Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A Look at On-Campus Classes this Fall

Vol State faculty are getting ready for the fall semester with COVID-19 precautions. While most Vol State classes will have an online format this fall, some of the hands-on courses will still meet, but with new social distancing requirements. Health Sciences classes at the college are already meeting this way. This is a Radiologic Technology class. The students are learning CPR skills. The full class has been split up into three smaller groups, each meeting at a different time. That allows for social distancing in the classroom and room cleaning between groups. Masks are required at all times on campus, for everyone, including the faculty teaching the classes. The models that the Health Sciences classes are developing this summer will be used for all Vol State on-campus class meetings when the fall semester starts.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Vol State in the News

The reopening of campuses has been the big news push recently. Dr. Faulkner did a live phone interview on the midday show for WRKN News2 on Tuesday. The Hendersonville Standard had this story. And the Portland Sun ran our news release.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Logistics and COVID-19

We know that medical supplies are essential in the fight against COVID-19. But how do they get to the hospitals and clinics? That is a story of Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Tommy Tress is a Logistics student at Vol State, but he is also part of that strategic network keeping the nurses and doctors supplied. He is the Receiving and Distribution Supervisor at Sumner Regional Medical Center.
“I’ve had to track items a lot closer than previously,” Tress said. “I need daily counts of what we have on hand. I watch orders closely to see where they stand. And we have to conserve.”

Tress is like many students at Vol State- a working professional taking classes to earn a degree that will help them advance in their career. A big lesson in the COVID-19 battle has been looking for warning signs.
“Our administrators had been watching this since November and December. They were hearing the news coming out of China and there was also another issue with a recall that put strains on us to source products. The supply shortages started in February. We did have supplies set aside for disaster, but that is only designed for a short period of time, like for a tornado or flood. My boss and I would look through the situation each day to figure out how to respond.”

The health supplies run the gamut from protective gear for health workers to the basic supplies that patients in intensive care need every day. Sumner County seemed to be spared the worst of the pandemic at first, and then there was a huge outbreak at a nursing home in Gallatin. “At first it seemed like it was going to be a strain, but we didn’t need all of the supplies we thought we would. But we had to quickly turn-around and get nursing home supplies that we don’t normally use in that number.”

Now hospitals are preparing for what could be a second or even third wave of COVID-19 cases. That as supplies must be moved from region to region as outbreaks occur. It’s a complicated process that highlights the importance of Supply Chain Management. And it’s not only medical equipment. The entire food supply chain had to change when restaurants and schools closed and grocery stores were inundated with customers.

"The one common thing I was seeing, one of the main issues for transporting supplies was truckers,” Tress said. “They have been predicting a shortage of truckers for years.”

Just another piece in the puzzle of Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

“A jigsaw puzzle is pretty apt. Everything fits together to get the job done. You can’t treat patients without supplies.”

For more information about Logistics and Supply Chain Management training at Vol State visit:

Monday, June 22, 2020

Vol State in the News

The Tennessean reports that Vol State has a part in the Project Woolhawk proposal. It's a multi-million dollar data center proposed for Gallatin. Some news media reports have linked it to Facebook, although officials are still not disclosing the actual company. James Fenton with the Gallatin Economic Development Agency said that governmental leaders are working with Vol State on a training partnership to help supply potential workers for the data center if it is built.
Vol State Springfield is now offering degree programs. This is a story in the Robertson County Connection.

Mike McDonald, longtime Vol State adjunct faculty member and former Communications chair, is retiring after 50 years in education. The Portland Sun has this story.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

George Pimentel is the New President of JSCC

Vol State vice president for Academic Affairs, George Pimentel, has been named the new president of Jackson State Community College. This is from the TBR news release announcing his appointment: "I never imagined that I would become a college president when I began my career over 25 years ago, and I am honored and grateful to the Chancellor and the Board for trusting me with this opportunity," Pimentel said. "I'm looking forward to working with Jackson State faculty and staff as we continue to help our students overcome barriers to education and unlock their potential."

"This is an unprecedented time; students now more than ever need the opportunities that community college can provide through workforce development, collaborative partnerships and educational opportunities. Together, I believe we can make a real difference in people's lives, and in their communities, and I am excited to engage with community and business leaders as we work together to make that happen.

"I also want to thank Dr. Jerry Faulkner and the Vol State faculty and staff for their support, and for their unwavering commitment to student success. Vol State was my home for twenty years and it will always hold a special place in my heart," Pimentel said.

George began his career at Vol State in 2001 as an instructor. He continued as a History professor until an appointment as interim dean of Social Science and Education from August 2013-December 2013. He was appointed to the Vice President position in January of 2014.

Vol State in the News

The virtual graduation continues to receive coverage in area media outlets. This is the story in the Robertson County Connection and this story was run in the Portland Sun this week.

