Monday, September 28, 2015

October Calendar of Vol State Events

Oct. 1                    “What is Race?” panel discussion, Thigpen Library, Rochelle, 1pm

Oct. 1                    Brock McGuire, Irish musical group, Nichols Dining Room, 3pm and 7pm

Oct. 1                    TN Promise Sign-Up Event, campus-wide, 5pm, RSVP to

Oct. 3                    Commercial Music Ensemble, Main Street Festival, Gallatin, Noon

Oct. 6                    Solid State Logic consoles talk, recording industry, Thigpen Library, Rochelle, 1:30pm

Oct. 7                    Hispanic Heritage Celebration, Nichols Dining Room, 12:45pm, RSVP Student Life

Oct. 8                    TN Promise Sign-Up Event, Livingston, 5pm, RSVP to

Oct. 9                    What Matters? Movie and Discussion, Mattox 104, 9:30am

Oct. 10                  TN Promise Sign-Up Event, campus-wide, 8am, RSVP to

Oct. 10                  Women’s Basketball Scrimmage, Pickel Field House, 10am

Oct. 12, 13            Fall Break – No Classes

Oct. 12-16             STEM Camp for kids, campus-wide

Oct. 13                  TN Promise Sign-Up Event, campus-wide, 5pm, RSVP to

Oct. 15                  TN Promise Sign-Up Event, Cookeville CHEC, 5pm, RSVP to

Oct. 17                  Community Garden Work Day, next to Mattox, 8am

Oct. 17                  Fall Fiesta at Vol State, celebration of Hispanic culture, campus-wide, 10am-3pm

Oct. 19                  Diversity Week: Movie and Discussion, Nichols Dining Room, 11:30am-2pm

Oct. 20                  Diversity Week: Male & Female Roles in Pop Culture, discussion, Ramer Hall, 12:45pm

Oct. 20                  Coffee with the Prez, Cafeteria, 10:30am-11:30am

Oct. 22                  Diversity Week: Religion and Christian Privilege, Nichols Dining Room, 11:30am-1pm

Oct. 22                  Ming Wang, ophthalmic surgeon shares life story, Caudill Hall, 11:15am 

Oct. 23                  Diversity Week: Race Test, Nichols Dining Room and Cafeteria, 11am-3pm

Oct. 24                  TN Promise Sign-Up Event, campus-wide, 8am, RSVP to

Oct. 27                  Food Fair, local food advocates, farmers, pumpkin carving, Library Lawn, 11a-2p  

Oct. 28                  Fall Festival, Nichols Dining Room, 10am-2pm

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Vol State in the News

TRIO receives some nice attention in this WKYU NPR affiliate story from Bowling Green.

The Fall Fiesta at Vol State is coming up on October 17. The Hendersonville Standard has the release.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Remembering a Remarkable Young Man

Meeting amazing students is one of the great joys of working at Vol State. Jon VanDoran was truly a stand-out on campus. He may be best known in a public way for his ability to walk on his hands for distances. It was just one of the many things he learned to do as a result of  being born prematurely. Jon had a blood clot in his spine that left him paralyzed for the first year of his life. Even after his legs started working again, miraculously, it was with greatly diminished strength.

Jon died last week of a brain tumor. He was a student at Tennessee Tech, which was the next step in his journey, after graduating from Vol State in 2013. 

Jon walked around the Vol State campus using crutches, and only using a wheelchair when it became absolutely necessary. His reason for doing so was something that defined him, as he told us in an interview in 2012.

“My parents were very old fashion and they weren’t willing to take it easy on me,” VanDoran said. “I wanted to use my wheelchair and my father wouldn’t let me. They just wanted me to develop the discipline to be successful. They wanted to push me hard, but not too hard. Their big challenge was finding that balance.”

His drive to succeed helped him earn a second degree black belt in San Soo Kung Fu. He also built a motorcycle that he could use without his legs. His dream was to help kids with disabilities, by creating new adaptive technology. His mechanical engineering studies provided him with the tools he would need. Jon knew from experience that adaptive technology is often cumbersome and clunky.

“Kids want something that is cool. I want to develop pieces that kids would be proud to have.”

There are many of us here on campus who were both shocked and saddened to hear of Jon's passing. He touched many lives.

"Jon was an inspiration to all who knew him," said Parris Powers. "Truly a remarkable person and a great student while at Vol State"

"I have no doubt that when I retire and think about all of the students I've had, Jon will still stand out as one of my favorite people I've ever had the pleasure to teach," Pete Melvin said. "He was a good student, but it was much more than that - he was an inspiration. Jon didn't let his disability hold him back physically or psychologically. I think he viewed it as an extra challenge, which he triumphantly overcame again and again. That problem-solving drive led to his pursuit of an engineering degree, with a vision of designing mechanical accommodations to help others achieve more out of life."

