Category Archives: Faculty/Staff

Pellissippi State earns two state public relations association honors

protrait of female with glassesPellissippi State Community College came away with two awards at the Tennessee College Public Relations Association conference in Cookeville this summer.

Julia Wood, Pellissippi State’s director of Marketing and Communications, was named the Charles Holmes Award recipient, and the college received a silver Communications and Marketing Award for design of a campus sustainability poster.

The Charles Holmes Award is presented annually to a member of TCPRA who demonstrates steadfast service and earnest dedication to the organization. A founding member of TCPRA, Holmes is a former public relations director at the University of Memphis.

“It was a complete surprise,” Wood said of receiving the award. “It was also very special for me, because I used to work for Charles Holmes at the University of Memphis. Receiving an award named for him is a great honor.”

Wood has been a TCPRA member for 28 years and has served as president and vice president of the organization. Her two-year term as president ended in June.

sustainability poster with ladybug on a leafPellissippi State’s Marketing and Communications Office also produced the campus sustainability poster that won an award. Designed by Mark Friebus, the brightly colored poster sports an illustration of a ladybug on a leaf. It was designed to hang in the Goins Building Rotunda on the Hardin Valley Campus to educate students and visitors about the college’s sustainable campus initiative.

Pellissippi State students initiated a small campus fee to support sustainability initiatives in 2011, and those funds have been used for various projects, including recycling and waste reduction programs, educational events, and building plans for conversion to energy efficient operations.

“Pellissippi State has made great strides in promoting a sustainable campus, and we’re very proud of that,” Wood said. “We’re also very proud to have garnered a TCPRA award for the poster.”

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’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: Employee publishes instructional ‘cookbook’ on learning management system

Portrait of a male with short hair and glasses in plaid standing in front of computersSometimes good questions prompt more than answers. Sometimes they inspire a book.

For Brandon Ballentine of Pellissippi State Community College, that book is the “Desire2Learn Higher Education Cookbook,” recently released by Packt Publishing, a U.K.-based technical book publisher.

A D2L administrator for the college, Ballentine fields questions daily from faculty members who use D2L for their online classes. The D2L learning management system enables instructors to upload and manage online class materials such as study guides, tests, and grades. It is used by colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the globe.

Ballentine says he first envisioned what came to be the book as an online resource for use nationwide.

“I thought, ‘So many schools are writing their own tutorials, their own documentation, and their own tips and tricks,’” he said. “‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a central site that everyone could go to so that everyone isn’t duplicating work across the state or the country?’”

Before Ballentine could complete the website, however, Packt Publishing contacted him through LinkedIn and proposed the idea for a book.

“I had some decent notes and had started writing some chapters,” he said. “So when Packt got in touch, I had an idea of at least some things I wanted to include in the book.”

The goal of the “cookbook” is to help teachers gain expert knowledge of the tools within D2L, become more productive and create online learning experiences with the easy-to-follow recipes. And Ballentine was just the person to write it.

Having begun working at Pellissippi State in 2009, he is an instructional technology specialist in Educational Technology Services. He also teaches a course on mobile web design. While earning his master’s degree in English at East Tennessee State University, Ballentine worked in the university’s Academic Technology Support group. He says he has always been comfortable with both words and technology.

“As a former English major, it was really nice to have the chance to write a longer piece again. I definitely enjoyed finishing the project, though.” he said. “I have a few ideas for some future writing projects, but I’m not going to start those for a while.”

The “Desire2Learn Higher Education Cookbook” is Ballentine’s first book. It is available through Packt Publishing ( and Amazon.

Pellissippi State honors employees and retirees

Pellissippi State Community College recently hosted its annual recognition of employees for outstanding service, longevity and retirement.

At this year’s ceremony, the Excellence in Teaching Award went to Denise Reed, an associate professor in Business and Computer Technology. The award recognizes innovative teaching techniques and the positive impact they have had on students.

Denise Reed
Denise Reed

Reed was instrumental in the launch of Pellissippi State’s Accelerated Higher Education Associate’s Degree program. AHEAD allows students to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree with a major in Business Administration and a concentration in Management in only 16 months. Reed is also on the college’s Service-Learning advisory board and is a faculty advisor to the Rotaract Club, a Rotary Club student affiliate.

Marilyn Harper
Marilyn Harper

The Innovations Award was bestowed upon Marilyn Harper. This award is given in recognition of a project that demonstrates success of creative and original instructional and learning support activities. Harper, director of Academic Support Services, was recognized for her work in improving the use of tutoring resources at Pellissippi State’s Academic Support Center.

