Pellissippi State Foundation receives civil rights-themed art donation

When Herb Rieth traveled the highways of Mississippi in 2005, he was doing so as an art teacher and as a son. Rieth was at that time serving as an art instructor in Starkville, and he frequently made the 150-mile drive to Coldwater in order to visit his mother and stepfather.

Seven years later, Reith, now an art instructor at Pellissippi State Community College, has donated a mixed-media fabric piece to the school through the Pellissippi State Foundation that was inspired by those drives.

“Savage from the Outside: An Ode to Mose Wright” is 110 inches by 119 inches.  It was created by Rieth to pay homage both to Mose Wright, the great-uncle of Emmett Till, and to the struggles for civil rights that took place in communities across Mississippi.

The August 1955 death of the 14-year-old Till and the murder trial that followed one month later served as catalysts for the emerging Civil Rights Movement.

A famous photograph of Wright testifying during the trial in Sumner—taken by photographer Ernest Withers despite a judge’s orders prohibiting photographs—shows Till’s great-uncle pointing as he identifies a defendant in court. Wright’s testimony was believed to be the first instance of a black person’s testifying against a white defendant in a Mississippi courtroom.

Rieth’s art combines history and his own firsthand impressions of the Mississippi landscape. During his visits to Coldwater, he encountered the nearby community of Savage. Rieth knew the history of the Till events, yet he was struck by the geography of the Mississippi Delta region and the area’s role as the setting for strife and, eventually, monumental change.

“Savage is just a bump in the road,” said Rieth. “That area’s flatness is only broken by running tufts of large live oaks and cottonwood trees that serve as windbreaks.

“The roads border decaying towns that lay like broken shells of a great postwar American culture. The sharp contrast in geography that I saw while driving brought home the rupture in culture that riveted the country during that hot summer 50 years before. That was the inspiration for ‘Savage from the Outside.’”

Rieth decided to donate the piece to the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the college, and it is now displayed in the McWherter Building on the Hardin Valley Campus. Students, faculty, staff and visitors can enjoy the art as both a beautiful addition to the facility and as an ode to the personal stories that helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.

This is not the first time the Foundation has received an art donation. Ed Harmon, a Blount County native and art collector, gave the school 20 paintings and prints. The pieces represent the works of local artists who focus on the landscapes of the Appalachian region.

An anonymous donor also gifted five pieces of art for the Library at the Blount County Campus. Donations to the college are coordinated by the Foundation, which works to support programs that directly impact students.

“Part of our mission is to provide opportunities for life, civic and cultural enrichment,” said Peggy Wilson. “We appreciate Herb Rieth’s willingness to share his beautiful and meaningful art with the entire community, and the Foundation would certainly encourage others to contact us regarding such gifts.” Wilson is executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation, as well as vice president of College Advancement.

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

‘A Beautiful Conversation’ about schizophrenia April 24 at Pellissippi State

Mental health has been an ongoing topic in student Jeanmarie Willson’s writing projects at Pellissippi State Community College.

Willson, the mother of two grown children, is schizophrenic. She has been forthcoming about her illness, making it a topic of essays and poems in her English classes. Now, with the help of her English professor, Ed Francisco, Pellissippi State’s writer-in-residence, she has organized a panel discussion about mental health. The event is free and open to the community.

“A Beautiful Conversation” is April 24, 12:25-1:30 p.m., in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus. A panel of Pellissippi State students and mental health professionals will discuss mental health issues and resources. Francisco moderates.

The panel, co-sponsored by Pellissippi State’s student service-learning club, Gnosis, was inspired by one of Willson’s favorite books and movies. “A Beautiful Mind” is the story of John Forbes Nash, a paranoid schizophrenic mathematician who shared the Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 1994.

“We will talk about psychotherapy in the context of a quest,” Francisco said. “Nobody gets out of this life unscathed. Everyone has problems and predicaments, and sometimes those can be overwhelming. People need to know where they can go for assistance. That’s one of the really good things we hope will come out of this discussion.”

For more information, call (865) 694-6400 or contact the English Department at (865) 694-6708.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State hosts annual Student Design Showcase April 19

Although employment of graphic designers is expected to grow 13 percent between 2008 and 2018, job seekers also are expected to face “keen competition.” That’s according to the 2010-11 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook produced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Students completing their graphic design coursework at Pellissippi State Community College plan to get an edge on that “keen competition” on April 19, when they take part in the annual Communication Graphics Technology Student Design Showcase. This year’s theme is “Design is Served.”

The event is like a graduation, celebration and potential job interview, all rolled into one evening. This year, 35 students will present their portfolios for viewing and evaluation by invited area design professionals. Each student has his or her own table display, business cards and resumes on hand.

Also open to the public, the free CGT Student Design Showcase is 4-8 p.m. at the Bagwell Center for Media and Art on the Hardin Valley Campus.

For additional information, call (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus hosts Health and Wellness Fair

Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus puts the focus on health in the upcoming Health and Wellness Fair.

Scheduled 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on April 18 in the William “Keith” McCord Lobby of the campus, the event brings together a broad range of organizations committed to improving the well-being of community residents. The Blount County Campus Health and Wellness Fair is free and open to the public.

The community vendors this year include Alcoa Chiropractic, University of Tennessee Medical Center, Blount Memorial Hospital, Cornerstone Integrative Health Associates (acupuncture), Knoxville Rolfing Structural Integration, National Fitness Center, Keola Fit Yoga, East Tennessee Medical Group Sleep Center, Marino Bone Density, Blount County Eye Center (vision screening), Blue Ridge Family Dentistry, Tennessee Vein Center, Juice Plus, Pregnancy Resource Center, Vitamin World and Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center.

Pellissippi State’s nursing students will provide glucose and blood pressure screenings.

The Blount County Campus is located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Pkwy. (U.S. 321).

For more information about the event, call (865) 981-5300. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

Graduating next month? You’re invited to breakfast with the president

All Pellissippi State students who will graduate next month are invited to attend a Graduates’ Breakfast With the President.

Celebrate your accomplishment by joining other graduates and Pellissippi State President Anthony Wise. Breakfasts are 8-9:30 a.m., and you can choose from the following dates and campus locations:

  • Wednesday, April 11, Magnolia Avenue Campus
  • Wednesday, April 18, Division Street Campus
  • Thursday, April 19, Hardin Valley Campus, Goins Building
    College Center
  • Wednesday, April 25, Blount County Campus

Graduates’ Breakfast With the President is sponsored by the Pellissippi State Alumni Association.

R.S.V.P. to Brooke Pannell, Alumni Relations coordinator, at (865) 539-7275, or email

Pellissippi State’s writer-in-residence presents ‘Sexy Shakespeare II’

Ed Francisco
Ed Francisco

Lovers, wives and dalliances: William Shakespeare had so many affairs that his love life is legendary.

Ed Francisco, English professor and writer-in-residence at Pellissippi State Community College, discussed the liaisons in his first “Sexy Shakespeare” lecture a few months ago to a standing-room-only crowd. Now, he says, the research done for that lecture has inspired him to present a second lecture and write a novel.

Francisco will read from the first two chapters of his work-in-progress at the Thursday, April 19, lecture, “Sexy Shakespeare II: The Further Adventures of the Amorous Bard of Avon.” He will discuss Shakespeare’s web of women and, using material from the writer’s plays and poems, will speculate about the identity of the mysterious “dark lady,” whom Shakespeare apparently loved.

The community is invited to the free event. It takes place 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus. The presentation is sponsored by Pellissippi State’s student service-learning club, Gnosis, and the college’s Faculty Lecture Series.

For more information, call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State hosts Fifth Annual International Festival of Cultures April 13

The Fifth Annual International Festival of Cultures at Pellissippi State Community College features an eclectic sampling of food, music and culture from around the globe.

The celebration is scheduled 4-9:30 p.m. on April 13 in the Goins Building College Center on the Hardin Valley Campus. The public is invited to attend the free event.

The entertainment includes Café Brasil, a local Brazilian band led by Pellissippi State music instructor Larry Vincent, and Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Thunder, a bluegrass band.

Atlanta’s Miyagi Ryu Okinawa Dance Group performs traditional Japanese dances, and Kingsport-based Blue Hawaii Entertainment demonstrates authentic Hawaiian and Polynesian dances. In addition, the Broadway Academy of Performing Arts in Knoxville and BAPA master dance teacher Greg Carney present hip-hop and line dancing.

There will be booths and exhibits that showcase international art, clothes, and artifacts by Pellissippi State’s international students.

The list of international food runs the gamut: Australian drunk chicken, Brazilian collards, West African benachin, Irish báirín breac, Ethiopian sambussa, Spanish paella, Middle Eastern tabbouleh, German bratwursts, white beans and cabbage, Indian Gobi chana masala, Mexican empanada, Thai shrimp red curry, Korean beef bulgogi, and Poland’s chlebek truskawkowy.

For more information about this event, contact (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

DrumGlory to perform for, engage attendees

All at the College are invited on Wednesday, April 4, to enjoy and maybe even participate in a drumming circle led by DrumGlory.

DrumGlory will demonstrate drumming 7:30-8:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus. The free event is one of the student activities that revolve around the theme of Africa and this year’s Common Book, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope,” by William Kamkwamba.

The drumming group’s genesis came when Catrina Adams, then a 46-year-old Pellissippi State student, asked her instructor if she could write an assigned research paper about her latest passion: hand drumming. Ed Francisco, English professor and writer-in-residence, agreed.

Adams not only did the research—showing that drumming is connected to a rise in serotonin and endorphins—but she also got two other class members to join her in demonstrating the skill to Francisco’s Survey of American Literature.

“The essence of the drumbeat starts in the womb with your mother’s heartbeat,” Adams said. “Research proves that those addicted to alcohol will improve with hand drumming. A drum manufacturer chose to invest in the science of drumming. With one hour of drumming, natural killer cells activity increases and stimulates the brain to produce more serotonin and endorphins.”

The research paper was two years ago. Since that time Adams and fellow students Harold Puckett, 49, and Lynn Wall, 42, have launched DrumGlory. They also have used it to benefit the community. The group has facilitated drumming at Dollywood and has worked with Cornerstone of Recovery and the 4-H Center in Grainger County.

Pellissippi State celebrates selection of new president Anthony Wise April 10

Dr. Wise headshotPellissippi State Community College celebrates the selection of its new president, L. Anthony Wise Jr., with the Presentation of the Presidential Regalia on Tuesday, April 10, at 2 p.m. in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus.

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan speaks at the event, and President Wise also addresses the audience. Following the presentation, Pellissippi State hosts a reception in the campus’ Courtyard.

Wise began his tenure as president of Pellissippi State on July 1, 2011. Yet he was no stranger to the college before being chosen to lead the institution. Between May 2007 and June 2011, he served as vice president of the Learning Division. He also was department head of Liberal Arts for three years and taught history at Pellissippi State for nine years.

President Wise earned a Ph.D. in history in 1997 from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree in U.S. history in 1993 from Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and a bachelor’s degree in history and business economics in 1990 from Wofford College in South Carolina.

Throughout his career, Wise has played an active role in numerous committees and councils hosted by educational bodies such as the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Tennessee Board of Regents, the National Alliance of Community and Technical Colleges, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Honors include selection for participation in TBR’s Global Leadership Academy, Class of 2008, and the Regents Academic Leadership Institute, Class of 2006.

Locally, the new president serves on the boards of the Great Schools Partnership, Project GRAD and the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee’s Workforce Connections.

President Wise and his wife, Lynn, have three children. The family is actively involved in soccer, dance and music.

Music for the Presentation of the Presidential Regalia will be provided by Variations student ensemble, under the direction of Bill Brewer, Music program coordinator.

To learn more about Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State: National ‘Advisor of the Year’ teaches retirement finances course April 10-17

The nation’s 2011 Advisor of the Year, as recognized by financial industry publication Senior Market Advisor, is local resident Jim Brogan. A non-credit instructor at Pellissippi State Community College since 2007, Brogan is still delivering his popular finance courses. His next offering, “How to Thrive Financially in Retirement,” begins on April 10.

Brogan is owner and president of Brogan Financial, a Knoxville-based retirement and legacy planning firm. The author, talk show host and philanthropist earned his M.B.A. from the University of Tennessee and is a certified retirement financial advisor. Brogan’s class is offered on Tuesdays, April 10-17, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Hardin Valley Campus.

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus offers the same course on Thursdays, April 12-19, 6:30-8:30 p.m. The Blount County classes are led by Jim Kraeske, an investment advisor representative with Brogan Financial. The campus is located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Pkwy.

The course fee for “How to Thrive Financially in Retirement” is $59.

For additional information about this or other non-credit courses offered by Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services Division, call (865) 539-7167 or visit The entire course catalog is available online.

Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN