Pellissippi State announces Common Book Convocation

A-Walk-in-the-Woods1Take a hike.

That’s the message of Pellissippi State Community College’s 2013-2014 Common Book, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson. It’s also the theme of this year’s Common Book Convocation, which takes place Sept. 23.

The Convocation presentation, “More Than Just a Walk in the Woods,” features speakers from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy: Leanna Joyner, Tip Ray, Ben Royer and Morgan Sommerville. The ATS is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving and maintaining the Appalachian Trail.

The event is 11:50 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at the Clayton Performing Arts Center on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. Convocation will be Web-streamed to site campuses, and the event is free and open to the community.

The Common Book Convocation is the jumping off point for a year of discussion and events tied to “A Walk in the Woods.” Pellissippi State’s Common Book is required reading for select courses. This year’s topics will be as wide-ranging as ecology, biological diversity, the effects of tourism, the importance of outdoor activity and the tradition of nature writing.

Bryson recounts his tale of hiking the Appalachian Trail. After years of living abroad, he hoped through the experience to reacquaint himself with America’s scenery, history and people. “A Walk in the Woods,” which is written in a satirical tone, encompasses the many emotions, logistical problems and incidents to be expected for a hiker on the journey.

The account also reflects on the history of the Appalachian Trail, National Park Service management, the history of the national parks and forests, the depredations of disease and insects on trees and plants, the need for environmental awareness and stewardship, and the ever-present threat of bears.

“Like Mr. Bryson, all of our students are on a journey of self-discovery,” said Carol Luther, an English professor and chair of the Common Book Committee. “As they go to college and become more educated persons, that experience will shape them and change them.

“We want each Common Book to be useful and inspiring to our students, no matter their area of study. ‘A Walk in the Woods’ is about friendship, nature and overcoming challenges along the trail. We hope that students, many of whom are technologically adept and comfortable online, will be inspired to get outdoors and recognize the value of our greenways, parks, and wilderness areas.”

“A Walk in the Woods,” first published in 1998, was a New York Times bestseller. Bryson was bestowed an honorary doctorate from King’s College London in 2012, at which time it was noted he was the United Kingdom’s highest-selling author of nonfiction. His other books include “Mother Tongue,” “Notes from a Small Island” and “A Short History of Nearly Everything.”

For more information about Common Book programs, contact Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State recognizes veterans during Civic Engagement Week

Pellissippi State Community College is placing special emphasis on veteran fellowship and veteran strength with a planned Civic Engagement Week Sept. 10-17.

“Civic Engagement Week is about promoting a culture of altruism among our students. This year, the focus of Civic Engagement Week will be on veterans and their families,” said Cat Carr, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program.

“With nearly 100,000 troops home from Iraq and another 30,000 expected home from Afghanistan in the next year, it is crucial that communities understand the reintegration obstacles that veterans and military families face.”

On Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, the week opens with “The Things We Carry: What War Does,” featuring guest speaker L. Caesar Stair III, a Vietnam veteran. The presentation is free and open to the public. It takes place in the Goins Building College Center 12:30-1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10.

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, Pellissippi State faculty, staff and students pause for a moment of silence beginning at 9:03 a.m., as they remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Following the activity, guest speaker Clyde Luttrell, also a Vietnam veteran, delivers a brief address in the Courtyard.

Residents of the Ben Atchley State Veterans’ Home are on campus 10-11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13, in the Courtyard for a meet-and-greet. Therapy dogs from HABIT (Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee) also will be on hand.

Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning students join others participating in Knoxville Stand Down for Homeless Veterans on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the National Guard Armory, 3300 Sutherland Ave. The special community service event, part of a nationwide support movement, provides area homeless veterans with clothing and other services.

Pellissippi State replays a recent “Dialogue” WUOT radio talk show broadcast that features Rachael Cragle, the college’s director of Advising, among others, in a segment dedicated to supporting veterans in East Tennessee. The replay is at 12:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Cafeteria Annex, Monday, Sept. 16.