(L-R) Celeste Evans, Chuck Wright and Terri Strader
(L-R) Celeste Evans, Chuck Wright and Terri Strader

Two teams were honored at the ceremony with the Gene Joyce Visionary Award, which recognizes external outreach projects that have a positive impact on the community. The team of Celeste Evans, Terri Strader, and Chuck Wright was honored for its work toward establishing criteria by which students with credentials in industrial, trade, and military fields may be awarded credit for prior learning.

(L-R) Keith Norris, Rob Lloyd and Trent Eades.
(L-R) Keith Norris, Rob Lloyd and Trent Eades.

Another Gene Joyce Visionary Award was given to the team of Trent Eades, Rob Lloyd and Keith Norris for the trio’s efforts in promoting and producing Pellissippi State’s Faculty Lecture Series. The series, which is free and open to the public, features Pellissippi State faculty presenting educational and often entertaining lectures on everything from stem cell research to solar power.

Tracy Rees
Tracy Rees
Kathy King
Kathy King
John Ruppe
John Ruppe

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

Rachael Cragle
Rachael Cragle

Additional award recipients—each of whom received $100, a plaque and a medallion—included the following: Outstanding Adjunct Faculty, Tracy Rees; Outstanding Administrator, Rachael Cragle; Outstanding Contract Worker, Rebecca Harmon; Outstanding Support Professional, Kathy King; Outstanding Technical/Service/Maintenance Employee, John Ruppe; and Outstanding Full-time Faculty, Jonathan Fowler.

Funding for all awards was 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.

Rebecca Harmon
Rebecca Harmon

Pellissippi State also recognized employees at five-year increments of service, as well as council presidents and retiring employees. This year’s faculty and staff retirees included Bill Galyon, Dorothy Giles, Carl “Pete” Jones, Larry Morgan, Teresa Myers, Brenda O’Neal, Bonnie Powell, Robert Sayles and Catherine Williams.

As this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Full-time Faculty Award, Fowler carried the college’s mace at the 38th Annual Commencement Ceremony. Reed, recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, gave the Commencement address. Pellissippi State’s Commencement took place May 10 at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.

Jonathan Fowler
Jonathan Fowler

This year, Pellissippi State conferred a record number of 1,393 associate’s degrees. Approximately 938 students also completed certificates during the academic year. In 2012, another graduation record was broken when 1,166 students were awarded associate’s degrees.

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

International exhibit features Pellissippi State Photography instructor’s work

Portrait of a man with a mustache in navy blue suit with a yellow tieJohn Edwin May’s photographs capture a microcosm familiar to some but seldom chronicled by professional photographers: small-town wrestling. May, who teaches photography at Pellissippi State Community College, has a regional following that recently expanded to an international audience.

May’s work was selected by judges for the ONWARD Compé international photography competition to be displayed in an April 12-14 exhibit in Philadelphia. Juried each year by a leading figure in contemporary photography, ONWARD Compé spotlights new work that pushes the boundaries of the medium.

May entered three photographs from his series “Bell Time,” a project that spans five years and continues today.

The artist first attended a wrestling match to assist a student who asked for some help with lighting. The performers and fans captivated May. In fact, the spectacle compelled him to return again and again to high school gyms, armories and flea markets throughout East Tennessee.

Male professional wrestler walking towards ring with smoke and lights behind him.
KFW wrestler Keith Knox makes his way to the ring for a match at the National Guard Armory in Pigeon Forge during the annual Black Harvest 2012.

“I really enjoy the special exchange that happens at this spectacle, because the crowd is as much a part of it as the wrestlers are,” he said.

May was one of 53 photographers chosen for the Philadelphia exhibit. Contest organizers compiled 2,100 submissions from 29 countries for the sixth annual competition. Guest juror Mark Steinmetz chose a total of 80 submissions for the first-round selection in late March and narrowed the field for the exhibit selection. Steinmetz is a Guggenheim fellow whose has work in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, among others.

Male wrestler with championship belt on his shoulder and he bleeding from his head.
“Black Top Bully” with the Extreme Wrestling Alliance in Newport in June 2011. On this night he had just won the Extreme Heavyweight Championship Title.

In addition to exhibiting at ONWARD Compé, May’s work was displayed in the online Galerie and printed in the exhibition catalog.