We're launching two new programs this fall: Medical Assisting and new Secondary Education degree programs. The Tennessean has this story.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Vol State Springfield Receives State Approval to Offer Degree Programs

Volunteer State Community College's Springfield campus has received approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents to offer complete college degree programs in Robertson County starting this fall semester. The college has offered classes at the Springfield campus since 2011. Thus far, students have had to combine the courses offered in Springfield with other courses held online or on the Vol State Gallatin campus in order to obtain a degree. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission approved a request to designate the Springfield campus as a “Center.” That means degrees can be awarded there and all classes needed for certain degree programs can be held on the campus.

“The offering of degrees in Springfield has been a high priority for both Vol State and the community. The work with city and county leaders in growing the campus has paid-off with this approval. We’re excited to expand our offerings in Robertson County. This is a solid base to build on for many years to come,” said Vol State president, Jerry Faulkner.

Beginning with fall classes in August, Vol State Springfield will provide all the coursework for the completion of an Associate of Science Degree in Teaching and the University Parallel Major. These majors are designed for transfer to a four-year institution. Associate of Applied Science Degrees, A.A.S, will also be offered for students planning to enter the job market immediately upon graduation from Vol State. Examples of A.A.S. programming are Computer Information Technology courses, including Cyber Defense, Programming, and Logic.

Anne-Marie McKee, who was named director of Vol State Springfield, has been associated with Vol State Community College for more than 20 years, and brings many years of higher education experience to the campus.

“I have been meeting with community and business leaders and everyone has made me feel so welcome,” said McKee. “I look forward to building those relationships and working directly with Vol State students in Springfield as we provide a high-quality education that can lead to so many careers and further educational opportunities.”

Students can use both the TN Promise program for graduating high school seniors and the TN Reconnect program for adults who do not already have a college degree, to receive free tuition at Vol State Springfield. The college has many Springfield and online classes available to university students who are taking a semester off. They are general education courses that can count for credit at many universities. New students should apply now at

The Vol State Springfield campus is located at 150 Laureate Avenue, just south of NorthCrest Medical Center, off Highway 431 and William Batson Parkway. The campus offices are closed for now, but staff are assisting people online and over the phone. For more information visit or call (615)433-7030.

Pictured: The Vol State Science Lab in Springfield provides the facilities for many classes ranging from biology to anatomy and physiology.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Passing the Torch at WVCP-FM

The Vol State radio station, WVCP-FM, celebrated a 40th anniversary in 2019. Faculty member Howard Espravnik has been a big part of that history, working as station general manager. Espravnik arrived at Vol State in 1986 and has led WVCP for more than three decades. His work included rebuilding the station after the studios took a direct hit from an F-3 tornado in 2006. Howard is retiring and recently he passed the WVCP torch to the new general manager, Dianna Monk, most recently of Cookeville. I say most recently because Dianna has traveled the country working at radio stations in California, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, and Georgia. She is the winner of six state Associated Press Awards; the Marconi Award for Best Air Personality in 2013; and a CMA nominee for Best Radio Personality in 2013. She has been music director and afternoon drive host for WGSQ-FM in Cookeville, while also teaching journalism as an adjunct at Tennessee Tech.  "I'm grateful to have been trained by Howard for this position," she said. "I know I have big shoes to fill, and I'm looking forward to working with Vol State's students."

Big shoes, indeed. Howard has worked with thousands of students and community volunteers over the years, making WVCP a staple in many households in Sumner County and beyond. Many of those students and volunteers came back for the 40th anniversary celebration. Most remarked on the impact Howard had in their interest and understanding of broadcasting, including George Hurd of Nashville, who was doing his regular Heavens Gospel Memories show during the event. “I love it. I came here for free college because I am over 65 and Mr. Howard signed me up. I’ve had a lot of good feedback from my listeners,” Hurd said. “People like the show and like the songs. We have good radio shows here. I’ve listened to the other DJs. It’s fun and educational to volunteer here.”

"I have a lot of fond memories and student success stories from WVCP," Howard said. "I'm hearing from a lot of them now. I'm really grateful I was able to help them."

Vol State will miss Mr. E, as his students affectionately called him.

Song with Vol State Ties in the Running for Official Nashville COVID-19 Title

Musicians and songwriters in Nashville memorialize many national events in song, and so it's fitting that the city should have something official to mark the ordeal of COVID-19. Vol State alumni were finalists in the Nashville COVID recovery song contest, sponsored by the Nashville Mayor's Office and judged by the Nashville Songwriters Association International. Conner Sweet was a student in our Entertainment Media Production program and Liz Hengber a former adjunct faculty member for songwriting. Their song was titled "Times Like These"  and performed by Lance Carpenter. Voting ended Friday and they just missed the top spot by a few hundred votes, coming in second overall. You can listen to it here. This is just another indication of the strength of our Entertainment Media Production and Music programs at Vol State. Congrats to all.

