Pellissippi State’s free concert series continues with Winter Choral Concert

The 2011-2012 free concert series presented by Pellissippi State Community College resumes on Feb. 21 with the Winter Choral Concert. For the third consecutive year, two high school choirs, Karns and South Doyle, are guest performers.

During the hourlong concert, each of the young choirs will perform a 15-minute set of selections. Also presenting 15-minute sets are Pellissippi State’s two student choirs, the Concert Chorale and Variations Ensemble.

The Variations set includes music the students plan to perform during their upcoming spring break tour of central Germany. The evening’s finale brings the high school performers onstage to join Pellissippi State’s choirs.

Every Winter Choral Concert features two different schools, and new ones are invited each academic year. Bill Brewer, the college’s Music program coordinator, started the tradition.

Singers will be accompanied by pianists performing on Steinway pianos, in keeping with Pellissippi State’s status as an All Steinway School. The achievement of becoming an All Steinway School was reached last year as the result of a fundraising campaign begun in 2010 by the Pellissippi State Foundation in order to elevate the college’s Music program to world-class status. Pellissippi State now boasts 13 Steinway pianos in studios, practice rooms and performance venues.

Not only is Pellissippi State the premier All Steinway community college in Tennessee, but it is also the fourth All Steinway community college in the nation and one of only about 135 All Steinway schools in the world.

Like all events in the series, admission to the Winter Choral Concert is free. However, donations are accepted at the door for the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the Music Scholarship Fund. For the 2010-11 academic year, the Foundation awarded more than 100 music-related scholarships to more than 80 Pellissippi State students.

The 7 p.m. performance is in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Parking is convenient and free.

For information on the Steinway Maintenance Society, call the Pellissippi State Foundation at (865) 694-6529 or visit

For additional concert 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’s Blount County Campus hosts Feb. 16 open house

Whether you’re a prospective student or would just like to see Blount County’s newest college facility, you are invited to an open house at the Blount County Campus of Pellissippi State Community College Feb. 16, 4-6 p.m. The campus is located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Pkwy.

Opened in August 2010, the two-story, 70,485-square-foot building is home to the Nursing program (along with the Magnolia Avenue Campus in Knoxville), the state-of-the-art Manufacturing Tech Lab, an amphitheatre, and science and computer labs and classrooms, including one for distance education.

“It’s really an opportunity for prospective students and the community—particularly anyone who didn’t get to attend the grand opening—to take the time to see what Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus offers,” said Holly Burkett, assistant dean of the site.

Prospective students attending the event will get all the information necessary for a smooth entrance into college life, including how-tos on admission and financial aid and info on services for students with disabilities, dual enrollment and degrees offered. The community also can learn about educational and training opportunities offered through the college’s non-credit division, Business and Community Services.

To find out more, contact Holly Burkett at (865) 981-5300 or To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State writer-in-residence to read poems from new book

Ed Francisco
Ed Francisco

In his ninth book of poetry, Ed Francisco’s search for the perfect words and expressions to illustrate his thoughts and experiences takes him through America, England, Finland and beyond.

Francisco, English professor and writer-in-residence at Pellissippi State Community College, reads from his newest poetry volume, “Only the Word Gives Us Being,” at two venues the week of Feb. 13.

The first reading is on the 13th at 11:50 a.m.-12:40 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The second is on Feb. 18, 2-3 p.m., at Union Ave Books, 517 Union Ave. in downtown Knoxville.

The book was released in December by Birch Brook Press. It is available to purchase at, the Pellissippi State Bookstore and Union Ave Books.

Francisco’s essays, poems and short fiction have been published in more than 100 magazines and journals. He most highly acclaimed books of poetry are “The Alchemy of Words” and “Death, Child, and Love: Poems 1980-2000.” His novels include “Till Shadows Flee” and “The Dealmaker.”

