Category Archives: Donor

Pellissippi State Foundation: Blount County Campus home to extensive artwork thanks to local collector

Ed Harmon
Ed Harmon

Step into the two-story lobby of the new Pellissippi State Community College Blount County Campus facility and one of the first things you will notice is an oversize scenic painting by local artist Ron Williams. Stroll throughout the rest of the building and you’ll see paintings by Sevier County native Robert Tino and Maryville resident Heath Claiborne.

The bridge between the artists and Pellissippi State is Ed Harmon, who has donated 20 paintings and prints in all to the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the community college.

Harmon, a native of Blount County and a retired Sevier County business owner, has been collecting art for decades. The Maryville resident has traveled around the world three times. With each journey, he returns home with more collectibles—a porcelain figurine from Italy, jade elephants from Africa, two lifelike wooden giraffes he had shipped to his house after a trip to Kenya, in East Africa.

But it’s the local art, especially the paintings of the Appalachian region and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that are closest to Harmon’s heart. He knows Williams, Tino and Claiborne personally and admires their unique interpretations of the landscapes with which he is so familiar: Cades Cove, a Great Smoky Mountain sunset, the Little Pigeon River.

Harmon has one of Robert Tino’s first works, an oil painting of horses. The piece is displayed in the foyer of Harmon’s home.

“I served as the Key Club advisor at Sevier County High School,” said Harmon, “and met Robert Tino when he was an art student just starting out. It was obvious even then that he was extremely talented.”

Harmon recalls his own enjoyment of art in an educational setting, and he wanted to share that enjoyment with the Pellissippi State community.

“My first year out of college,” he said, “I taught in a school that hosted art shows and exhibited donated pieces. There was always art in the hallways. That added so much to the building and to the experience of everyone who attended school there or just visited.

“I wanted those who come to the Pellissippi State Blount County Campus to be able to enjoy that same experience. Blount County is so fortunate to have Pellissippi State.”

And the College, in turn, is fortunate to have supporters like Ed Harmon.

“Part of our mission is to provide opportunities for life, civic and cultural enrichment,” said Peggy Wilson. Wilson is vice president of College Advancement and executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation. Donations to the college are coordinated by the Foundation.

“Thanks to Ed Harmon, those who spend time at the Blount County Campus now have the opportunity to be enriched by a meaningful art collection. We all appreciate his willingness to share such beautiful art with the entire community, and the Foundation would certainly encourage others to contact us regarding such gifts.”

To discuss the possibility of making a donation, call the Foundation at (865) 694-6528 or email

Pellissippi State students and others benefit from First Horizon support

Pam Fansler, East Market president of First Tennessee
Pam Fansler, East Market president of First Tennessee

Working Mother magazine recently lauded First Horizon National Corporation for providing “college scholarships of up to $20,000 … when it’s time for employees’ children to leave the nest.”

The publication was describing “what we love” about the financial services business. First Horizon has made Working Mother’s “Top 100” companies list for 16 consecutive years. Based in Memphis, the corporation has a strong presence in Knoxville through its First Tennessee network of banks.

First Horizon also has a strong presence in providing scholarship and other support to Pellissippi State Community College. The company has donated to the college, through the Pellissippi State Foundation, in numerous ways since the mid-1990s.

The First Tennessee Foundation has supported annual events such as the Pellissippi State Hot Air Balloon Festival and the Swing Big for Students Golf Tournament, both of which generate money for student scholarships. When the Pellissippi State Foundation conducted campaigns to raise funds for the Magnolia Avenue and Blount County campuses, again First Horizon provided support.

But it is the endowed scholarships that bring the many letters of gratitude directly from students to the desk of Pam Fansler, East Market president of First Tennessee.

“I’ve met scholarship recipients, I receive phone calls from them, and I get letters,” said Fansler. “We get such nice notes from students, and so many of them say that without the scholarship, they would not have the opportunity to attend college.”

From a letter by a fall 2010 incoming freshman enrolled at the new Blount County Campus: “Attending college gives me the opportunity to obtain jobs that I will personally enjoy and that will give higher pay.”