New Secondary Education Degrees Start this Fall

New Secondary Education degree programs start this fall at Vol State. These programs are designed for students who are interested in teaching grades 6-12 in English, Math and Social Studies. There is a teacher shortage and Middle School and High School teachers are in high demand in Tennessee. 
Secondary Education: English A.S.T. (TTP)
Secondary Education: Math A.S.T. (TTP)
Secondary Education: Social Studies  A.S.T. (TTP)
These are two-year degree programs with a focus on the coursework necessary to keep students on par with other students entering their junior year majoring in Secondary Education- English, Math or Social Studies  at a four year institution. Students majoring in Secondary Education typically get their Bachelor of Science degree and teach a specific discipline at the secondary level in public or private schools. Visit:

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

James Story Survives COVID-19

James Story, recently retired music professor from Vol State, is due to be released from a rehab hospital this week after 71 days in three hospitals. He is a survivor of COVID-19. Many at Vol State, and in Sumner County, have been following his condition. At one point it was rather grave. James has been doing physical therapy to be able to walk again. He is very excited about going home and thanks all of the health care workers who have worked to save his life. He promises to write about his experience and share it with us here in the Insider, when he is home and has more energy. In the meantime, it is wonderful to see his joyous posts to social media as he celebrates recovery.

New Medical Assisting Program

Classes in the new Medical Assisting program at Vol State will start in August. Students in the program will train to work in a doctor’s office or a healthcare clinic. That can eventually lead to a career in management and administration. Duties of the medical assistant include, but are not limited to: recording case histories, taking vital signs, giving injections, EKG work, help with lab testing, and assisting the doctor in the setup and performance of minor office surgeries. Vol State offers a two-year associate of applied science degree that prepares students for entry level work in healthcare.  Visit for details.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Vol State in the News

Vol State Campus Police Officer Mike Phillips lost his 13-year-old daughter, Bridgett, during the March 3rd tornadoes in Cookeville. This month he and his family were featured in the publication Three-Eight-Five Magazine for their cover story

The Hendersonville Standard and the Gallatin News carried stories about our virtual graduation.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Faculty Reviewing the Spring Semester

Now that the spring semester is at a close faculty members are trying to figure out what worked and what didn't work when it comes to online education. The IOTA end of course evaluation scores are one way to get feedback from students. Those results are now available to Vol State faculty members on eLearn. One instructor in Wisconsin saw the possibilities for study back before his campus shut down. He put together a before and after survey of his spring students that has some interesting insights. It is here in the publication Inside Higher Education.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A Virtual Graduation Ceremony

It was a different type of graduation ceremony on Saturday. However, in many ways it kept the spirit of the event alive. It was a celebration of accomplishments. Students took their own photos, many of which were also quite artistic in execution, and made their own videos. That, combined with quotes, made from an even more personal ceremony than usual. Kudos to the Records staff and the Graduation Committee for pulling it off and Media Services for putting much of it together. The company Stage Clip provided the backbone of the student participation part of the ceremony. If you haven't had a chance to view it yet, it's well worth it. The recording is at You can view some of the photos on the college Facebook page at

Saluting EMS Professionals

We salute our Emergency Medical Services professionals during National EMS Week, May 17-23. Many of our students and faculty also work in the field on the front lines of healthcare response. Thanks for what you do for the community. If you know someone who wants to make a difference with EMS training have them visit:

Monday, May 11, 2020

Students Use Zoom to Show Research Projects

Poster sessions are a visual way for science students to share what they have learned in a class project. Students put their research together in a poster format and then talk to attendees about their project. So, what do you do when no one is allowed on campus? Jerrod Shipman and Chrysa Malosh turned to Zoom, which has the ability to do breakout rooms. That allows participants to visit various small groups. I recently had the opportunity to do a virtual poster session for their ISCI 1030, Science, Society and Sustainability classes. It was remarkably comfortable and fun.

These were the research project topics:
Breakout Room 1: Elements of Green Architecture.  
Breakout Room 3: National Parks System
Breakout Room 4: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Cars for Transportation and Energy Usage.
Breakout Room 6: The Effects of Meat Production on the Environment
Breakout Room 7: Doomsday Clock
Breakout Room 8: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Breakout Room 9: Hydraulic Fracturing
Breakout Room 10: Eretmochelys Imbricata (Hawksbill Sea Turtle)

Lauren Nutter said of her research on the National Parks System: “I didn’t realize how much government oversight there was keeping things running smoothly.” She and partner Kayleen Cardle showed how the various parks impact CO2 levels in their geographic area.

One project took a look at how a grass roof can save energy and help the environment in other ways. Another explored the impact of meat production on the environment.

Anna Pease and William Seiling explored Hydraulic Fracturing. At one point in their explanation one of Anna’s kids came in the room. It’s just another one of those fun Zoom moments that have made life more interesting lately. Anna handled it with ease.

I could fill pages with the interesting things that I learned. Kudos to the instructors and students for great projects and an imaginative way of presenting them. It’s a testament to all that we are learning about online education these days.

Graduate Profile: Deidre Miller

Deidre Miller is a nurse. It’s a profession that has become even more challenging recently. Miller isn’t put off by challenges. She gets to the heart of things.
“It’s a rewarding job. You get to take care of people,” she said. “The best part is seeing patients come around and know that you were a part of their recovery.”
The twenty-nine year-old from Gainesboro is an LPN surgical nurse at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The major disruptions to the medical system recently led to a furlough for her. She just went back to work last week. “I don’t ever stop. When I was furloughed, I was going crazy, because I have to be doing something 24/7.”
But she is keeping busy doing something she would not have imagined. “I’ve been home schooling a 14 year-old and that’s been challenging. My aunt passed away in 2014 and I have her 23-year-old and 14-year-old kids living with me.”
The tragedy is a family rallying point. “My grandpa helped me set up a home we could live in. It’s very rewarding to be able to be a role model to them. I can never fill her shoes, but I can help them. I have had to grow up very fast. We’re neighbors with all my family. I have a really good support system.”
Caring for kids while going to school is difficult, but especially so for a 23-year-old without experience as a parent. “I’ve learned I needed them as much as they needed me and I didn’t realize it.”
And there was still the issue of school and her career. She took classes at Vol State in Livingston and Cookeville while caring for the children. Her goal was to become a Registered Nurse. “I’ve been an LPN for ten years. I was going to Vol State and trying to decide which nursing school to attend. So, when I found out that Vol State was starting an RN Nursing program, I immediately applied.”
Miller is not only in the first class of Vol State nursing students, she is the class president. And all of that during a crazy semester of change due to COVID-19. “I have taken every concern to our faculty and staff and they have responded. It’s been tough with the COVID-19 issues. Everything switched to online. Nursing is very difficult to understand and it’s hard if you can’t easily ask questions. They have amazing faculty and staff in that program. They have been there through it all. We’re going to be done in August and I am going to take the RN exam as soon as I can. I’m ready to get it under my belt.”
In the meantime, she is helping 14 year-old Kiara finish the school year. Twenty-three year old Haley is also a Vol State student, taking classes through Livingston and Cookeville.”
The medical world is likely to continue to be challenging for quite some time. Deidre says she just wants to be where the action is. “I would like to be a float nurse or work in the emergency department. You never know what you are going to get.”

Saluting Our Recent Retirees

Usually there is plenty of time to say farewell to retirees. We stop by their office to wish them well. We see them in the hallway and stop and chat. Not so this year. Just as our graduates have missed out on the in-person ceremony, so to did the recent Vol State retirees miss out on the opportunities to share the moment with colleagues. So, please consider taking a moment to do so virtually. We think this poem by Cindy Wyatt, a soon-to-be retiree, captures the moment. We have included a list of the recent retirees below.

Out of Office

The first brand new office I ever had,
in a striking three-story dedicated to light cures –
sweeping walls of glass, bright classrooms –
any sunny day felt like bliss.
Next to my office -- old friends,
each in spaces personalized –
one cluttered desk and floor,
one immaculately dignified,
one a dark caffeinated cave.
We had to clear it out in one day.
When we were done, eight Glad trash bags
slumped heavily down the hall,
full of handouts from twenty years back,
folders named fallacy quiz, Maslow’s Hierarchy,
notebooks from senseless meetings,
a decade of week-at-a-glance spirals, hoarded pads --
and what did we box up to bring home? Books,
cupfuls of pens and pencils (all pets),
one lovely lamp brought long ago
from my mother’s house, and all the bits
of whimsy – a tiny two-wheeler, clay turtles
in a bowl. I manned the chair, rode the keyboard,
put up pictures, watered flowers. Students came in
and smiled.
There I belonged. enjoyed well-being, Maslow’s recipe.
I’ll never leave. I’m already haunting it.
Someone will think it’s theirs, but chance
appearances will give them pause -- a yogurt spoon,
a water bottle, the scent of lemon. I’ll still be there.

-Cynthia Wyatt

Berry Robert Associate Professor
Cliburn Sherry Assistant Dir Financial Aid
Dayton Kay Manager Learning Commons
Espravnik Howard Associate Professor
Hall Mickey Professor
Harlan Carolyn Math Specialist
Weaver Joan Associate Professor
Wyatt Cynthia Associate Professor