Legislative changes affect performance evaluation confidentiality

Tennessee legislators passed a number of bills this year that affect Pellissippi State, notable among them, that job performance evaluations of certain state employees will no longer be considered a public record, and thus will not be eligible for distribution under the Freedom of Information Act.

That statewide change applies to employees of public institutions of higher education.

“Job performance evaluations” is defined to mean performance evaluations completed by supervisors and self-evaluations, as well as communications concerning those evaluations and all scores, notes, memoranda, and other records relating to job performance evaluations. In the future, those records will be considered confidential.

The change doesn’t affect records that might be accessed by law enforcement or courts, but it does affect public access and public records requests.

Other legislative bills include new processes for situations that involve cyber hacks and sexual assault, changes to employee insurance and benefits, and

  • The addition of Veterans Day as a holiday.
  • The launch of the Community College Reconnect grant pilot program in the 2016-2017 academic year.
  • The approval of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support Act.
  • The creation of the Go Build Tennessee program, promoting career opportunities in the construction trades.

To learn more about these and other legislative measures that affect higher ed in Tennessee, click here.

Support Pellissippi State Foundation on Amazon Smile

Amazon Smile logo

Shop online at smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a percentage of the price of any item you buy to the Pellissippi State Foundation.

Using Amazon Smile allows shoppers to designate .5 percent of the cost of eligible purchases to go to the charity of their choice.

The Foundation works on behalf of the College to provide student scholarships and emergency loans, as well as to improve facilities and secure new equipment.

To support the Foundation and Pellissippi State, simply log in to Amazon Smile with your Amazon account (or create one), then choose to donate to “Pellissippi State Technical Community College Foundation.” Using Amazon Smile costs no more than shopping on Amazon. The site has the same products, same prices and same service.

To learn more about the Pellissippi Foundation and other ways to donate, visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call (865) 694-6528.

Wise receives Avid certification, joins ‘elite’ group


Paul Wise, an engineering laboratory technician in Engineering and Media Technologies, has achieved “Elite” status as an Avid Certified Support Representative.

Avid Technology Inc. specializes in audio and video production technology, especially editing, management, and distribution systems. The ACSR certification means Wise has completed more than 500 hours of training classes and exams in different Avid editing systems, including shared storage, production workflow, asset management, and Cloud-based collaboration.

“This certification allows me to be able to provide Pellissippi State and our students with cutting-edge technologies and the ability to introduce our students to enterprise-level workflows,” he says.

Wise is one of fewer than 100 active ACSR Elites around the world. But unlike most of them, who specialize in only one discipline, he is certified in Media Composer, the video side of ACSR, and Pro Tools, the audio side, as well as the workflow required to bridge both worlds.

Wise hopes the certification, plus new Avid software, will allow Pellissippi State to offer Cloud-based video and audio editing for instructors and, eventually, students.

Wise graduated from Pellissippi State in 1996 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Video Production Technology.

TBR Course Revitalization grants awarded to chemistry, math

This fall, the MATH 1010 Survey of Mathematics and CHEM 1110 General Chemistry I courses will get a boost toward improving student learning and success, thanks to funding from Tennessee Board of Regents Course Revitalization grants.

MATH 1010 will be offered in a corequisite model, in which students who need remediation study alongside those already achieving at grade level. These types of “embedded courses” were piloted at Pellissippi State last year.

The goal of embedded courses is for students to address deficiencies while making progress towards graduation by completing a required core course. In fall 2014, more than 1,300 students entered Pellissippi State with math deficiencies.

The math revitalization pilot will take place over the summer at the Blount County, Hardin Valley and Magnolia Avenue campuses, then be expanded to include all five campuses in the fall.

Beginning spring 2016, some CHEM 1110 courses will add a “recitation” section to the classroom time currently devoted only to lectures. The recitation section will allow students to complete practice exercises during class and will emphasize small group collaborations.

The chemistry revitalization pilot is set to take place at the Blount County and Division Street campuses.

Students present ‘mate poaching’ talk at psychology conference


Human “mate poaching” was the topic of a presentation by two Pellissippi State students at the Middle Tennessee Psychology Association in late April.

Deana Richards and Minnie Stombaugh, students in Greg Duthey’s General Psychology class, presented the lecture, at which they discussed the phenomenon of one person’s “poaching” another person who is already in a committed relationship.

“‘Poaching’ is the term used to describe hunting done out of season,” Richards said. “If you poach a mate, they’re not in season, because they’re already taken.”

In their presentation, Richards and Stombaugh discussed the gender implications of mate poaching. In male-dominated cultures in which women are discouraged from speaking out, there is a high incidence of men who mate poach, they said. Richards suggests that the phenomenon is quite common in the United States.

“It happens to a lot of people, even if we don’t use the term ‘mate poaching,’” Richards said. “You know, you’ll hear ‘He stole my girlfriend’ or ‘She stole my boyfriend.’ It statistically seems to be common in North America.”

