Pellissippi State pledges to expand entrepreneurship and economic growth

Group of males holding a signed entrepreneurship document
(L-R) Terrance Carter, Knoxville Area Urban League; Jim Biggs, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center; Anthony Wise, Pellissippi State; Cliff Claudill, Greater Score of Knoxville; Bruce Hayes, TSBDC; and Doug Minter, Knoxville Chamber, celebrate signing the entrepreneurship pledge.


Pellissippi State Community College has joined community colleges across the country this week in signing a formal pledge to increase its focus on entrepreneurship and its economic impact on the community.

The National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship spearheaded the nationwide pledge. NACCE is an organization of educators, entrepreneurs and business development professionals focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges.

Among other things, Pellissippi State pledges to create internal and external teams dedicated to entrepreneurship and to increase entrepreneurs’ engagement with the college.

Pellissippi State supports entrepreneurship, in part, through the efforts of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, an affiliation of the college. They collaborate to offer training opportunities and workforce development in Blount, Claiborne, Cocke, Jefferson, Knox, Sevier and Union counties.

“Our college has always been entrepreneurial in spirit, in our support for the growth of the local economy and workforce, and also in our work with students,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., president of Pellissippi State. “Our partnership with NACCE reaffirms that commitment to develop the people, the businesses and the resources of our region.”

In 2017, Pellissippi State’s TSBDC served 364 clients, helped 33 new businesses start up, created 111 new jobs and retained 233 jobs. The firms that TSBDC aided went on to create more than $47.8 million in new capital investment into the local economy.

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

Joy Bishop receives Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy

Pellissippi State Foundation Board Member Receiving TBR's Chancellor's Award
(L-R) Ginger Hausser, TBR associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, Joy Bishop, Regent Danni Varlan, PSCC President L. Anthony Wise


The Tennessee Board of Regents has presented the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy to Maryville’s Joy Bishop in recognition of her support of Pellissippi State Community College.

The award is part of TBR’s Excellence in Philanthropy Awards recognition program that began in 2003 to recognize individuals, companies and organizations who donate their resources, finances and personal time to TBR institutions. TBR is the governing body for Tennessee’s 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.

“I am honored to receive this award. I believe in the community college concept, and I particularly support Pellissippi State and its Blount County Campus. Dr. Wise, the faculty and the staff at Pellissippi State have added a great deal to all five of their campuses. I’m just so proud to be a member of the Pellissippi State Foundation Board of Trustees,” Bishop said.

Bishop has been a long-time supporter of Pellissippi State. She provided leadership in two of Pellissippi State’s major gift campaigns, which have resulted in the establishment and the expansion of the college’s Blount County Campus.

“Joy’s financial commitment to the college is just the tip of the iceberg in measuring her impact. She is a natural-born fundraiser who is not shy about asking others to support our institution,” said L. Anthony Wise, president of Pellissippi State.”

Most notably, she also was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Leg-Up Child Care Assistance Program, a program that provides free child care to a number of qualified Pellissippi State students who are single parents. The program is a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Pellissippi State and state-licensed child care centers in East Tennessee.

Program participants must be enrolled in a minimum of six credit-hours, have a 2.0 or better grade-point-average and be working toward a certificate or associate degree program. Leg-Up pays the full cost of weekly child care, after-school costs, registration fees and various activity charges for children between six-weeks-old and age 13.

The financial burden on single parent-students to provide child care while they work, attend school, and take care of their children, is a major factor in determining whether a student will successfully complete college. The annual cost of providing one child with year-round care can exceed $10,000 a year, and many of Pellissippi State’s student-parents have more than one child. Students participating in Leg-Up have shown improved class attendance, better grades and a lower dropout rate.

Bishop says the inspiration for the Leg-Up Program began on a 12-hour plane flight to Southeast Asia with friend Carolyn Forster. The women were on a trip to Vietnam and had a lot of time to think and talk about ways to help the students at Pellissippi State.

“We realized that the cost of child care was a real problem, especially for single parents,” said Bishop. “So we said, ‘We can do something about that,’ and we came up with a plan. We would get the business community to support us, and we would select only highly-motivated students and provide them with mentors in addition to the child care.”

Bishop formed a committee, which included Holly Burkett, the dean of Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus, did some research on the cost of day care, and wrote out a plan to take to the state.

“Dr. Wise and I went to see the DHS commissioner. [Former] State Senator Doug Overbey [Maryville] met us at the commissioner’s office. Commissioner Hatter was aware of how much child care was a barrier to some students. She was impressed someone was working to do something to keep single parents in school and approved the plan,” Bishop said.