Civic Engagement Week on the Hardin Valley Campus wraps up Tuesday, Sept. 17, with a special Constitution Day observance featuring Ron Bridges. Bridges, an associate professor in Natural and Behavioral Sciences at Pellissippi State, talks of veterans’ sacrifices as they uphold the U.S. Constitution. The presentation is 12:30-1:15 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

The Blount County Campus observes the National Day of Service and Remembrance at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, by the campus’ flagpoles. The event recognizes veterans and their service and includes an introduction to Service-Learning.

The Division Street Campus kicks off the week on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 10-11 a.m. in the Student Lounge, by providing students with the opportunity to learn more about volunteerism and electoral participation.

The campus marks the National Day of Service and Remembrance at 8-9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, in the Student Lounge. Students can attend “Protecting Our Financial Future” at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. in Room 118. “Celebrate Our Veterans” is 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, and Constitution Day is observed all day Tuesday, Sept. 17. Both events are in the Student Lounge.

The Magnolia Avenue Campus hosts its third annual Call to Service Volunteer Resource Fair 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11. The event introduces students and faculty to 35 agencies with community service opportunities and volunteer programs. The campus also hosts SunTrust Bank for a Finances 101 workshop Tuesday, Sept. 10. Three sessions are available: 9:10 a.m., 12:25 p.m. and 2 p.m. Topics include debt-free living, money management, retirement, investments and emergency preparedness, among others.

Students at the Strawberry Plains Campus have an opportunity to serve as part of a cleanup crew for the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery the week before Veterans Day (Nov. 11). They can sign up for the service project during Civic Engagement Week as well as throughout fall semester.

For more information about Civic Engagement Week events, contact Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program at (865) 694-6492 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State recognizes Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Male in suit at table with paper on desk and pen in hand. 3 females are standing behind him.
Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr. signs a proclamation Thursday, Aug. 29, naming September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month on all Pellissippi State campuses. Joining him, from left, are College counselors Lisa Orient, Elizabeth Firestone and Kathleen Douthat.

Pellissippi State Community College has named September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month at all of its five campuses. President L. Anthony Wise Jr. signed the official proclamation on Thursday.

According to the Jed Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting emotional health and preventing suicide among college students, one in 10 college students has contemplated suicide at some point.

Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds and is the second leading cause among college-age students. Approximately 1,100 college students die by suicide each year.

“We want Pellissippi State students to be successful and hopeful,” said Wise. “Every student should know that our faculty and staff are here to help support them.”

As part of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Pellissippi State counselors will offer programming designed to teach students how to recognize behaviors associated with vulnerability, depression and suicide contemplation.

In addition, counselors will visit classrooms by faculty request to facilitate question-persuade-refer training. QPR is designed to prevent suicide by providing support to the person in need.

“Mental illnesses are real, diagnosable and treatable,” said Elizabeth Firestone, director of Counseling at Pellissippi State. “More important, treatment of mental illnesses works—there is hope for recovery. Students who are feeling stressed, depressed or having suicidal thoughts can contact Counseling and find help.”

Pellissippi State joins the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network in its recognition of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The network is a collaboration of Tennesseans and organizations working to eliminate the stigma of suicide, educate the community about the warning signs and ultimately reduce the rate of suicide in the state.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s Counseling Office, call (865) 694-6547 or visit

National aquarist addresses ocean pollutants at Pellissippi State lecture

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Beyond its size—by some estimates twice that of the continental U.S.—there’s nothing “great” about this swirling flotsam of plastics, chemical sludge and other debris.

Katie Williams, an aquarist at the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., addresses the ocean-borne garbage dump and related pollutants by invitation of the Sustainable Campus Initiative at Pellissippi State Community College in September. The topic is plastics and their role in the health and future of oceans and other major waterways.

Williams’ lecture, “Plastics and Waste Reduction: An Oceans and Wildlife Perspective,” is 10:45-11:45 a.m., Friday, Sept. 27, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus. The event is free and the public is invited.

