History of the Blount County Campus
Pellissippi State, known as State Technical Institute at Knoxville, began offering courses in Blount County as early as 1985, utilizing area high school facilities in the evenings only. The average enrollment was approximately 100 students per term, with the highest number enrolled in the fall term of 1986, when 219 students were enrolled in evening classes at Maryville High School. According to a market research study conducted by Butler-Ackermann in 1986, area residents strongly favored a permanent community college campus located in Blount County, offering a full range of day and evening courses as well as comprehensive student services.
Union School Location
Early in 1988, responding to the needs expressed by the Blount County community, a 5-year lease agreement was negotiated with Blount County schools for the college to share the former Union Elementary School building with the Blount County Girls Club and to use it as a comprehensive teaching site for day and evening classes. Also, the same year, State Tech became Pellissippi State, expanding its mission to include university parallel programs, and all courses were converted from quarters to semesters to synchronize programs with UT-K and other area colleges.
Union Renovations - Blount County First
However, no state funds were available for renovating the former elementary school which had been vacant for several years, so Pellissippi State turned to the community to finance the renovations. The PSCC Foundation implemented the Blount County First fund-raising campaign, which was based on the belief that Blount Countians would be the first to come forward with support if asked for help. Within the first two months of the campaign, cash and in-kind donations of over $250,000 were committed by individuals and by the business and industrial community. Renovations were completed during the summer, and classes were offered at the Union School location in the fall of 1988 with an initial enrollment of 500 students.
Community response was extremely positive, and, with a year, enrollment nearly doubled, with over 900 students enrolled in the fall 1989. In October, when the Levi's plant in Blount County closed, employees were laid off with little warning, and the college responded quickly with some non-credit training programs and GED preparation courses. About 100 of the former Levi's workers eventually enrolled in degree credit programs.
The facilities at the Union location were quickly at capacity, and it was necessary to add six portable classrooms and convert a classroom into a science lab as well as to continue to use classrooms at a local high school for evening classes.
Bungalow School Location - Permanent Home Opportunity
In 1991, the community offered to donate the former Bungalow Elementary School facilities as a permanent home for PSCC programs. The Bungalow property, situated on 18.5 acres near the industrial park and visible from Alcoa Highway, was ideal for establishing facilities for community college programs.
Bungalow Renovations - Blount County First, Again
However, state funding was still unavailable in 1991, and the college again appealed to the community for assistance. For the second time in three years, Blount Countians responded quickly and generously: over $250,000 was committed to the "Blount County First" fund for renovating the Bungalow property. Enrollment continued to grow to over 1400 students in the fall of 1991, with classes available at both Union and Bungalow during the first year while renovations were in progress.
Initial renovations at Bungalow were supported by donations from the three local governments (Alcoa City, Maryville City, and Blount County), individuals in the community, and from area business and industry. Major renovations included upgrading utilities systems (telephones, electricity, water, and sewage), repairing the roof, replacing broken windows, installing window air conditioners, upgrading paved areas and sidewalks, and adding gravel parking.
Significant renovations were also needed to design instructional space and install computer equipment. Specialized instructional areas included a double-size learning center, science lab, computer lab, faculty offices, reading lab, ITFS classroom, and continuing education classroom. Student counseling and other support services areas included a full-service bookstore, student lounge, admissions counseling, technical services (cashier and records), and faculty office space.
Upgrade from Site to Center Status - Enrollment and Program Stability
In 1992, all PSCC Blount County programs were centralized at the Bungalow location, and enrollment was stable at 1300 students. In addition, the Tennessee Board of Regents officially upgraded Blount County program status from site to center in recognition of achieving the enrollment requirement of 50 full-time equivalent students and for offering complete associate degree program requirements. The Blount County location for PSCC programs was no longer referred to as the Bungalow teaching site but as the PSCC Blount Center.
Comprehensive Programs & Services
The Blount County Center supports an enrollment of approximately 1000 students per semester, 16 full-time faculty, 60-80 adjunct faculty, and 10 full-time and part-time staff. All service areas of the college are represented including student counseling, financial aid, registration, bookstore, and student activities. Full academic programs for university parallel majors as well as most initial general education courses in career tech programs are available at Blount County Center.
Blount County Campus Construction on Schedule
The Blount County Campus remains on schedule to offer the first classes in the 2010 fall semester, and the Pellissippi State Foundation has raised more than $1.85 million toward its completion.
The two-story, 70,485-square-foot building has space for the College's new Nursing program, as well as for science and computer labs and classrooms, including one for distance education.
Offices and a manufacturing training center, physical education facility, 100-seat auditorium, library and student lounge are all part of the design.
The new campus can accommodate more than 1,500 students. More than 1,800 from Blount County are now enrolled at Pellissippi State. Plans for a walking trail, amphitheater and courtyard with a fountain also are on the board.
Funding for the $22 million state-of-the-art campus comes from the state, sale of the old Blount County Center property in Alcoa and private donations generated through the Connecting Communities, Changing Lives Major Gifts Campaign. The fundraising effort, conducted by the Pellissippi State Foundation, has earmarked the Blount County Campus as a top priority. The campaign goal is a minimum $2 million of the project. Gifts and pledges to date for Blount County are $1,855,240.
The College broke ground in May 2008 on the 39.5-acre site, located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway (U.S. Highway 321) near Friendsville.
New Campus Opens
The building was completed in the summer of 2010 and was celebrated with an Open House ceremony with the public invited.