From a thank-you letter by another 2010 scholarship recipient: “Returning to college is a big step towards my future, and this scholarship helps provide the means for that step and I appreciate it so much.”

But the First Horizon–Pellissippi State alliance benefits more than only college students. It also has a direct impact on small businesses in the region.

The area Tennessee Small Business Development Center, which is administered by Pellissippi State, was the recipient of a recent $5,000 contribution through the Pellissippi State Foundation from First Tennessee Bank. TSBDC provides counseling and training to small-business managers and owners and those interested in starting a small business.

According to Larry Rossini, director of the Knoxville TSBDC, the gift is being used to purchase computer supplies, equipment and software, as well as publications and books.

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

As executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation, Peggy Wilson, who is also vice president of College Advancement for the college, especially appreciates the long-term generosity of the banking network.

“First Tennessee exemplifies the ideal of a business giving back to the community,” she said. “They recognize the impact that educational opportunities have for the entire family, not just for the student who earns a scholarship.”

Likewise, First Tennessee’s Fansler thinks highly of Pellissippi State.

“Dr. Edwards, the faculty and staff, all do an exceptional job educating students in a very challenging environment right now,” she said.

“We’re really proud to be associated with Pellissippi State, and they’re a lot like we are with our employees. The people at Pellissippi State come to work every day with one thing in mind: the success of students.”

For information about making a donation to Pellissippi State, visit the Pellissippi State Foundation’s Web site,, or call the Foundation Office, (865) 694-6529.

Pellissippi State launches All Steinway campaign at Cherokee Country Club

Guests at the recent launch of Pellissippi State's All Steinway School campaign enjoy an evening at the Cherokee Country Club. Guests included campaign supporter Mary Costa, Knoxville Opera Hall of Fame member and voice of Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Other attendees, pictured from left: Todd and Stacy Moody, Ely and Phyllis Driver, Sharon Lord, and Bill Brewer.
Guests at the recent launch of Pellissippi State's All Steinway School campaign enjoy an evening at the Cherokee Country Club. Guests included campaign supporter Mary Costa, Knoxville Opera Hall of Fame member and voice of Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Other attendees, pictured from left: Todd and Stacy Moody, Ely and Phyllis Driver, Sharon Lord, and Bill Brewer.

More than 120 music lovers and Pellissippi State Community College supporters gathered recently at Cherokee Country Club for the college’s launching of the All Steinway School campaign.

The goal of the campaign, which is being coordinated by the Pellissippi State Foundation, is to raise enough funds to place 13 Steinway pianos in studios, practice rooms and performance venues.

Guests were treated to an evening of jazz, classical music and solos as they heard about the college’s burgeoning Music program and its goal of becoming an All Steinway School.

Several speakers—Allen Edwards, Pellissippi State president; Mary Costa, opera singer and voice of Princess Aurora, better known as Disney’s Sleeping Beauty; Becky Paylor, chair of the Pellissippi State Foundation board; and Bill Brewer, Pellissippi State’s Music program coordinator—addressed the audience about the need to replace existing pianos.

“We don’t have athletic teams at Pellissippi State,” said Edwards. “The Music program is our football team. When other schools are sending out athletic teams, we’re sending out musicians as our ambassadors.”

Costa talked about her experiences with Disney, the recording of “Sleeping Beauty” and the importance of the Music program to the area.

“I really am a big supporter of Pellissippi State’s Music program,” she said. “It’s important for the students to learn on the best possible instruments.”

Paylor has served on the Pellissippi State Foundation Board of Trustees for several years and is enthusiastic about the All Steinway School campaign. She pronounced the evening to be a very successful event.

“It was a great kickoff,” she said. “Money was raised, but we still have a lot of work to do before reaching our goal. In keeping with all the other programs Pellissippi State offers, our desire is to provide the highest quality music department we can for our students.”

The Steinway & Sons began producing pianos in 1853. Each piano is made by hand, requiring up to one full year to produce. Steinway pianos are the preferred instrument of nine out of 10 concert artists worldwide.

For information about participating in or giving to the All Steinway School campaign, visit or call the Foundation at (865) 694-6528. For information about the Music program, visit or call (865) 539-7178.