“Education is important to build awareness of what it will take to ensure the continuation of these species in our oceans that are threatened by pollution,” said Karen Lively, the college’s sustainable campus coordinator. “Even in landlocked areas, we affect that pollution.”

“The same waste reduction efforts used globally can be related to protecting the wildlife in and around local watersheds like the Tennessee River,” said Judy Sichler, an anthropology instructor at Pellissippi State.

During her lecture, Williams will show the visual reminders of plastic pollution in our oceans and major waterways, including images of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, beach destruction and the effects of microplastic.

Williams graduated with a degree in marine biology from the University of Tennessee and has worked for Sea World, the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the National Aquarium in Washington.

The lecture is tied in to the Sustainable Campus Initiative’s theme for September, plastics and waste reduction. Pellissippi State also will host a viewing of “Tapped,” a documentary film examining the bottled water industry. The event takes place at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, in the Goins Building Auditorium.

The community is invited to enjoy the free film and popcorn.

For additional information about the Sustainable Campus Initiative’s September events, call Lively at (865) 539-7364 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

‘The German Way of War’ kicks off 2013-2014 Faculty Lecture Series

Portrait of male with glasses in light blue buttoned shirt and tiePellissippi State Community College’s first presentation of the 2013-2014 Faculty Lecture Series introduces the community to “The German Way of War.” The free event takes place in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus at 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 12.

Jake Hamric, who teaches history for the college, delivers the lecture, focusing on the influences that he believes have made the German military’s way of war distinctive. The community is invited to attend.

“I’m looking forward to sharing something I have knowledge and passion about,” Hamric said.

“The lecture will argue that the German military has had a distinct way of war that is principally due to Germany’s history, culture and even geography. The lecture also will raise a second, broader issue, that all nations, states and kingdoms fight their own unique ways of war based on these same factors.”

Hamric earned a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University, writing his thesis on Germany’s military campaign in Romania in World War I. He has been at Pellissippi State since 2006 and has taught full time since fall 2010. He teaches each of the World, Western and American history surveys the college offers, as well as for the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies study-abroad program.

“The German Way of War” is one of the events that make up “The Arts at Pellissippi State.” The series brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

For additional information about the lecture series or other “Arts at Pellissippi State” events, call (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State faculty member featured in New York Times March on Washington retrospective

Robert Boyd, an associate professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College, was featured last week in a New York Times article commemorating the March on Washington in 1963.

The 50th anniversary of the event, which included the now-famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr., is today, Aug. 28.

According to “Pass the Bill,” Boyd’s written account of the march, he was called upon as a New York City fireman to guard the Lincoln Memorial area.

“My job was to make sure Martin was safe,” he wrote in the Times, “so I was paying attention to my job. Consequently what I remember from the speech was more about the crowd than him.…

“I remember the impact it had on people, the audience. When he started to speak, there was silence. Thousands and thousands of people, and not a word. And then when he finished, it was an uproar, a crescendo, and this joyous noise. Then I realized, this is something.”

Before the pivotal event, Boyd wrote, “I had no idea about the march, or anything about the civil rights movement at all…. And I tell you, it changed me.… It ignited something in me that has lasted forever. Will always last.”

The 80-year-old Boyd recounts his involvement in starting the “Pass the bill!” call for civil rights legislation through the Washington Mall that day, as well as his later activism in the community and term as president of the Flushing (N.Y.) NAACP.

“Robert was selected by The New York Times to serve as a witness to history,” wrote L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president, in an emailed notice of the Times piece to faculty and staff.

“His story is a timely reminder of how events change lives and how people change communities. I am grateful to Bob for his service to our country and this College.”

To see the complete New York Times article, link here.