Presenting at the MTPA conference was a new experience for both Richards and Stombaugh.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” Richards said. “I think I made myself more anxious than I need to be. But everyone was very supportive and intrigued.”

“Although I have much experience speaking before large groups, I still get nervous,” Stombaugh said. “I’ve learned the more prepared I am, the less stressful it seems.”

“I’m so proud of them,” said Duthey, an adjunct faculty member. “It was like seeing your kids succeed.”

Several other students from his classes also attended the conference: Jan Conley, Sarah Hagy, Paul Jenkins, Hannah Keech, Tobias Vowell and Natalie Williams.

New Alumni Association kicked off with luncheon


The College launched a brand-new Alumni Association with a kickoff luncheon April 30 at the Hardin Valley Campus.

The luncheon was attended by 80 alumni, including two from the first graduating class in 1976. A highlight of the event was recognition of Trevis Gardner, vice president of operations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, with Pellissippi State’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni award.

“Pellissippi State is the place it is today because of our students, graduates and alumni,” Anthony Wise, Pellissippi State president, told the group. “We hope the College was instrumental to your success, as each and every one of our students and alumni have been instrumental to our success. Our alumni do amazing things in this community, and we’re very proud of them.”

“We were pleased to welcome so many alumni for this luncheon,” said Angela Pugh, development coordinator and an alumni contact, “as we roll out new benefits to alumni, in addition to alumni access to services like career placement or to our Student Recreation Center or library.”

To learn more about alumni benefits and ways alumni can get involved, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni or call Angela Pugh at 539.7275.

Counseling Services hosts Monday Fun Day for students, faculty, staff


May the Fourth be with you.

Counseling Services is hosting Monday Fun Day today, May 4, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Courtyard on the Hardin Valley Campus. The event is meant to help students, faculty and staff de-stress during finals week.

The event features visits from HABIT [Human Animal Bond in Tennessee] dogs, as well as sidewalk chalk, bubbles, hula hoops and other ways to relax. Some activities will be themed around the Star Wars franchise, commonly celebrated on May 4.

For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/counseling.

College-hosted VISTA volunteers work to improve community

Pellissippi State has been host to five AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteers this past academic year, and those volunteers have spent months reaching out to community partners in support of food access, environmental stewardship, and community schools. Here’s a little bit about each VISTA volunteer’s service experience:

Nicole Lewis, Great Schools Partnership

“I’ve spent the past few months building bridges between community partners and Pellissippi State students seeking volunteer opportunities,” Lewis said. As part of Great Schools Partnership, Lewis does a good deal of work with community schools, or schools in the Knox County Schools system with an integrated focus on academics, supportive health and social services, and community development to improve learning and strengthen families.

Originally from Virginia, she fell in love with community service while a student at George Mason University.

“I became involved with the campus Habitat for Humanity. It opened my world and I found out that I wanted to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector.” When her year as a VISTA ends in August, Lewis will continue working for the Great Schools Partnership.

Caley Hyatt, Knoxville Permaculture Guild

“At the Knoxville Permaculture Guild,” said Hyatt, “I’ve been planning workshops in the Park Ridge community, where there’s a community garden. We’re helping people there integrate permaculture principles into their neighborhood. We hope it will wake people up to the possibilities of permaculture by focusing our efforts on one community.” Permaculture is an approach to sustainability that has as its core principles care for the earth, care for people and a return of surplus into the ecosystem.

Hyatt, who hails from Bristol, has been in Knoxville since 2011. She’s an RN and has worked at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, but she entered Pellissippi State’s AmeriCorps VISTA program to pursue her passion for community health and food access.

“So many people lack basic access to things like healthy food. I’m really passionate about that. After this year as a VISTA is over, I’d like to go back to school in student ecology, perhaps teach and continue working in the community.”

Elias Attea, University Assisted Community School at Pond Gap Elementary School

“Since the community garden here was founded in 2013,” Attea said, “we’ve strived to integrate the garden with the school’s culture. It’s a lot of work to communicate with school staff, develop programming, recruit and manage volunteers, remember every child’s name, and meet with parents, plus take care of a close-to-a-third-of-an-acre garden. But at the end of the day, I’m excited about what I do.”

This year, Attea has overseen a new initiative in “therapeutic horticulture.” He works with Pond Gap’s school counselor to offer children behavioral opportunities in the garden, providing them a place to recalibrate from the stresses of school.

Attea hopes to stay on at Pond Gap long enough to get the next Pellissippi State VISTA acclimated, then return to his home in the Southwest. He says he might pursue a career in teaching or in horticultural therapy.

Jennifer Hurst, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee

“I work as a rural liaison, helping expand Second Harvest’s capacity in rural communities to improve emergency food assistance,” said Hurst. “I try to plug in Pellissippi State Service-Learning student volunteers to help with this goal, particularly in a new program called Healthy Harvest, which will distribute produce from Second Harvest’s garden and from local farmers’ markets.”

Hurst has a family tradition of community service: her grandmother served in both AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, and her mother encouraged Hurst to attend political volunteer events.

“When I was looking for a change in my life, it was only natural to look to AmeriCorps.” Hurst’s plan when her volunteer stint is over? “When my VISTA year is up, I’ll probably go to Disneyland.”

Charlotte Rodina, The Center for Urban Agriculture at Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum

“I’ve spent time organizing volunteer days at the Knoxville Botanical Garden to get healthy food to nearby residents,” Rodina said. “We are located in a food desert, so the gardens are really concerned about food access and being able to get healthy food. Having access to fresh and healthy food is a human right, so I love working with people to help them to grow their own.”

Rodina also will spend time in the coming months at the Hardin Valley Campus establishing a community garden. That vegetable garden will be run by volunteers and will be open to classroom use. Food from the garden will be served in the Cafeteria and also donated.

The Virginia native is a newcomer to Knoxville and formerly worked as a journalist.

The VISTA volunteers are sponsored by Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program, www.pstcc.edu/service-learning.

Celebrate Earth Week with speakers, contests and giveaways

Pellissippi State has a jam-packed schedule of events for Earth Week, beginning Monday, April 20.

“We’ve had such a great response to Earth Day events in past years,” said Karen Lively, sustainable campus coordinator, “that we’re very excited to offer a whole week’s worth of events, with some on each of our five campuses. This gives all of our students, faculty and staff the ability to participate.”

Events, dates and times are listed below. All events are at the Hardin Valley Campus unless otherwise specified. A full Earth Week schedule of events at all campuses is available at www.pstcc.edu/sustainability/earthday.

Monday, April 20:

  • Sustainable Campus Initiative—11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium. Speaker Melissa Lapsa presents an overview of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s sustainable campus initiative.
  • Meatless Monday Information Table—11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Goins Building Rotunda

Tuesday, April 21:

  • “Inhabit” Film Screening—10:30-11:30 a.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium. Popcorn is served; prizes and giveaways are available in the Rotunda. Knoxville Permaculture Guild members answer questions immediately following the film.
  • Snack Pack—1:30-3 p.m. on the first floor of the McWherter Building. Free organic snacks and juices are available to students.
  • “Making Tap Water Sexy and Available”—12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Magnolia Avenue Campus. Joshua Cunningham of the Tennessee Clean Water Network is speaking.

Wednesday, April 22:

  • Earth Day Exhibit—10 a.m.-1 p.m., featuring remarks by President Anthony Wise and a performance by Hardin Valley Thunder. Exhibitors include student clubs, local businesses and nonprofits, craft stations, and e-cycling collection. Attendees can expect giveaways, including Earth Week T-shirts, and prizes for students, plus cake and popsicles.
  • “Bug Me. Really. Please Bug Me!”—11-noon at the Division Street Campus. Speaker Janice Gangwer, a University of Tennessee Extension master gardener, speaks about beneficial insects.
  • Todd Montgomery, Elephant Sanctuary—2-3 p.m. in the Cafeteria Annex. Montgomery speaks about the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald.
  • Climate Change Presentation—1-2:30 p.m. in the West Auditorium of the Blount County Campus. Speaker Tom Werkema of Arkema Inc. discusses the current understanding of the science of climate change. Werkema is an internationally known expert on climate change and ozone depletion and was recognized for his contribution to the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Thursday, April 23:

  • “Plant Your Seed in the Growing Field of ‘Green’ Careers”—Noon-1 in the Goins Building Auditorium. Speaker Scott Hacker of Trane Commercial Systems presents on the careers available in sustainability industries. Popcorn and giveaways are offered.
  • Student, Faculty and Staff Recycle Sorting Contest—11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Courtyard

Friday, April 24:

  • National Arbor Day—10-11 a.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium. Certified arborist David Vandergriff speaks. Students can make pine cone birdfeeders in the Rotunda before and during the presentation. Prizes and popcorn are available.
  • Historic Seedling Giveaway—10-noon in the first-floor middle lobby of the Alexander Building

For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/sustainability/earthday.

Bill and Sharon Brewer endowment now in place

In memory of Bill Brewer and in honor of his wife, Sharon, the Pellissippi State Foundation has made available the Bill and Sharon Brewer Music Scholarship.

The fund is set up for online giving at https://giving.pstcc.edu or by bringing a check to Pellissippi State Foundation offices.

The endowed scholarship will be awarded each year to a Music major with a GPA of 2.75 or higher. The funds disbursed to the student will vary depending on the amount of scholarship money available.

Bill Brewer, the program coordinator of Music at Pellissippi State, passed away in late March after a battle with cancer.

“This scholarship honors Bill’s legacy as an enthusiastic teacher and a talented musical voice,” said Peggy Wilson, executive director of the Foundation and vice president of College Advancement. “Bill was dedicated to his students, and we hope this scholarship helps carry on his incredible gift of encouragement and his commitment to excellence.”