campus, perhaps a friendly and well-read English army, judging from this picture. Here's a note from Laura Black:

It's been a busy summer in the English Department.  We've hired in nine new full-time term/temporary English faculty. These new colleagues include Julia Cawthon, Arlo Hall, Emily Ledbetter, Cori Mathis, Laura McClister, Joy Nettles, Sarah Passino, Cathy Randall, and Stephanie Webb.  Currently, we have hired in over twenty new adjunct faculty, and we are still hiring as we continue to add classes.

We are thinking of changing our name to the English Division.  

We're in for a big year ahead as we implement the new Co-req model and teach over 100 sections of ENGL 1010, a record offering to fulfill the Tennessee Promise.

-Laura Black, English Department Chair

Vol State in the News

PBS Newshour, the national news broadcast for public television, was on the Gallatin campus a few weeks back to do a story about Tn Promise preps. That TV story is scheduled to run tonight at 6pm on Channel 8, Nashville Public Television. However, as is always the case with a feature story, it could be delayed due to breaking national news. If so, I will let everyone know the reschedule date. Here is a link to their website. The full broadcast is usually available the next day.

The Humanities Building topping-off ceremony was a great event, decades in the making, Here is the story in the Tennessean.

A couple of our new faculty members are part of this timeline the Tennessean put together about Tn Promise.

A Gift from Barry Cecil's Daughter

One of the founding fathers of Vol State passed away in 2003, but his daughter has left the college with something very personal to remember his commitment to the school. Barry Cecil was a business leader who worked with founding President Hal R. Ramer to bring the college to Gallatin in 1972. Cecil even served as the master of ceremonies at the college groundbreaking ceremony. The Cecil name is remembered in a Vol State scholarship set up by the family. Now his daughter Nan Rankin has donated the military flag from Barry Cecil’s funeral to Vol State. The flag was given to his daughter after the death of Mrs. Cecil in 2013.

“I have had it at home and every time I see it I think that’s nice, but why can’t we do something meaningful with this to honor Dad?” said Rankin.

The flag is flying over the college at the Ramer Building this week.

“The college meant a lot to him. He frequently gave scholarships to people without ever giving his name,” Rankin said. “He knew how important Vol State is to people in this area.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Topping-Off Ceremony

The signatures of Vol State faculty, staff and donors are now a permanent part of the new $30 million Humanities Building, currently under construction on the Gallatin campus. People had the opportunity to sign a beam that was used during a topping-off ceremony for the new building this week at Convocation. The beam was then raised by a crane and put into place.

The three-story structure  is officially named the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities Building. Lead gift donors Dr. David and U.S. Congressman Diane Black, who gave $1 million for the project, decided to share the naming with two well-known Sumner County families, John and Jane Steinhauer and Marion and Clara Rogan. Construction is due to be completed in summer of 2016. If everything goes as planned, classes will be held in the building in fall of 2016. When finished, the 88 thousand square foot facility will have 44 classrooms and labs, 56 faculty offices, a recording studio, music practice rooms, and an art gallery.

From left to right: Chris Steigerwald, Messer Construction; Tom Jones, Messer Construction; Jerry Faulkner, Vol State president; Alycia Ehlert, dean of Humanities; Karen Mitchell, vice-president of Resource Development; Michael Burris, Moody-Nolan of Nashville; and Tom Lampe, Messer Construction.

Good News on the Construction Front

The beam signing was an exciting step forward for the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities Building project. But there is more exciting news as the project moves forward: The majority of campus disruptions for the Humanities Building project should be behind us. That's the word from Glenda Godwin, director of Construction and Facilities. There will continue to be one pedestrian area closed to foot traffic.

"The steps leading from the Wood Campus center to the Library will remain closed for the duration of the project," Godwin said. "Which means folks coming to Wood from Mattox or the far parking lots must go through the Library,"

An expanded H lot opened recently and you may notice the new diagonal parking spaces near Caudill Hall. The major roadwork is completed for the project and that means that the biggest inconvenience to students, faculty and staff should be over. That's not to say there won't be more small closures in the next year.

Godwin says the rest of the Humanities Building project will be more steelwork, mechanical, electrical and finishing. The final touch will be new landscaping that better connects Wallace South and the new Humanities Building to the rest of campus, providing students with more green space and more outdoor study and relaxation space.

The Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities Building will be  the largest building on campus when finished.

Important Info About Emergency Text Alerts

All employees of Vol State have been deleted from the emergency texting service. We need you to sign-up again if you wish to receive emergency texts. Here’s why:

Vol State is changing its texting system to better help students stay in touch with important information.

We now have two separate texting systems.

The first is probably familiar to you, as we have been using it for several years. It is emergency text alerts for weather situations, campus closings, campus delays, traffic issues etc. We call it Vol State Text Alerts.

The change is that all registered students who have a cell phone on record with the college are now automatically signed-up for this system. However, students can opt-out of these texts at any time by simply texting STOP to any text we send.