While attending the exhibit and two-day ONWARD Summit, May said he planned to participate in conference workshops and bring that knowledge back for Pellissippi State students. He teaches a range of photography courses at Pellissippi State and shares his work with students. He says that he wants them to see the rewards that can come from long-term projects such as “Bell Time” and to observe how work in local, regional, and national shows can translate to an international exhibit.

In addition to recognition from exhibits, May’s work has gained a following through social media. He shares his photos on his website ( and Facebook page, where he has almost 1,000 friends that follow the “Bell Time” series.

Two male wrestlers grappling and one in a headlock submission on the mat.
Two grapplers square off in a Tennessee Mountain Wrestling match last year. Lee Moore has Joe Webb on the mat in a headlock during the Anderson County Fair 2012.

Fans and performers know May, and he receives invitations to matches in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia. He attends matches two to three times a week and always discovers something new to photograph.

“Each one is different. I just look for new things,” he said. “And now that I am becoming more known, more people will approach me and talk to me about my work. If they can’t make the wrestling event, they like to go and look at the work and see what they missed that night.”

To learn more about Pellissippi State’s Photography concentration, one of four in the Media Technologies degree program, visit

Pellissippi State Art instructor named University of Wyoming Visiting Artist

Two photos together. First is a wall with and orange ties running horizontally towards a window corner looking at trees. Second photo is a male in a black jacket and blue jeans walking along a wall that has cinder blocks next to them.
“Meridian Angle” (cinderblock, spray chalk, welding chalk, roofing felt; 2013); Covenant College Art Gallery, Lookout Mountain, Ga.; photo credit: Jason Kisner

His recent and upcoming travel itinerary includes art installations in Florida, Georgia, New Mexico and Texas. Add a jaunt to Wyoming in April to serve as a Visiting Artist in Foundations for one week at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and Brian R. Jobe, an Art faculty member at Pellissippi State Community College, is one busy artist.

Jobe is scheduled to speak at UW on April 16. In his talk, he will share with students his approach to art making, his experience working in site-specific environments and his influences. In addition, he will make an outdoor earthworks-based piece on site with the assistance of art students during the week.

In 2010, Jobe served as curator of an exhibit at Pellissippi State that brought the works of Wyoming artists to Tennessee. “Isolation: Industry” featured the art of David Lawrence Jones, Patrick Kikut and Shelby Shadwell, all instructors at UW.

Earlier this year, Jobe’s works were displayed in the Center for Emerging Media at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga.

Jobe’s art is not small. He spent two days installing his pieces for the Florida exhibit and four days working on the Georgia installation.

Art piece with various intersecting wooden pieces containing concrete.
“Lifted Jacked” (gravel, wood, cinderblock, cast concrete, steel, packaging foam; 2013); Center for Emerging Media, University of Central Florida, Orlando; photo credit: Brian R. Jobe

“Lifted Jacked,” which was on display in Florida, is a mixed-media piece consisting of gravel, wood, cinderblock, cast concrete, steel and packaging foam that measures approximately 4 x 12 x 20 feet.

Even larger is Jobe’s room-size piece exhibited in Georgia: “Meridian Angle” is roughly 4 x 16 x 32 feet. Also a mixed-media piece, it consists of cinderblock, spray chalk, welding chalk and roofing felt.

Following Jobe’s appearance in Wyoming, he exhibits his work in New Mexico this May. “An Investigation of Extra-Terrestrial Issues for the Uninitiated” is an exhibit at The Cube, a gallery in Roswell that also features the Culture Laboratory Collective, a national artist collective of which Jobe is a member.

September takes Jobe to Texas, where he participates in the group exhibit “TransAMplitude,” at BLUEorange, a contemporary art gallery based in Houston.

Jobe is slated to teach “Survey of Art History II” this summer at Pellissippi State and “Drawing I,” “Three-Dimensional Design,” and “Survey of Art History I” in the fall. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Tennessee and an M.F.A. from the University of Texas at San Antonio. For more information about Jobe, visit his website at

The application deadline for Pellissippi State’s summer classes is May 20, and the fall application deadline is Aug. 14. For additional information on Jobe’s classes or any other courses, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State instructor’s work selected in international photo competition

Portrait of a man with short hair and a mustache wearing a light blue dress shirt with a blue striped tie.John Edwin May, who teaches photography at Pellissippi State Community College, is a first-round winner in ONWARD Compé, an international photography competition for emerging photographers.

Juried each year by a leading figure in contemporary photography, ONWARD Compé spotlights new work that pushes the boundaries of the medium.

Contest organizers compiled 2,100 submissions from 29 countries for the sixth annual competition. Guest juror Mark Steinmetz chose a total of 80 submissions, including one of May’s photographs. Steinmetz is a Guggenheim fellow whose has work in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, among others.