Pellissippi State presents summer 2013 dean’s list

Pellissippi State Community College has named 42 top students to the summer semester 2013 dean’s list. Students are eligible for the dean’s list upon completion of 12 college-level hours per semester of college coursework with a 3.5-4.00 GPA. Pellissippi State honorees include the following:

Courtney Barnes
Eric Belew
Allison Brown
William Burkhart
Dylan Chun
Justin Coleman
Matthew Davis
Anna Dilworth
Sean Dornbush
Amanda Fancher
Emily Finley
Crystal Gentry
Elissa Goodson
Mallory Gruenenfelder
Brent Hattley
Jeffrey Hickman
Linda Hinkle
Devon Hoskins
Whitney Jones
Amber Julian
Kevin Kidder
Megan Kidder
Noya Livne
Nicholas McCloskey
Holly Metcalf
Adam Myers
Gladys Nance
Julie Pham
Daryl Ray
Holly Reagan
Keven Reed
Tiffany Rullan
Wendy Sherrod
Debbie Silcox
Jay Smithson
Silvia Sweitzer
Morgan Terry
David Torres
Henry Weber
Sarah Weinsheimer
Holly Whitaker

Service-Learning partnerships: Pellissippi State to break ground for Pond Gap community garden

Pellissippi State Community College’s Service-Learning program is planting the seeds for the spread of college-sponsored community gardens on the grounds of Knox County Schools.

Pellissippi State’s first garden project, part of a larger effort in Knox County to help students and communities succeed, gets under way this fall at Pond Gap Elementary School. Pond Gap is located near the college’s Division Street Campus, off Sutherland Avenue.

“A community garden project like this is all about the natural neighborhood revitalization that can come by inviting schoolchildren, their families and community college students to work together on quality service projects,” said Annie Gray. Gray is coordinator of Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program and an English professor.

Pond Gap Elementary is Knox County Schools’ pilot project for the Community Schools Initiative. The initiative is one component of a national movement designed to strengthen schools, families, neighborhoods and communities.

Community Schools participants integrate traditional academics with community engagement to help students learn, support students’ families and promote healthy living. One aspect of the effort is to make schools, including Pond Gap,­ into community hubs by opening them for extended hours for outside programs and events.

“The Pond Gap neighborhood is very diverse. Children of 35 different nationalities attend Pond Gap, and a large percentage of their families live at or below the poverty level,” said Gray.

“It’s a challenging area, but also an ideal one for piloting a project that unites neighborhood families, the elementary school, and the college; that cuts across cultural differences to encourage relationships and teach new skills; and that inspires higher education.”

The Pond Gap pilot is overseen by the University of Tennessee. Gray is working closely with Bob Kronick, UT’s director of the University-Assisted Community School program, and Mark Benson, UACS program coordinator, on the community garden effort.

The Service-Learning project, titled “You Are What You Eat: The Edible Schoolyard Project,” is taking advantage of an AmeriCorps VISTA grant to jump-start the venture, plan and build the garden, and staff it with a full-time AmeriCorps volunteer for its inaugural year. Initial plans are to use existing space to complete a small garden by fall, with a larger, more comprehensive spring garden planned. The project’s AmeriCorps volunteer is Matt Callo.

“Pellissippi State students will be part of the volunteer process,” said Gray. “They’ll work in the garden or with Pond Gap schoolchildren, and might take part in workshops offered to the community on topics like balcony gardening or gardening on a budget.

“There are all sorts of curricular tie-ins for Pond Gap students, who can, at minimum, receive valuable math and science lessons from participating in the life of the garden.”

According to Gray, Pellissippi State plans to use the Pond Gap experience as a model for starting gardens at other community schools and eventually to offer an urban gardening certification program to college students. The initial year of the Pellissippi State project at Pond Gap will be used not only to build the garden but also to establish processes, locate sustainable revenue sources and network with other community garden efforts. Once those processes are in place, Pellissippi State will approach another community school for a similar partnership.

Now in its third year, Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program allows students and faculty to integrate meaningful community service and reflection with more traditional learning experiences, teaching civic responsibility and strengthening communities. The garden project also supports the community service placement of 1,000 tnAchieves scholars at Pellissippi State, all of whom must complete eight hours of volunteering in the community each semester.

For more information about the community garden at Pond Gap Elementary School, call Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400 or email

Pellissippi State to host Goldenstein art exhibit beginning Aug. 28

Abstract art
Wear Valley, Mixed Media on Paper

Pellissippi State Community College hosts the paintings and mixed media pieces of local artist and educator Marcia Goldenstein in “Everything In Between” Aug. 28-Sept. 19 on the Hardin Valley Campus.

“We are very pleased to have Marcia coming to Pellissippi State,” said Jennifer Brickey, assistant professor of studio art. “We try to get local or regional artists for exhibits in the Bagwell Gallery, as well as artists whose work we can use to educate our students, who can visit the exhibit and discuss the artwork.

Black Oak, Mixed Media on Paper
Black Oak, Mixed Media on Paper

Goldenstein, a professor at the University of Tennessee School of Art, formerly taught Brickey and instructs many of the Pellissippi State students who continue their art education at UT.

“We have great respect for her,” said Brickey. “I’m very much looking forward to taking my painting students to the exhibit so they can look at her work and learn from it.”

“Everything In Between” opens Wednesday, Aug. 28, in the gallery of the Bagwell Center for Media and Art and closes with a reception that takes place 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19. Normal gallery hours are 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The Goldenstein show features mixed media and oil paintings that put a new twist on familiar images.

“Whether looking up at the sky, at a distant panorama, a map or an artifact, my interest is in bringing a moment, a place or a familiar image to new life,” Goldenstein said.

The exhibit will include a series of more traditional landscapes, dominated by the sky and painted with oil on linen, as well as a new series of mixed media paintings, featuring acrylic and colored pencils, on paper maps. The maps are mirror-imaged to create an invented, alternate reality. The landscapes and maps allow the viewer to experience the environment through different but familiar filters.

“All of the pieces have to do with identity and knowing where you are but perhaps not understanding exactly where you are,” the artist said.

Goldenstein earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Nebraska in 1973. She has been at UT since 1976. A few of her more recent exhibits include showings in “Art in the Airport” at McGhee Tyson Airport in 2012 and 2013 and in “Artscapes” at the Knoxville Museum of Art in 2011 and 2010.

She has been a visiting artist in venues around the nation, as well as in the United Kingdom, Slovakia and China. Goldenstein’s work is in public collections at New York Life Insurance, KMA, UT and General Motors Corp., among many others.

The closing reception Sept. 19 will be a good opportunity for visitors and students to ask questions of Goldenstein.

“Everything In Between” is one of the events that make up Pellissippi State’s arts series, “The Arts at Pellissippi State.” The series brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

For additional information about the exhibit or “The Arts at Pellissippi State,” call (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State’s Behavioral Intervention Team certifies on two assessment tools

Portrait of female with short gray hair wearing a blue collared shirt.
Mary Bledsoe

Pellissippi State Community College has a new set of tools for evaluating campus threats, thanks to the college’s Behavioral Intervention Team.

Mary Bledsoe, Pellissippi State’s dean of students and BIT chair, and Holly Burkett, campus dean for the Blount County Campus, were certified to use two assessment tools at the recent National Behavioral Intervention Team Association conference. Bledsoe leads the five-member core group that makes up Pellissippi State’s BIT, while Burkett is a consulting member to the team.

The NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool, one of the tools added to BIT’s resources, is a standard aid that a number of colleges and universities are using, says Bledsoe. Known as SIVRA-35, the other tool is the Structured Interview for Violence Risk Assessment. SIVRA-35 (a 35-item inventory) is used, if needed, as a secondary step in conducting a more thorough and research-based violence risk assessment.

Portrait of female with short blond hair and a purple blouse.
Holly Burkett

“The NaBITA Threat Assessment rubric gives a wide focus for generalized risk, mental and behavioral health, and nine levels of aggression,” said Bledsoe, “while the SIVRA-35 enables BIT to fine tune the assessment of behavioral risk and/or threat.”

BIT represents a cross-section of college areas. Resources like the Threat Assessment Tool and the Structured Interview assist the team at Pellissippi State in the complicated and ever-evolving task of ensuring safety in the academic environment.

To learn more about BIT and its role at the college, visit

Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN