Pellissippi State honors employees, retirees

Pellissippi State Community College hosted its annual Employee Awards ceremony recently, honoring faculty and staff for outstanding service and longevity and recognizing 2014-2015 retirees.


At this year’s ceremony, the Excellence in Teaching Award went to Jerry Sherrod, an associate professor in Business and Computer Technology. The award recognizes innovative teaching techniques and the positive impact they have had on students. Sherrod uses industry-based case study models in his Computer Science and Information Technology courses. The case studies apply collaborative learning, improve students’ oral and written communication skills, and help prepare students for issues in a global economy.


The Innovations Award—given in recognition of a project that demonstrates success of creative and original instructional and learning support activities—was presented to Edward Francisco and David Brown. This faculty team uses mathematical and computer science concepts including game theory, game trees and behavior trees, in discussing Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” in the classroom. Game theory is the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation, the classic application of which is exploring the various win-lose combinations in the game of chicken.

In the classroom, Francisco and Brown help students map the ever-expanding repercussions of each character’s actions within the world of “Hamlet.” Using game theory, game trees and behavior trees, students are meant to better understand characters and the play’s narrative, as well as to understand the alternate realities that might have occurred had any character’s actions been different. In addition, the team is developing software that will allow students to interactively and collaboratively examine any literary universe, including stories, plot lines and characters, and then use the collected structured information to create new characters and alternative narrative universes.


The Gene Joyce Visionary Award was given to Morvarid Bejnood, in recognition of her work on an external outreach project that had a positive impact on the community. Bejnood oversaw a Science Olympiad regional competition at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus in March. More than 270 middle and high school students competed in the competition.

The Excellence in Teaching, Innovations and Gene Joyce Visionary awards carry monetary recognition ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. Recipients of the awards also received a plaque and medallion.

Additional award recipients, each of whom received $100, a plaque and a medallion: Outstanding Adjunct Faculty, John Jackson; Outstanding Administrator, Carolyn Carson; Outstanding Contract Worker, Mark Palmer; Outstanding Full-Time Faculty, Kellie Toon; Outstanding Support Professional, Barbara Bailes; and Outstanding Technical/Service/Maintenance Worker, Alvin Brummett.

Pellissippi State also recognized employees at five-year increments of service, as well as acknowledging council presidents and retiring employees. The 2014-2015 faculty and staff retirees include Dennis Adams, Debi Bolton, Rick Bower, Jerry Bryan, Carolyn Carson, Karen Cornell, Joan Easterly, Pat Ferguson, Brenda Harmon, Lynn Hyman, Joy Ingram, Jean Jackson, Maggie Jenkins, Ellen Keene, Darell McBee, Linda Peterson, Ann Preston, Karen Queener and Mike Rose.

Funding for all awards is provided by the Pellissippi State Foundation. The Foundation works to provide student scholarships and emergency loans, as well as to improve facilities and secure new equipment.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State: TSBDC receives $5,000 from First Tennessee Foundation

The Knoxville office of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, which is administered by Pellissippi State Community College, has received a $5,000 grant through the Pellissippi State Foundation from the First Tennessee Foundation. The First Tennessee Foundation has given to the TSBDC’s First Tennessee Resource Center for more than 20 years.

“The funds from the First Tennessee Foundation over the years have funded a small library, upgraded the TSBDC training room, and maintained the First Tennessee Resource Center’s business software and support equipment,” said Larry Rossini, director of the Knoxville TSBDC. Upgrades to the training room include dual-screen technology for instructional programs like QuickBooks Reports and Google My Business.

“Without these generous funds from the First Tennessee Foundation, we could not provide the quality service we offer to the business community,” Rossini said.

TSBDC’s First Tennessee Resource Center opened in 1993 using funds from a $10,000 grant from the First Tennessee Foundation, along with matching federal funds. It is open to anyone, free of charge, and provides computer and Internet access, as well as printing and faxing capabilities and a library of business-related books. The Resource Center serves a broad spectrum of clients, including entrepreneurs, businesspeople and researchers.

Recent users of local TSBDC services include Bobby Nicholson, owner of Outliers Advantage In-Home Tutoring, who received help to apply for a government grant to tutor military veterans, and Umoja Abdul-Ahad, executive director of Project 2000 Inc.