All first-round winners will be displayed in the online Galerie. May’s work will be printed in the exhibition catalog and will be considered for the ONWARD Summit exhibit in Philadelphia on April 12-14.

May chronicles a form of entertainment widely known in towns across America: wrestling. He starting photographing matches five years ago and attends about three a week in East and Middle Tennessee. He shared his commitment and interest with judges in a statement about his work.

“In this series I am investigating the simulacrum of small town entertainment known as wrestling,” May wrote. “The constructed reality fascinates me. This fantasy sport thrives on a small intimate scale just as the national version that fills stadiums. The spectator can interact with the performers as well as approach and meet at the end of the theatrical performance.”

Learn more about Pellissippi State at or call (865) 694-6400.

Instructor from China shares culture, language with Pellissippi State students

Photo of Asian female with a red buttoned-down shirt and a black jacket.When Shuang Liu told friends in China she would be teaching in Tennessee, they first asked if she planned on going to the mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is well known in her hometown of Shenyang, the capital of and largest city in northeast China’s Liaoning province, says Liu, Confucius Classroom instructor at Pellissippi State Community College.

According to Liu, who answers to “Lydia” at the college, she has enjoyed not only the mountain vistas but also other differences between East Tennessee and China since her arrival here last August. For starters, she has become accustomed to finishing her meals with Southern desserts rather than with the traditional Chinese dessert of grapes or other fruits.

She laughs when describing another dining custom she has adopted.

“I’m used to chopsticks,” said Liu. “Here, though, there are hamburgers, pizzas and the like. I eat with just my hands a lot now. The food is different, but very good. I especially enjoy the desserts.”

In the classroom, Liu shows her students that the Chinese language is not as difficult to learn as some people believe. She explains that the characters that make up Mandarin Chinese all have a meaning. Once students become comfortable with those meanings, they have overcome the biggest obstacle.

“The grammar part of Mandarin Chinese is very, very easy compared to English,” said Liu. “Pronunciation is not too difficult, either. The characters are the hardest part, but even that is not difficult once students learn the meanings behind them.”

One of the first things her students learn is their Chinese name. Liu encourages discussion about students’ families as a way of practicing the language and honoring the Chinese emphasis on familial relationships. She also reaches out to students from China, whom she welcomes to her classroom.

“Please let students from China know that I love for them to visit my classes,” said Liu. “I enjoy seeing them make friends with my students.”

Liu serves as the full-time instructor for Chinese culture and language classes at Pellissippi State thanks to the college’s 2010 establishment of a Confucius Classroom, which is the result of a prestigious grant made by the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis. The first language class offered in 2010 was full long before registration ended.

Pellissippi State students may now choose from a series of beginning- and intermediate-level courses in Mandarin Chinese. With nearly a billion primary- or first-language speakers, Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, according to geographer Matt Rosenberg. Chinese is the third most widely spoken language in American homes, a 2009 census reports.

Fall 2013 courses available as part of the Confucius Classroom are “Beginning Chinese I” (CHIN 1010), “Beginning Chinese II” (CHIN 1020), “Intermediate Chinese I” (CHIN 2010) and “Peoples and Culture of China” (LAS 2020).

Registration for fall semester begins April 1.

For additional information, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State art faculty member named to City of Knoxville Public Arts Committee

jeffJeffrey Lockett, Art professor and program coordinator at Pellissippi State Community College, has been invited by Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero to serve a three-year term on the City of Knoxville Public Arts Committee.

The committee was created in 2008 to enrich the lives of Knoxville residents and visitors through the involvement of professional artists in integrating public artwork throughout the city. The members oversee all the artwork in downtown Knoxville, Lockett says, including approximately 50 sculptures along Gay and Church streets and in Krutch Park.

Lockett’s work has been included in countless local, regional, and national exhibitions and is housed in such collections as the Harriet V. Cornell Museum of Fine Art in Florida and the Ewing Gallery at the University of Tennessee. He has served as an instructor and visiting artist for multiple arts institutes across Tennessee. Lockett is the owner of Highland Pottery.

jeff2Lockett earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., and an M.F.A. in ceramics from UT. He has been a full-time member of Pellissippi State’s Art faculty for the past 23 years and currently teaches Ceramics I (Handbuilding) and Ceramics II (Throwing).

For more information about Pellissippi State’s art course offerings, visit or call (865) 694-6400. To learn about upcoming exhibits, go to