Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Chat with the New Dean of Math and Science

Tom Ekman took on the new role as dean of Math and Science in August...just in time for an Eclipse event and the start of the fall semester. 

He has taught chemistry at Vol State for the last four years and served as chair of the Science Department. Previously he was at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, as project consultant at the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. He was associate director in the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations, and later director of the Medical Center Development and Alumni Relations. Ekman also taught Chemistry at Vanderbilt as an adjunct and visiting associate professor of Chemistry. He has held teaching positions at two other universities. He earned a B.A. degree in Chemistry from Lyon College, and a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Louisiana State University.

“I am a problem solver. In my experience at Vanderbilt, I spent 13 years on the support staff there solving problems,” Ekman said. “I see that as a big part of the dean’s work.”

And his goals for the new position?

“I want to strengthen and support the disciplines and courses we currently have, and then expand our relationships with other institutions,” he said. “I want to provide more experiences for students in undergraduate science research and have more professional development opportunities for faculty members.”

Where did Eclipse Visitors Come From?

The Eclipse was a big event for the college. It brought in more than 3,000 people from all over the globe. Dr. Faulkner put together this list. At the end you will find yet another letter from visitors who expressed gratitude for the event.

Dominican Republic

United States
New Jersey
New York  
North Carolina
South Carolina
Washington D.C.                              

Dear Dr. Faulkner,
Thank you for making your campus an eclipse watching location. I drove to Tennessee from Gettysburg, PA with my husband and adult daughter. We planned our eclipse adventure based on the information you submitted to the American Astronomical Society website. We arrived on your campus at 6:30 am and stayed until 2:00 pm. The security guard at the entrance gave us such a warm welcome that we knew we had come to the right place for this "once in a lifetime" adventure. 

Every volunteer was informative, helpful, friendly, and seemed to share our excitement. We loved your welcoming remarks, the lectures on history and math of eclipses, the shared telescopes, the maps, restrooms, and the way your campus made it an affordable day for everyone. 

My most memorable time was sitting on the library lawn listening to a NASA specialist and a science teacher narrate the eclipse by conversing with each other. When they told the crowd to remove their glasses to witness totality, the communal gasp of wonder was exhilarating! Your staff gave us an amazing day. Please share my gratitude with the people that worked so diligently to make August 21, 2017 truly meaningful. Bravo to Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee!
Sincerely, Eileen Mathias

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Fall Fiesta and Potential Student Projects

The Fall Fiesta at Vol State is coming up on Saturday, October 21 from 10am to 3pm on the Gallatin campus. We encourage faculty to use this event to tie into course work, through community service or extra credit assignments. 

Topics could include Latino music, art, education, health care and cultural studies. How are Latinos keeping Aztec culture alive? What are the different types of Latino music and food. How does food tie into cultural perspective in a country? How are Mexicans different from Guatemalans? How are different states in Mexico different from each other?

If you're interested in participating with your call email eric.melcher@volstate.edu

As always, you and your family are invited to this free event! Here's the basic info.

The Miss Princesa Americas Pageant will come to Volunteer State Community College on Saturday, October 21 as part of the Fall Fiesta at Vol State. The competition will be held live on the plaza stage. The annual celebration of Latino culture will include a soccer goal kicking contest with several age categories from kids to adult. The Fiesta is a free event featuring food, music, and fun.

“Vol State hosts the Fiesta each year to help showcase many of the nations and cultures that we call Latino,” said Eric Melcher with Vol State. “We want to show how diverse Latino culture is around the world. It’s also an opportunity to welcome people to the Vol State campus. We have hundreds of Latino students at the college each semester.”

The food cook-off contest features dishes from many different Latino nations. After judging at 11 a.m., the public is welcome to sample. There will also be a free Mexican lunch and drinks starting at noon. The family event, held outside on the campus grounds, includes live music, dance groups, art activities, and games for kids.

The Fall Fiesta at Vol State will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will happen, rain or shine, on the campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. The rain location is the Pickel Field House. The Fall Fiesta is free and open to everyone. Families are encouraged to bring a blanket and chairs and spend the day. The soccer contest age schedule can be found in Spanish and English on the web page: www.volstate.edu/espanol/Fiesta.php For more information in English or Spanish call 615-230-4846.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Remind Your Students: Career Fair September 20

Dozens of employers will be on site for the 2017 Fall Job Career Fair at Vol State. Please remind students of this event. It 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. Everyone is invited to attend. The Career Fair will be held at the Pickel Field House on Wednesday, September 20 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information call 615-230-3307 or visit www.volstate.edu/CareerFair

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Relay for Life on September 23

Relay for Life will be held on the Vol State Gallatin campus on Saturday, September 23 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will be some other activities on campus that day, as well. Relay is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. It is now held in 5,200 communities across the world. If you would like more information or you want to sign up to walk and collect donations, please visit the website.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Your Donations at Work in Texas

Vol State Senior Director of Plant Operations, Will Newman, recently led a relief trip to Texas to help people hit hard by flooding. Many of you helped with donations. He's back and has this account of how it went.