He is also principal editor of “The South in Perspective,” an anthology of Southern literature that has been adopted by colleges and universities across the country. He is a member of the Oxford Roundtable at the University of Oxford, England.

The public is invited to attend both of the free readings. For additional information, contact (865) 694-6400.

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

Nine Pellissippi State art faculty featured in downtown exhibit

“Forward,” an exhibit by nine of Pellissippi State’s art faculty, opens Feb. 3 at Emporium Center’s Balcony Gallery. Pictured: Jennifer Brickey’s “It’s a Stretch” (pen, ink, acrylic on watercolor paper).

Their chosen working materials vary, from fabric and metal to acrylics and mixed media. What the nine diverse artists have in common is that all are members of the studio art faculty at Pellissippi State Community College, and all are featured in a three-week exhibit at downtown’s Emporium Center.

“Forward” features the creations of Randy Arnold, Jennifer Brickey, Jim Darrow, Brian Jobe, Anne Kinggard, Jeff Lockett, Alison Oakes, Herb Rieth and Mike Rose. The “Forward” theme implies “toward or at a place, point or time in advance.”

Pictured: Jeff Lockett’s “Free Moral Agency” (ceramic).

The multi-artist exhibit debuts on Feb. 3 and is one of the events featured at the monthly Knoxville’s First Friday. A special opening reception takes place that evening, 5-9 p.m., in the Emporium Center’s Balcony Gallery.

The exhibit remains on display through Feb. 24. The Emporium Center is located at 100 S. Gay St. Gallery hours are weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with special First Friday hours on Saturday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Pellissippi State offers a full spectrum of art courses in ceramics, design, drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture in a studio setting under the guidance of practicing professional artists. For more information, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Late Kentucky poet laureate’s cufflinks return to family via Pellissippi State

Ed Francisco, left, Pellissippi State English professor and writer-in-residence, recently presented to the family of the late Jesse Stuart a set of cufflinks that once belonged to the Kentucky author and poet laureate. Pictured with Francisco are, from left, Gary North; his wife, Marty North (Stuart’s niece); and their son, Mike North. Mike North is assistant dean of Pellissippi State’s Division Street Campus.

A pair of cufflinks recently united the Pellissippi State Community College community with relatives of the well-known Appalachian author Jesse Stuart. Stuart (1907-1984), Kentucky’s poet laureate in 1954, is most famous for his novels “Taps for Private Tussie” and “The Thread That Runs So True.”

On their decades-long journey, the cufflinks, a ruby-eyed fish design, passed through the hands of three well-known Appalachian writers: Stuart, George Scarbrough and Edward Francisco.

Francisco, English professor and writer-in-residence at Pellissippi State, is the author of several books of fiction and poetry. He is also a member of the Oxford Roundtable at the University of Oxford. It was Francisco who arranged the gathering at which he presented the cufflinks to Jesse Stuart’s niece, Marty North. Marty lives in Farragut with her husband, Gary North.

Francisco tells the story of how he came to have the cufflinks that were originally owned by Stuart.

“Jesse had a writer friend, George Scarbrough [1915-2008], who admired the cufflinks one day,” said Francisco. Stuart, in turn, presented the set to Scarbrough as a gift. Scarbrough went on to become famous in his own right, with a novel and five major books of poetry, one of which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1990.

“Years later, George and I became friends—we both taught at writing conferences,” Francisco said. “One day I complimented him on his cufflinks, and he said, ‘These belonged to Jesse Stuart, and I’m giving them to you. You wear French cuffs and I don’t, and probably never will.’”

About 15 years after receiving the cufflinks, Francisco says, he discovered that a Pellissippi State co-worker, Mike North, was one of Jesse Stuart’s great-nephews. The assistant dean of the college’s Division Street Campus is also the son of Marty and Gary North.

Francisco decided then that the cufflinks needed to be returned to the Stuart family. The transfer was recently completed at the Pellissippi Campus.

