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.

Pellissippi State student earns CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Award

posted in: Awards, Grants, Students, TBR | 0

Alexander Marti Photo

Alexander Marti, a Pellissippi State Community College student, has earned a CyberCorps Scholarship for Service award to attend Tennessee Technological University when he graduates.

“When Associate Professor Sharon Burlingame called me about this scholarship over the summer, I thought it sounded too good to be true,” said Marti, who is in his second year at Pellissippi State.

He first came to the college as a Dual Enrollment student during his homeschooled high school years, then took online courses, and finally came to campus in 2016 as a Tennessee Promise student. He will graduate in May with a general associate degree and then transfer to Tennessee Tech.

“I took a programming class in high school and thought I wouldn’t like computer science,” Marti said. “But here at Pellissippi State, I took the classes and they clicked. I have enjoyed getting past the basics to the understanding of what happens behind the scenes of information technology.”

The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program is administered through the federal Office of Personnel Management with the intent to increase and strengthen the cadre of federal information assurance professionals that protect the government’s critical information infrastructure. CyberCorps provides scholarships and stipends that typically cover the cost of tuition and fees. Those scholarships are funded through grants awarded by the National Science Foundation.

The scholarship not only will pay for Marti’s final year at Pellissippi State and his bachelor’s degree in cyber security at Tennessee Tech, but also will pay him a stipend to allow him to focus solely on school. For three years after graduation, he will work for the federal government in a cyber security post.

“Cyber security has always interested me. It’s like being a computer police officer — someone who works to protect information and people from hackers and other cyber criminals,” Marti said.

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

Gene Haas Foundation awards $15,000 to Pellissippi State

The Gene Haas Foundation has awarded $15,000 to the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation to support the Engineering Technology program.

The grant will fund scholarships for students studying the Manufacturing concentration and pursuing the National Institute for Metalworking Skills machinist credential. The NIMS credential certifies the student’s skill against national standards. The credential commonly is used to recruit, hire or promote workers in the manufacturing industry.

This is the second time the Gene Haas Foundation has awarded a grant for scholarships to Pellissippi State. The grant goes through the Pellissippi State Foundation, which works to provide student scholarships and emergency loans and to improve facilities and secure new equipment. For more information about the Foundation, visit or call 865-694-6528.

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

Pellissippi State earns TBR grant to expand ESL courses

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Pellissippi State Community College will expand its class offerings in English as a Second Language to Tennessee residents for whom English is not a native language.

This expansion of ESL courses is thanks to a Tennessee Board of Regents Student Engagement, Retention and Success grant. The $20,080 grant will fund an outreach initiative, called REACH, to non-native English speakers in Knox and Blount counties through civic and cultural organizations, places of worship, community gathering places and businesses.

Students register for ESL courses as they would for any other class at Pellissippi State. Students also can enroll in an academic program at Pellissippi State while taking three ESL courses during their first semester, before beginning their program-specific credit courses.

Although Pellissippi State’s international student population may also take ESL courses, this grant’s purpose is to encourage greater participation from Tennessee residents for whom English is a second or other language. Additionally, the grant provides for a partnership between Pellissippi State and Walters State Community College, which does not currently offer ESL courses. Walters State will encourage its eligible students to attend Pellissippi State for these ESL courses and then return to Walters State to enter their degree programs.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. For more information about ESL courses at Pellissippi State, email

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