“We appreciate the TSBDC staff and facility for this priceless service provided to the community,” said Abdul-Ahad.

“As a result of the generosity of the First Tennessee Foundation,” said Peggy Wilson, “the TSBDC has been able to continually upgrade the TSBDC Resource Center and classroom with the latest business-related hardware and software.” Wilson is vice president of College Advancement and executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation.

“None of this would have been possible without the generous support of the First Tennessee Foundation.”

The Pellissippi State Foundation works to provide student scholarships and emergency loans, as well as to improve college facilities and secure new equipment. For more information about the Foundation, visit or call (865) 694-6528.

For more about TSBDC, visit or call (865) 246-2663.

Pellissippi State: Community book sale to raise funds for student scholarships

Pellissippi State Community College hosts its annual Faculty Senate Book Sale from late March into early April, and the community is invited to take part.

The sale kicks off at the Blount County Campus and takes place at four of Pellissippi State’s campuses over the course of two weeks. Here are the locations, dates and times:

  • Blount County Campus, Keith McCord Lobby; 8 a.m.-6 p.m., March 23-24, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m., March 25
  • Division Street Campus, Room 208; 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., March 25-26
  • Hardin Valley Campus, Goins Building College Center; 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., March 30-April 1
  • Magnolia Avenue Campus, Lobby; 8 a.m.-4 p.m., April 7-8

The Faculty Senate Book Sale raises funds that go to the Pellissippi State Foundation for student scholarships. All type of books will be available, from fiction and nonfiction to craft books and cookbooks. The sale also will have collectible magazines like National Geographic. Other items likely to be offered: movies and CDs.

Sale donations have been made by Pellissippi State faculty, staff and students, as well as by community members.

The Blount County Campus is located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Friendsville. The Division Street Campus is at 3435 Division St., the Hardin Valley Campus at 10915 Hardin Valley Road and the Magnolia Avenue Campus at 1610 E. Magnolia Ave., all in Knoxville.

For more information about Pellissippi State and the book sale, visit or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State, Board of Regents recognize Clayton family for support

Row of 5 people, 2 holding awards
Pellissippi State Community College and Tennessee Board of Regents presented the Clayton Family Foundation and Clayton Homes with the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at a legislative breakfast Friday, Feb. 9. Pictured, from left, are TBR Chancellor John Morgan, Clayton Homes vice president of corporate services David Jordan, Jim Clayton of Clayton Family Foundation and Clayton Bank and Trust, TBR board member Danni Varlan and Pellissippi State president L. Anthony Wise Jr.

Pellissippi State Community College and the Tennessee Board of Regents recognized the Clayton Family Foundation and Clayton Homes for their support of higher education at a state legislative breakfast in Knoxville Friday, Feb. 6.

Danni Varlan, a TBR board member, presented the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy to James L. Clayton of the Clayton Family Foundation and Kevin Clayton of Clayton Homes. TBR is the governing body for Pellissippi State and all of the state’s other community colleges.

“Clayton Homes and the Clayton Family Foundation truly epitomize the spirit of the Regents Award,” Varlan said. “Their contributions to numerous institutions in East Tennessee have enriched the fabric of our community. The Clayton foundations together have awarded over $40 million to hundreds of charitable organizations, giving back to the generations to come.”

A $1 million donation to the Pellissippi State Foundation from the Clayton Family Foundation and Clayton Homes supported two major projects: the Performing Arts Center and the Blount County Campus. The gift to the Performing Arts Center in 2008 resulted in the 500-seat facility’s renaming to the Clayton Performing Arts Center. The donation to the Blount County Campus, which opened in 2010, went for the purchase of equipment and furniture.

“Support from the Clayton family has been so much more than bricks and mortar,” Varlan said. The Claytons’ philanthropy and generosity have benefited various programs, campaigns, and funds, including Music scholarships, The Arts at Pellissippi State, art and cultural program funds, the Student Emergency Loan fund, and the Greatest Need fund for students, among others.

To find out more about the Pellissippi State Foundation, including opportunities to give, visit or call (865) 694-6528.

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