Trevis Gardner named Pellissippi State’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni

Trevis Gardner

For Trevis Gardner, Pellissippi State Community College’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award winner, success is all about building relationships.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is given to an individual in recognition of significant professional achievement, service to the community, and support of the college and the Pellissippi State Foundation. The 1991 graduate was presented the award at a recent Alumni Association luncheon at the college.

Gardner is vice president of operations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. He oversees nearly every tangible aspect of the airport experience — from parking to buying a ticket to getting on a plane and leaving and coming back to Knoxville — not only at McGhee Tyson Airport but also at Downtown Island Airport.

The MKAA is responsible for creating the business environment that allows the hundreds of airport vendors to engage with customers. Every layer of service between the MKAA and the passengers falls under Gardner’s purview.

But the technical responsibilities aren’t what Gardner talks about — it’s the relationships.

“I manage people from entry-level positions to folks who are much smarter than I am,” he said. “I get to have a lot of different relationships with people. I feel like I’m in the Tower of London making sure the crown jewels are safe. The organization trusts me to make sure I take care of these people.”

Gardner earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Civil Engineering Technology from what was then Pellissippi State Technical Community College and later earned a surveying certificate. He served in the U.S. Air Force and Tennessee Air National Guard from 1987 to 2011, and he has worked for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority since 1991.

According to Gardner, his grades weren’t exactly those of a model student when he initially enrolled at Pellissippi State.

“I should not have gone to community college, should not have gone to university, should not have graduated, by all statistical measures,” Gardner said.

But after he came to Pellissippi State on the GI Bill, his mindset changed.

“I loved learning at Pellissippi State,” he said. “I felt like I was home. My time at Pellissippi State was some of the most fun I ever had.”

Besides working for the airport authority, Gardner is also very active in the community, particularly in his native Blount County. He has served on the Blount County Board of Education and the board of the Adult Education Foundation of Blount County. He has worked as a tutor for the GED Preparation Program at the Blount County Justice Center, as well as with many other organizations and causes.

“This year, there were three candidates for this award,” said Peggy Wilson, vice president of College Advancement and executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation. “A committee of Foundation board members reviewed the nominations and felt Trevis was the best candidate. We congratulate him!”

To learn about the benefits of being part of the Pellissippi State Alumni Association, visit or call (865) 539-7275.

Pellissippi State certified as a veteran-friendly campus

posted in: Awards, Community, TBR, Veterans | 0

The state recently certified Pellissippi State Community College as a “VETS Campus,” in acknowledgment of the institution’s efforts to ensure veterans experience a successful transition from military service to college enrollment.

“This designation is important because it recognizes Pellissippi State’s commitment to educating our men and women who have served in the military,” said Rachael Cragle. Cragle is Pellissippi State’s Advising director. She also is project director of the grants that help fund a number of the college’s student veteran support projects, including the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center.

“This certification validates all of the work that Pellissippi State has done to establish our Veterans Success Center and to provide support for our student veterans,” said Cragle.

The certification is part of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act, which was passed into law earlier this year. The VETS Act recognizes colleges that not only deliver services to veterans but also “create a supportive environment where student veterans can prosper while pursuing their education.”

Pellissippi State opened the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center one year ago this Veterans Day (Nov. 11) to provide space for veterans to gather, study, and relax, as well as to have access to advising and mentoring services.

The college provides pre-enrollment services—such as test preparation and help with benefits—through a partnership with the Veterans Upward Bound Program at the University of Tennessee.

The school communicates with its student veterans through email from enrollment to graduation and beyond, with the goals of improving retention rates and identifying situations that might require intervention. Pellissippi State offers veterans credit for military and other career experience through prior learning assessment, or PLA.

The college’s outreach programs to veterans are funded in part by a $37,982 Tennessee Access and Success Network grant and a three-year, $98,000 Tennessee Board of Regents Access and Diversity grant. Community partners include the Knoxville Rotary Club, the East Tennessee Military Affairs Council, and other non-profit and support groups.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s efforts to help student veterans succeed, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State honors veterans with week’s worth of events

posted in: Community, Events, Students, Veterans | 0

Pellissippi State Community College serves one of the largest veteran populations of any Tennessee community college. In the week leading up to Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the college will host a series of events in honor of veterans—particularly student veterans.

“Student veterans often have unique challenges when entering or returning to school,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president. “Some of our Veterans Week events are geared toward helping student veterans overcome those challenges, and some of our events are meant to celebrate their service and the service of all veterans.”

A focal point in the week is a presentation by Capt. William Robinson, Vietnam veteran, former prisoner of war and author of “The Longest Rescue.” Robinson speaks 11-noon Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The schedule of events, all at the Hardin Valley Campus:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 4:
    • Flag-raising ceremony at 9 a.m. outside the Goins Building, featuring Rolling Thunder Chapter 3, an organization dedicated to publicizing the search for prisoners of war and those missing in action
    • Suicide prevention presentation, 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center, to include information about prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action
  • Wednesday, Nov. 5:
    • “Missing Man” ceremony at 10:45 a.m. in the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center, featuring Rolling Thunder Chapter 3
  • Monday, Nov. 10:
    • Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6598, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Goins Building Rotunda, to share what the VFW does to help veterans
    • “MASH” screening, noon-2 in the Goins Building Auditorium
  • Tuesday, Nov. 11:
    • Heroes’ Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m. in the Goins Building Cafeteria Annex to honor all of Pellissippi State’s student veterans
    • Cake and punch, noon-2 in the Goins Building Rotunda

For more information about these events or Pellissippi State programs, 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 opens Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center Nov. 11

posted in: Community, Events, Veterans | 0

Pellissippi State Community College celebrates the grand opening of the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11, with a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony. The community is invited to attend.

The ceremony begins at 3 p.m. in the courtyard outside the Educational Resources Center, where the new facility is housed. The Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center is located on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The dedication will be attended by Pellissippi State student veterans, area dignitaries and elected officials. The Veterans Success Center’s namesake, Ben Atchley, an early and longtime supporter of Pellissippi State, also will be present.

Atchley, who was born in Knoxville in 1930, served in the U.S. Naval Reserves–Seabees (Construction Battalion) for 10 years, 1948-58. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1972, then to the Senate in 1976, where he served for 28 consecutive years. He retired from the Legislature in 2004.

The Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center will centralize veteran-related services—including tutoring, mentoring, advising, financial assistance and job placement services—at a single location. The facility plans to serve an estimated 125 veterans each year.

“We’re trying to provide an additional layer of support to an important group of students, and a growing group of students, who are returning to college after service in Iraq or Afghanistan,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president.

“We want to provide the best possible environment for them to learn and grow while they’re here at Pellissippi State.”

Pellissippi State hopes the Veterans Success Center also helps increase retention among student veterans.

Statistics indicate that more than 88 percent of veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill abandon higher education pursuits after the end of their second semester of college, and only 3 percent graduate. Feelings of isolation are said to be a major contributing factor to veterans’ dropping out.

“The Veterans Success Center will offer not only the ‘formal’ network of support these students need,” said Ted Lewis, vice president of Academic Affairs, “but it will also provide them with an informal network through which they can work together, socialize and share common interests.”

The Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center was funded in part by grants from the Tennessee College Access and Success Network and the Tennessee Board of Regents Office of Access and Diversity.

For more information about the Veterans Success Center, call (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

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