Faculty and staff will not be automatically signed-up. And because of this change you will need to sign-up again. We have wiped the emergency text system clean. If you want to receive emergency texts please visit this sign-up page and sign-up again. We know this is an inconvenience, but the system changes require it. You can also receive emails for notification if you would like. It’s all in the sign-up system.

Be sure to mark the box that specifies “faculty/staff” when you sign-up. This will allow us to text faculty and staff separately from students. Also, please pick your campus in the check boxes. You can choose multiple campuses if you wish.

A New Texting System

All registered students are also now automatically signed-up for a new texting system called VS Student Texts.

This service will text students once or twice a week with important college information: when fees are due, when to check for financial aid notifications, when priority registration opens. Students are automatically signed-up for this system if they have a cell phone on record with the college. Students can opt out of these texts at any time by simply texting STOP to any text we send. Faculty and staff will not receive these texts.

If for some reason you wish to also sign up for the student informational text system or if you have questions or need help, please contact the Vol State PR office at

Vol State in the News

Vol State received a $89,104 Tennessee grant recently to better serve student veterans. The Veteran Reconnect Grant, funded by the legislature and awarded by the Governor's Office, will help us hire a new person to assist in Veteran's Affairs and provide a space for Vol State veterans to meet on campus in Gallatin. Here's the story in the Tennessean.

The Foundation Harvest Moon Soirée is coming up on September 11. Tickets are on sale now. The Lebanon Democrat has this piece.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Congrats to Mallory

Mallory Higginbotham is officially the Clinical Director of Education for the Respiratory Care Program, as of last May. She had been interim Clinical Director since September of 2014. Mallory has been with Vol State for several years as a lab instructor and adjunct faculty member. She works at Sumner Regional Medical Center and TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center as a registered respiratory therapist.

"We already have a great program and great assets with the hospitals in the area," she said. "We have started to do more community service work. We've been reaching out to the community to do events like the Lung Walk and Lung Climb."

The Lung Climb is a stair climbing fund raiser held by the Nashville Chapter of the American Lung Association.

Higginbotham is a 2010 graduate the Vol State Respiratory Care Program. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Relations and Management from Trevecca Nazarene University.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Honoring Heroes

The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor in the nation. It recognizes personal acts of valor on the part of servicemen and women, above and beyond the call of duty. Vol State hosted an event highlighting Medal of Honor recipients on August 7. We had three recipients at the Vol State program, which was part of a series of events called "Nashville Salutes." The program started with a video of the honorees recalling the battles that lead to their awards. Hiroshi Miyamura held back a series of attacks on his position during the Korean War. He held the line so that troops could withdraw, fighting again and again until he was badly wounded. Jay Vargas led his men through a rice paddy in Vietnam under intense fire and then fought in hand-to-hand combat to keep the position. Clinton Romesha served in Afghanistan. An estimated 300 enemy fighters surrounded and attacked his post. Through a day-long battle Romesha led troops in attacking the enemy and saving wounded soldiers. All three men faced overwhelming circumstances and lost friends and comrades to enemy fire. Each said that the Medal of Honor was a daily reminder of the soldiers who died in those battles.

The Medal of Honor recipients then spoke to the crowd in a panel discussion, talking about how they grew up and why military service is so important to them. The crowd had many questions and an opportunity to speak to the veterans in person, after the program. It was an emotional and educational event that reminded everyone of the sacrifices of war and how one person can step up and make an incredible difference.

Pictured: Dr. Jerry Faulkner, Hiroshi Miyamura, Jay Vargas, Clinton Romesha and State Senator Ferrell Haile.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Musical Impersonations at Harvest Moon Soirée

The Vol State Foundation Harvest Moon Soirée will be held on Friday, September 11 at the Bluegrass Yacht and Country Club in Hendersonville. The annual fundraising dinner supports student scholarships at Vol State. Tickets are on sale now. The Soirée will have a silent auction again this year.  A few of the items will include: a cherry media console from Cresent Enterprises, Inc.; a guided wildflower walk; a seven-night stay in a cabin; a two-night stay at Tropicana Evansville; and a handmade table by John B. Garrott.

The entertainment will be a music and comedy show by Gary Jenkins, who has appeared on TV’s “Crook and Chase,” “Nashville Now,” and “American Magazine.” His act features comedic impersonations of famous entertainers, including Garth Brooks, Mick Jagger, and Elvis.

Sponsorship packages, tables, and individual seats are available through Friday, September 4, while space is available. Individual tickets are $75 each. The Titanium and event title sponsor this year is Sumner Regional Medical Center with a $20,000 commitment to the Soirée. Sponsorships are still available. Please contact Deb Daugherty at 615-230-3526 or for more information.

The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and the silent auction. Dinner and entertainment will follow. For tickets call the Foundation at 615-230-3506, or email   

The 2015 Harvest Moon Soirée Committee is Shirley Arrendale, Wanda Faulkner, Jim Harding, Diane Hughes, Dixie Jones, Hilary Marabeti, Chris Nichols, Laurette Nuckols, Grace Tomkins, Sandy Webster, and Betty Zuccarello with support from the Foundation staff.

Pictured: the silent auction in 2014.