Bishop is quick to share the credit for the success of Leg-Up with her fellow committee members: Marty Black, Jim Proffitt, Carolyn Forster, Ellie Morrow, Gaynelle Lawson, Steve West, Mark Johnson, Greg McLean, Tammi Ford, Tom Bogart, Pam Wolf and Holly Burkett.

In September 2016, Pellissippi State hired Le’John Ellis to manage the program, which has grown steadily and, now, provides quality child care free of charge for 39 student-parents with 60 children in Knox and Blount counties.

“I think Le’John fell from heaven,” Bishop said. “Everyone needs someone to give them a leg up once in their lives. I’m so proud of Leg-Up. It’s perfect, just perfect.”

Bishop, a native of Texas, graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Federal Executive Institute. She spent 30 years in the U.S. Air Force as a civilian and was the first woman to receive an appointment to the Senior Executive Service. Bishop retired in 1990 as one of the highest ranking civilians in the Air Force and put her roots down in Blount County. She then started her own consulting firm, the Emerald Group, which helped underdeveloped countries. Joy serves her community as a member of Maryville Church of Christ, Blount Partnership, Maryville Kiwanis Club, Blount County Library, Maryville College Advisory Board, Clayton-Bradley Academy and Clayton Center for the Arts.

“Joy’s work in the community and with Pellissippi State is transformative. When it comes to volunteering, Joy brings plenty of passion and positivity to the table. Her creativity, motivation and vision inspires all that engage with her. It is an honor to nominate Joy Bishop for the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy,” Wise said.

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

‘Teaching Award’ winner Sichler to speak at Pellissippi State Commencement

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Judith Sichler
Judith Sichler

Pellissippi State Community College’s Excellence in Teaching Award winner, Judith Sichler, will speak at the college’s fall commencement ceremony Dec. 15 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Commencement begins at 7 p.m. Approximately 490 students will graduate this fall.

Sichler is the 2017 recipient of the college’s Excellence in Teaching Award, which recognizes innovative teaching techniques and the positive impact a faculty member has had on students. Sichler has integrated unique and interactive learning opportunities into her anthropology classes that aim to increase engagement and inspire students.

Sichler worked as an archaeologist before coming to teach at Pellissippi State in 2010. Today, she teaches cultural anthropology courses and has embedded Service-Learning components into them. She also teaches a cultural anthropology study-abroad course in South Africa.

“The best decision I ever made was to teach full-time,” Sichler said. “My favorite class to teach is cultural anthropology because I ask students to ponder human diversity. I really want them to talk to each other. I want them to debate perceptions and talk about how and why cultures are different, and what the basis for those differences are.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, call 865-539-7401 or email

Pellissippi State No. 4 in nation for study abroad

Coby Wester
Pellissippi State student Coby Wester in Street Art Alley, also called “Graffiti Alley” in Hackescher Markt in Berlin during a study abroad trip.

Pellissippi State Community College is ranked number four in the nation among community colleges for study abroad, according to the 2017 Open Doors Report.

This is the sixth year in a row that the college has appeared in the top five for the number of students who studied abroad. It is the only community college in the southeast to be recognized in the Open Doors Report.

Pellissippi State student Coby Wester studied photography and videography in Germany through a study abroad trip with the college and the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies. He created a portfolio of photos as well as a video of the trip, in which he interviewed residents of Munich and Bavaria about their lives.

“What I took away most from the trip were the connections I made with the people I traveled with — people who went to Pellissippi but I never knew. We’re all still connected,” Wester said. “It’s this unifying moment of being part of this new, shared unexplored territory in our lives.”

Wester related a story of visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp with a friend who is Jewish. “There’s a noticeable atmospheric change there. Being part of that with her, and being there for her, was a humbling experience.

“I think going on study abroad programs pushes people’s limits to explore who they can fully be. It’s amazing to be part of that with the people around you,” Wester said. “I love studying abroad; I’d love to go back.”

Pellissippi State sent 166 students to study abroad in summer 2016 to sites across Europe and Asia as well as South Africa, Cuba, Peru and Brazil.

According to the Open Doors Report, the college led the state in international student enrollment among community colleges, with 101 students in 2015-16. Only two other community colleges were recognized for international enrollment in Tennessee.

Study abroad programs at Pellissippi State are organized through the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies, which is housed at the college. TnCIS serves all community colleges in the Tennessee Board of Regents system, organizing study abroad opportunities as part of its mission of boosting international experience and culture in higher education across the state.

For more information about TnCIS, visit or call 865-539-7279. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400.

Castle Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, photographed by Coby Wester while studying abroad.



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