Now that it's over I can look back and see how it all happened. What started with a simple Facebook post on Aug 29th quickly snowballed into a full blown relief effort for the flood victims of east Texas.  Within hours of the post, support for the mission was established and the true American spirit was shown.  This lead to a budget, logistical planning, seeking assistance for operations, and the goal to load up boats and pack as much food, water, and supplies on 2 trailers. 

Within 48 hours the "Wet Donkey Team" was up to 7 volunteers which included my poor wife. Word spread quickly about the mission and the funding and support grew. The Vol State community donated monetarily and by filling 2 pallets with supplies.

Food for thought.. as a good example of how amazing Americans can be, in less 72 hours task force #wetDonkey secured over $5400 in donations as well as over $4000 in food, water, hygiene, and baby supplies. Our team made multiple convoys in and out of flood damaged cities and drove over 34 hours in 3 days.

$.79 of every dollar donated went to providing food and water or some sort of comfort item to a flood victim. Any money not spend on donation or recovery supplies was spent on fuel and transportation costs.

I want to thank absolutely everyone that donated money, food, and said a prayer for the mission from the bottom of my heart.

I'm proud of my team. #wetdonkey

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Meet the New President's Ambassadors

Vol State has a new group of President’s Ambassadors for 2017-2018. You may have seen them recently at Convocation. The Ambassadors represent the College at events, conduct campus tours and help with public relations. Students selected for the President’s Ambassadors scholarship program go through a rigorous vetting and interview process.  Successful candidates are selected from over two thousand eligible students.  To be eligible for the program, students must have a cumulative 3.0 grade point average and have completed at least 12 college-level credit hours at Vol State.  The scholarship covers full tuition and fees at the in-state rate, as well as a $300 per semester book stipend.  Students selected serve a one-year term.

The 2017-2018 Vol State President’s Ambassadors from left to right. Back row: Joshua Thompson of Greenbrier; Dylan Brewer of Lyles; Daniel Hannett of Old Hickory; Jason Smith of Cookeville; Alisea Turc of Gallatin; and Lisa Green of Gainesboro. Front row: Nicole Boone of Celina; Leighanne Simmons of Portland; Jacie Boyd of Sparta; Adriana Sanchez-Xalate of Murfreesboro; Kendra Marin of Cottontown; and Sarahi Villasenor of Hendersonville.

Dr. Faulkner: How to Learn by Elon Musk

You likely have heard of Elon Musk.  He co-founded PayPal and is the founder of the Tesla electric cars and SpaceX.  He is also a proponent of the mission to Mars and a project to connect America via a system of underground tubes containing hyper-speed vehicles.

So this guy is no slouch.  He is an entrepreneur extraordinaire and you would think he is very intelligent.  As reported on the Inc. website, in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), a fan asked, “I know you’ve read a lot of books and you hire a lot of smart people and soak up what they know, but you have to acknowledge you seem to have found a way to pack more knowledge into your head than nearly anyone else alive.  

How are you so good at it?”

Musk’s response was very interesting.  He give two pieces of critical advice.

      “I think most people can learn a lot more than they think the can.  They sell themselves short without trying.”

      “One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree – make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

As we begin a new academic year and a new semester at Vol State these are good lessons for us to remember as we teach students (We are all educators.) and as we seek to continue our own education (We are all learners.)

First we need to challenge our students and ourselves to stretch beyond what we think we are capable of attaining.  As a faculty member and department chair I’ve heard the same things you have.  “I’m just not good at math.”  I’m just not good at science.”  I have a learning block when it comes to languages.”  “That’s just the way I am.”  Saying these things is making an excuse for not trying.

Second we need to practice good andragogy by structuring our lessons to be sure we cover the fundamentals before diving into the details.  There is much research that show that learning occurs when we connect something new to something we already know.  If there are no branches then there is no place to hang the leaves.  We must construct our lessons so that there is a sound framework while at the same time understanding that student will have their own construct based on their own experiences and prior learning.

Who can know if the next Elon Musk is attending Vol State right now?

Vol State Art Gallery - Richard Painter Exhibit in September

Vol State has a beautiful new art gallery on the first floor of the SRB Building. It's open to everyone. It can be a nice way to spend a few minutes over lunch. There will be displays by regional artists throughout the school year and a student show in the spring. The work of internationally known artist Richard Painter will be on display through September 28. Painter creates large scale images and three-dimensional objects by a unique process of using fire resistant coating and blow torches to char wood.

“My work since 1995 has utilized burning,” Painter says on his website. “Either rapidly or slowly, everything burns- the stars, planets, rocks, earth, plants and animals, molecules and atoms, quarks and maybe tachyons--everything that springs into tangible existence starts being consumed by the oxidation of time. Some say that I'm really an arsonist at heart and have simply found a polite and productive way to deal with that tendency.”

Painter is an alumnus of Vol State.  He went on to build a career exhibiting across the nation and internationally. The Richard Painter exhibit is free and open to the public. The Vol State Art Gallery is located on the first floor of the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black (SRB) Humanities Building on the Gallatin campus at 1480 Nashville Pike. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information call 615-230-3202.

Pictured: Winter Note #6. Charred wood, pastel and acrylic, 25" x 49" by Richard Painter.