Marty North recalls her many childhood visits to W-Hollow, Jesse Stuart’s home outside of Greenup, in the northeast corner of Kentucky.

“So many people would just walk up to the door,” she said, “hoping that Uncle Jesse would be there and they could see him. Aunt Deane was so gracious. If he was busy writing, she’d explain that, but many times they’d invite people in.

“Jesse loved people and was quite a talker. He was a very outgoing, boisterous, interesting man, and Aunt Deane was a gentle, calm, elegant lady who edited everything he wrote. They cared very much for each other and their daughter, Jane.

“I was very delighted to get the cufflinks from Ed [Francisco]. It is really a treat to have those of Uncle Jesse’s.”

Pellissippi State student conquers math phobia, pursues economics at Columbia U.

Pellissippi State student Toby Goldstein, pictured in a vehicle in Afghanistan, where he supported the U.S. military’s interpretation program. Goldstein completed a degree at Pellissippi State in December and is continuing his education at Columbia University in New York City. He plans to pursue economics, with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies.

Toby J. Goldstein just earned a two-year associate’s degree from Pellissippi State Community College, and now he has been accepted to Columbia University in New York City. Founded in the 1700s, Columbia is not only one of the oldest universities in the country, but it also is consistently ranked among the top five institutions of higher learning.

The 31-year-old student will pursue a bachelor’s degree in economics at the Ivy League school—quite an accomplishment for someone who spent years avoiding college because he was afraid to take math.

Goldstein credits Pellissippi State for helping him overcome, and even embrace, the subject. It was through the community college, he says, that his longtime phobia for math—a discipline that figures prominently in such economics concepts as input and output, supply and demand, and inflation and recession—became an affinity.

In 2005, Goldstein, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, was released from the military. After his discharge, he returned to the Middle East and studied at an Arabic language institute in Egypt for eight months.

Language school completed, he then had to make a pivotal decision: should he return to the U.S. to pursue a college degree or accept a job overseas?

Not ready to face the specter of tackling college math, he opted for the latter.

“I honestly felt more comfortable in a wartime environment than I did trying to get through algebra again,” he said. “I had such a bad experience with it in high school that I put college off to take a job in the defense industry.”

Once back in Iraq, Goldstein worked a contract worker who supported the U.S. military’s interpretation program. He was responsible for large operations and several hundred employees assigned to the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command.

Ultimately, he lived in the Middle East 2004-2010. He married during his last months there, and the couple returned to the U.S. By that time, Goldstein had come to accept the need for a college education.

“I decided to move to Knoxville and go to Pellissippi State,” he said. When he began classes in January 2010, it was no surprise that entry testing pointed to the need for pre-college-level math.

“Before I came to Pellissippi State, I hated math,” Goldstein said. “I was really bad at it. At Pellissippi State, I started with the Carnegie program [computerized math exercises used in the developmental classroom] and eventually got over my fear of it.

“It was when I took Basic Calculus that I really developed a passion for mathematics—I really got into it. The math education I’ve received here has been amazing. I’m forever grateful to the Transitional Studies [pre-college-level] and math teachers. ”

Goldstein said he had initially planned to transfer from Pellissippi State to the University of Tennessee and pursue a degree in finance. He changed his mind once he took economics.

“That class gave me an idea of how intriguing, expansive and applicable economics can be,” Goldstein said. “We were assigned an individual country study, and I chose to do mine on Iraq.”

With his Arabic language background and his newfound aptitude for math, he said, “it began to occur to me that the economics of the Middle East could be a legitimate intellectual pursuit.” He decided to combine economics with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies.

About the same time, Goldstein discovered that Columbia University had admitted Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as transfers from community colleges.

“I changed gears immediately,” he said. “I worked with Ben Sugg, coordinator of Academic Student Support at Pellissippi State, to come up with a schedule that would help prepare me for Columbia, fulfill the requirements for an associate’s degree and transfer to UT if I didn’t get accepted to Columbia.”

Goldstein completed the requirements for an Associate of Science degree at Pellissippi State in December. He finished with a 4.0 grade point average and was a member of the college chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society of two-year colleges. He also served as vice president of the Entrepreneurs Club.

“This school has some of the best instructors I have ever been exposed to,” Goldstein said. “They have so much passion about what they are doing, it’s infectious, and they really challenge you to become the best you can be.”

Pellissippi State has more than 11,000 students at its four locations: the Pellissippi Campus, Blount County Campus, Division Street Campus and Magnolia Avenue Campus. For more information about Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or go to

Public invited to Pellissippi State’s Feb. 8 ‘Healthy Pelli’ Health Fair

Members of the community interested in monitoring and improving their health will benefit from the “Healthy Pelli” Health Fair hosted on Feb. 8 by Pellissippi State Community College’ Magnolia Avenue Campus.

Designed to bring free health screenings, tips for good health, demonstrations and food tastings to Pellissippi State students, faculty and staff, the fair also shares its assembly of health resources with the public.

Attendees may choose to receive free health screenings such as blood glucose, blood pressure and carotid artery ultrasound screenings. In addition, the Knox County Health Department is offering STD (sexually transmitted disease) screenings and Helen Ross McNabb, along with Samaritan Ministries, is providing HIV testing (no needles or blood). Demonstrations include stress relief exercises, yoga and massage.

Participating in Healthy Pelli are the following:

  • Brown Chiropractic
  • Cherokee Health Systems
  • Covenant Health
  • Earth Fare
  • Glowing Body Yoga Studio and Apparel
  • Helen Ross McNabb Center
  • InterFaith Health Clinic
  • Knox County Health Department
  • Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center
  • Knoxville Recycling Coalition
  • Knoxville Track Club
  • Metropolitan Drug Commission
  • Papa Murphy’s Take ’N’ Bake Pizza
  • Samaritan Ministries
  • Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee
  • United Healthcare
  • UT Medical Center–Community Health
  • Volunteer State Health Plan (BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee)
  • Walgreens
  • Western Heights Dental

Healthy Pelli Health Fair hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The Magnolia Avenue Campus is located at 1610 E. Magnolia Ave. The event is free.

For additional information, call (865) 694-6400 or 329-3100. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

Text alerts for college fees now available

Tuition deadlines have a way of sneaking up, but now there’s a solution: Students, and even their families, can sign up for text message reminders that a billing statement is on hand.

Mandy Bentz, Pellissippi State bursar, says that students can log into their myPellissippi account and opt to receive the text alerts. Students also can send an invitation for parents or other family members to be designated as authorized users who receive the messages, too.

Employers who are paying for or reimbursing an employee’s tuition can be set up as authorized users as well. The student can select how much information the authorized user sees—billing statements, payment history or both—says Bentz.

The text alerts can be particularly helpful to students who have charges withdrawn automatically from a bank account.

“The system already sends emails, but we wanted to use texts as another way to reach students,” Bentz said.

For more information, contact Bentz at 539-7203.

Pellissippi State lecture addresses role of commercialism, women in the 1920s

David Key, an assistant professor of history at Pellissippi State, will discuss how consumerism and the rise of the "new woman" in the 1920s impacted American culture. His Feb. 1 lecture is sponsored by Gnosis student organization and is free and open to the public.

David Key, an assistant history professor for Pellissippi State Community College, discusses at a Feb. 1 lecture how consumerism and the rise of the “new woman” in the 1920s rocked American culture.

The community is invited to the free presentation, set for 4:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

“America became really, really modern really, really fast—in about a 40-year period,” Key said. “The change in moral and consumer culture created cultural conflict.”

Key says that the 1920s saw the beginnings of “modern” America.

“Even our concepts of modern dating, which include cars and theaters, are byproducts of the 1920s,” he said. “America had felt the effects of industrialism and urbanization. Jobs had been created and advertising had exploded.