This info on services for Jon comes from his family. We wish them the best in this difficult time. Jon will be fondly remembered here at Vol State.

The memorial services for Jon Ironman VanDoran will be held in two locations. At Presley funeral home in Cookeville Tennessee on Saturday, September 26, there will be a visitation at 3 PM and a service at 4 PM followed by a potluck picnic at Cane Creek Park in Cookeville at 6 PM. All are invited to the picnic and encouraged to come fellowship with us. The second service will be at First Baptist Church in Pulaski Tennessee on Sunday, October 4 with visitation at 2 PM and service at 3 PM followed by a potluck at the church. 

TN Promise Sign-Up Push - We Need Your Help

There was a lot of media attention last year about TN Promise sign-up for high school seniors. There won't be that kind of coverage this year, so we need everyone to help spread the word. High school seniors who want to take part in TN Promise need to sign-up now. The deadline is November 2.

Vol State has been holding sessions to get students ready. At each session, participants have access to computers to complete the on-line Tennessee Promise application, and the online Vol State application. Those who apply to Vol State at the sessions will be waived from having to pay the normal $20 application fee. The Gallatin campus sessions will be Saturday, September 26 at 8 a.m.; Thursday, October 1 at 5p.m.; Saturday October 10 at 8 a.m.; Tuesday, October 13 at 5 p.m.; and Saturday, October 24 at 8 a.m. A Springfield session will be held at the Highland Crest campus on Tuesday, September 29 at 5 p.m. A Livingston session will be held on Thursday, October 8 at 5 p.m. A Cookeville Higher Education Campus session will be held on Thursday, October 15 at 5 p.m. Reservations are required for all sessions and can be completed online by visiting Exact locations at the campuses will be provided after that sign-up. For more information about the Tennessee Promise at Vol State visit the web page or call the Vol State Admissions Office at 615-230-3688.

Camp STEM for Your K-6 Kids over Fall Break

Vol State and community parents looking for something for their children to do during fall school break can use the opportunity to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering and math. Those areas make up what is referred to as STEM. Camp STEM for kids will provide hands-on educational fun. The camp will be held on the Vol State Gallatin Campus from October 12-16. The science camp is designed for kids in K-6. The students will use Vol State science labs and other facilities. The activities are taught by area grade school teachers. Topics covered include Earth Science, Astronomy, Aerospace, and Robotics.

“Camp STEM gives local students the opportunity to explore science in a way that challenges and stimulates them while broadening their horizons through building, creating, and designing,” said organizer, Beth Moore. “These activities give them skills that have real-world applications and allow them to get an early start on their future.” 

Camp STEM started at Middle Tennessee State University several years ago. The popularity is bringing it to new locations. The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. The cost is $125 for the week. For more information about the camp and to register, visit the website at

Monday, September 14, 2015

Listening and Planning for the Future

If you haven't been able to attend a strategic plan Listening Session, you might be wondering what they have been like. The goal is to set a course for the future. A recent session brought faculty and staff to the Nichols Dining Room. Attendees formed into smaller groups and were asked to provide short answers to three big questions. Here are some of the responses from the group I attended.

What does Vol State do well?
-Friendly and welcoming campus
-Talented faculty and staff
-Students feel a part of campus

What can Vol State do better?
-Interdepartmental communication
-Do more with high schools to facilitate academic preparation
-Student retention and graduation

Given all the resources necessary, what should Vol State do in five years?
-All Health Sciences programs should be in one location
-Have more academic programs in sync with employer needs
-Connect the curriculum better to workforce needs
-Update employee job descriptions to better match current needs and technology
-Better adjunct pay
-TRIO for all students on campus

Needless to say, every group came up with some similar ideas and some unique ideas. There will be a distillation process to formulate responses in a way that allows them to be considered in writing the strategic plan.

You still have an opportunity to participate. Other sessions are coming up for the public, but faculty and staff are welcome to attend. Note the Gallatin campus session below on September 29.  Faculty and staff are also encouraged to submit thoughts and ideas online.

A Davidson County Listening Session will be held on September 15 at 4:30 p.m. at 50 Forward, 301 Madison Street in Madison.

A Macon County Listening Session will be held on September 17 at 10:00 a.m. at the Macon County Welcome Center, 685 Hwy 52 Bypass West in Lafayette.

A Smith and Trousdale County Listening Session will be held on September 22 at 7:30 a.m. at the Smith County Chamber of Commerce, 939 Upper Ferry Road in Carthage.

A Wilson County Listening Session will be held on September 23 at 7:30 a.m. at Courtney’s CafĂ©, 4066 N. Mt. Juliet Road in Mt. Juliet.

A Livingston Listening Session will be held on September 24 at 1 p.m. on the Livingston Campus at 113 Windle Community Road.

A Sumner County Listening Session will be held on September 29 at 8:00 a.m. at the Wood Campus Center, Nichols Dining Room B, on the Gallatin campus at 1480 Nashville Pike.

A Robertson County Listening Session will be held on September 29 at 9 a.m. at the Highland Crest Campus, 150 Laureate Avenue in Springfield.

Upcoming Career Events for Students

Please let your students know about career events coming up this week and next. The first are Career Readiness Symposiums. These are designed to get students prepped for the upcoming Job Career Fair. The sessions will include info on resume writing and meeting company representatives. They will be held on Tuesday, September 15 and Wednesday, September 16 from 12:45pm to 2;10pm in Caudill Hall. Everyone is welcome and no reservations are needed.

Internships, job search skills training, and using social media in a job search are three of the topics set for discussion at the 2015 Fall Job Career Fair at Vol State. Dozens of employers will be on site and everyone is invited. The event provides an opportunity for job seekers to talk directly with the people responsible for hiring at many area companies. Participants are encouraged to bring their resumes.

The Vol State Job Career Fair will have information about internships available at local businesses. The skills training will include how job seekers can dress for success, enhance communication skills, and use social media as part of their search. The Career Fair will be held in the gym at the Pickel Field House on Wednesday, September 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteer State Community College is located at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. For more information call 615-230-3307 or visit

Meet the Ambassadors

Please join us in welcoming a new group of President’s Ambassadors for 2015-2016. The Ambassadors represent the College at events, conduct campus tours and help with public relations. They're always an impressive group of students and it's fun to work with them on events over the course of the semester. So, here they are left to right, back row first: Jenny Hernandez of Gallatin; Brenly McDonald of Westmoreland; Brandon Herbert of Mount Juliet; Sarah Cody of Cookeville; KJ Kitchens of Lafayette; Peyton Leach of Hendersonville; Megan Ratliff of Gallatin; Charlotte Masiongale of Byrdstown; Whitney Dickerson of Riddleton; Kristen Dedman of Lebanon; and Allison Goodpaster of Hendersonville.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Vol State in the News

The PBS Newshour story about TN Promise and featuring Vol State has finally aired, after a couple of delays. Here is a link to this national coverage. Thanks to everyone who helped to make it happen.

The Tennessean has this piece on TN Promise enrollment numbers. Vol State is near the top for both enrollment increase and FTE increase.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Park and Ride Grand Opening

 The Greensboro North Park and Ride location had an official opening on Friday. It's located on Enterprise Drive, directly across from the back entrance to Vol State. It's home to the Metro Transit Authority Express bus to downtown Nashville. Here are some details on the park and ride and future development for that area in the Tennessean.

Welcome International Scholars

The Humphrey’s program returns to Vol State this year. The group of International scholars is shown here with Dr. Faulkner during their first visit to campus recently. There will be more visits, including opportunities for classroom talks and student interaction,  throughout the school year. International Education director John Espey has an update:

The Humphrey’s program is a Fulbright US State Department – Institute for International Education (IIE)   professional program that brings selected educational leaders from developing countries to the U.S. for two semesters of professional development through program participation with only about 12 universities in the country, including Vanderbilt. 

Volunteer State is the affiliate campus for the Humphrey’s program at Vanderbilt University and that gets us speakers, contacts and provides us an opportunity to contribute to the professional development of these international leaders who will return to their countries with an experience that will touch thousands of faculty, students and countless communities.

Our relationship and our participation in the program is that we teach the Fellows what a community college involves and they provide us with their national, professional, and cultural backgrounds throughout the year.  During the year the Fellows will be back on our campus several times and present a session in Livingston as well. 

This year’s ten Fellows are representing several countries including –

Cote d’Ivorie
Papua New Guinea

-John Espey

Biking for Newbies

Riding a bike may have been easy when you were a kid, but now...can old people even ride bikes? The first answer is that nearly everyone can ride a bike. The second answer is that you are not old.  If you haven't been on a bike in a while, you should consider taking to two wheels for health and for fun.

"I was a little nervous," said Len Assante, who started biking again last year. "I didn't know if I was going to fall off. They say you never forget and it was like that. I wobbled a little bit and then it was just like old times."

Members of the Vol State bike club, known as the Pedaling Pioneers, want to help you get started. They're holding a lunch and learn on Wednesday, September 8 starting at noon in the Nichols Dining Room. It's called Cycling 101 - How Do I Get Started? The club does regular rides, designed for the returning bicyclist. They used those rides to get ready for the Vol State Cycling Classic last year, where they rode as a team. That next event will be held in May, so you have plenty of time to get ready.

"When you first ride with a group you don't know the skill differences between people," Assante said. "Is everyone going to be better than me and faster than me? That turned out not to be an issue. I thought it would be more fun to bike by myself. That that's not true. It's more fun to ride with a group."

We hope to see an even bigger Vol State group in May at the Cycling Classic!