“People started to become acclimated to buying things with credit. We moved from a society of delayed gratification to immediate gratification.”

The event is sponsored by Gnosis, Pellissippi State’s student service-learning club, and supported by the Faculty Lecture Series. Gnosis members do charitable work for the community, and the club hosts many educational events throughout the year. The college has recognized Gnosis as its top student club for the past two years.

For more information, contact Annie Gray ( or Trent Eades (, Gnosis faculty sponsors, or call 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 dedication of Dr. Sharon Lord Music Suite

Dr. Sharon Lord
Dr. Sharon Lord

Pellissippi State Community College hosted a ceremony honoring well-known Knoxvillian Sharon Lord and dedicating the Dr. Sharon Lord Music Suite on Sept. 13. The suite is located on the Pellissippi Campus in the Alexander Building, where the event took place.

The Dr. Sharon Lord Music Suite was unveiled by Lord and the college’s Bill Brewer, Music program coordinator. The Pellissippi State Foundation received the gift from Lord on behalf of the Music program.

Lord, a community leader, motivational speaker and management consultant, provided an enthusiastic and memorable presentation. She spoke of the joy she receives from music and of her desire to create more joy by sharing music with others.

One of the highlights was an impromptu performance by Lord and her sister, Betsy. The duet entertained attendees with an a cappella song about their mother, Claudia. The words were written by Sharon Lord and set to the tune of the popular 1920s song “Has Anybody Seen My Gal?”

“My mother, Claudia Stuart, was my early inspiration for music,” said Lord. “She always dreamed of playing the piano and could play by ear on the black keys. My earliest memories are of Momma being able to play any song without sheet music.

“I thought she was magical. She seemed to know all the words to all the songs. She never got to take piano lessons, but she insisted that all six of her children take lessons.”

Dr. Sharon Lord
Dr. Sharon Lord

Also instrumental in laying the foundation of Lord’s lifelong love of music was William Barrett, a band director and math teacher.

“William Barrett was my mentor, inspiration and motivator in music beginning when I was in fourth grade,” she said. “He was determined to create a band in our high school. In order to do that, he would give free lessons and provide the musical instrument to promising students in grades four through six.

“I’ll never forget when he put an E-flat alto saxophone in my hands and I squawked the first sound out of that sax. I wasn’t much taller than the saxophone case. I could already read sheet music because of my exposure to piano lessons. I loved it!”

Lord expressed her delight at being honored by Pellissippi State.

“I have chosen throughout my life to contribute to the empowerment of children and adults,” she said. “Music is probably the most magical way to empower children—and the child in all of us. Music education should be the norm for every child. It is a privilege to contribute to the quality of music education at Pellissippi State.”

A Steinway Celebration concert featuring noted pianist William DeVan, an official “Steinway Artist,” took place immediately following the dedication ceremony. The concert celebrated Pellissippi State’s achievement of becoming an All Steinway School.

Also a supporter of the All Steinway School campaign, Lord has played key leadership roles on the local, national and international level in academia, business and government service.

A West Virginia native, she served as the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense during the administration of President Ronald Reagan and later as West Virginia’s secretary of human services. The author of numerous books and publications, she continues to speak internationally on topics of creative leadership, healthy lifestyles and managing challenging transitions.

The Pellissippi State Foundation kicked off the All Steinway School fundraising campaign in 2010 in order to elevate the college’s Music program to world-class status. Thanks to the campaign, the community college now boasts 13 Steinway pianos in studios, practice rooms and performance venues.

Not only is Pellissippi State the premier All Steinway community college in Tennessee, but it is also the fourth All Steinway community college in the nation and one of only about 120 All Steinway colleges and universities in the world.

For information on the Steinway Maintenance Society, call the Pellissippi State Foundation at (865) 694-6529 or visit

Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN