JSCC announces final plans for fall semester

The administration of Jackson State Community College has announced three versions of instruction that will be utilized during the fall semester. Faculty will use the three options to provide the high-quality learning experience Jackson State students expect while promoting a safe environment for students and employees. The three options include online classes, FLEX, and hybrid.

FLEX – Classes labeled FLEX will be taught at scheduled times through live-streaming using videoconferencing software (such as Zoom) provided by the college. Classes will meet online at scheduled days and times. Students will submit assignments and will have access to class materials through D2L (eLearn). FLEX classes are designed for those students who prefer a more traditional face-to-face classroom experience. Students will be able to talk with their professors, participate in class discussions, and enjoy group activities.

Online – Classes labeled Online are taught through the D2L (eLearn) system. Students can log in and complete assignments at times scheduled by the professor. Classes do not have assigned meeting days or times. Online classes are a great option for those students who cannot commit to attending class at a particular time. Students are able to work around job schedules and family responsibilities by completing coursework when it fits their schedule each week.

Hybrid – Classes labeled Hybrid will be taught using a combination of online or FLEX and small group settings on campus at scheduled days and times. Hybrid classes are designed for labs and skill-based courses (primarily limited to nursing, health sciences, engineering systems, organic chemistry, computer information technology) that require some in-person activities and training. The small-group settings will be conducted with required masks and appropriate distancing measures in place.

Registration for fall classes is available now, and students can apply for admission to the college by going to the admissions page at the Jackson State website,www.jscc.edu/apply, or by calling 731-425-8844. The fall term begins on August 24.

TSBDC Jackson celebrates local Rising Star award

On Tuesday, June 23, the TSBDC Jackson Center awarded the owners of LD2 Consignment and Jewelry the Rising Star award. Co-owners Leah and Lesley Daniel purchased the business in 2017 with the assistance and guidance of the TSBDC.

According to Monique Merriweather, director of the TSBDC Jackson Center, the business receiving this award has taken the advice and counsel offered to them by the TSBDC. The business has a well thought out business plan, a successful business model, and are profitable.

“Leah and Lesley have led the way in small business and are taking the Jackson area and surrounding counties by storm with their innovation and willingness to help others,” said Merriweather. “We are proud of their enthusiasm and accomplishments over the past 3 years and wish them continued success.”

In May 2017, Leah and Lesley Daniel, with the help of the TSBDC Center – Jackson State Community College, purchased the M&M Consignment Shop on Vann Drive, in Jackson, Tennessee. They were able to secure a $55,000 SBA loan and the seller financed the $10,000 balance. The store opened in August 2017 after completing all of the renovations themselves. Two new jobs were created and three jobs retained.

Within 6 months, the store became a destination and the name was changed to LD2 Consignment and Jewelry. Leah and Lesley spent considerable time changing the concept of the business by accepting only quality merchandise for consignment. It did not take long for them to build a strong customer base. The volume in 2018 was $285,000; in 2019 it was $375,000.

In September of 2019, Leah’s and Lesley’s success enabled them to fulfill a dream of opening a store in downtown Jackson. Their goal was to make this store so unique that it would inspire others to move into the downtown area. They renovated a building with a $12,000 equity investment and created LD2 Market Shoppes that offers booths to mostly home-based businesses.

The downtown “Shoppes” opened in November of 2019 with 28 vendors. Today, this number is in excess of 70 vendors with room to add more. LD2 also provides its vendors with business services by recording the sales and paying sales taxes for the businesses.

Eventually, the plan is to add a coffee shop and to create an environment where people can relax and hang out before or after shopping. Leah and Lesley are still excited at the prospects of their downtown venture and look forward to many years of growth in the area.

Courses offer insight into “Black experience” in America

Each fall, Jackson State Community College’s divisions of Communication and Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences offers HIST 2060: African American History and ENGL 2055: African American Literature, two courses that are particularly relevant to our social and cultural moment.

Professors Tammy Prater and Anna Esquivel feel that education is the best way to offer support and assist the community with understanding the current national crisis. “Students and community members may find themselves struggling to feel informed. Both of these courses offer an opportunity to understand our great American experiment in the context of Racial injustice,” said Prater.

“This is an opportunity to learn more about the Black experience in America and explore how Black arts, letters, theories, critiques, demonstrations, movements, inventions, leadership, and labor have shaped American society and democracy,” stated Esquivel.

Tammy Prater, Associate Professor of History, will teach African American History (HIST2060) that begins with the African experience before there were European colonies in North America. The course will explore the first Africans landing in North America in 1619 (one year before the Pilgrims) and follow them through lives of indentured servitude, then enslavement, and a continuous struggle for freedom and the rights of citizens. In a nation founded on the idea that “All men are created equal,” there will be an analysis of the continuing struggle for a nation to live up to that promise. The course will also explore the lives and works of Anthony Johnson, Denmark Vesey, Dred Scott, Frederick Douglass, Madame C.J. Walker, Ida B. Wells, A. Philip Randolph, Septima Clark, Emmet Till, The Scotsboro Boys, Angela Davis, Thurgood Marshall, and many others.

Anna Esquivel, Associate Professor of English, will teach a survey of African American Literature (ENGL2055), which emphasizes an exploration of African American literary identity through an examination of literary trends, themes, and historical and political contexts. In this course, we will ask questions such as: How do rap and hip-hop reflect the oral traditions of early African cultures? What do works by African American writers teach us about American culture, its history, and its politics? How do poetry, fiction, and non-fiction writing by African American writers reflect the inner lives of the artists as well as the cultural, social, and political environments in which they strive, thrive, and struggle? The course will explore the works of writers such as WEB DuBois, Anna Julia Cooper, James Weldon Johnson, Helene Johnson, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Colson Whitehead, Audre Lorde, and many others.

There will be opportunities for the community to participate by reading common works and engaging in online discussions with the professors and the students of African American Literature and African American History. For more information, please email tprater2@jscc.edu and/or aesquivel@jscc.edu.

JSCC Faculty issue statement on diversity and social equity

As our nation reacts to the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Jackson State faculty acknowledge the pain that so many in our campus community are experiencing. Social and economic inequities that result from racial injustice create real and seemingly insurmountable barriers to learning for our students. As faculty, we know that educating students about the contributions Black people have made to American life and democracy is both empowering and critical to making change. The history of dissent and resistance to injustices led by people of color, and the recent movement that continues that work, make us a stronger nation and a better people.

Jackson State faculty educate a diverse group of students, and we remain committed to fostering a space of creativity, learning, questioning, and support on our campus. We encourage honest conversations and respectful relationships in our classrooms, and we believe in the power of community voices combining for the greater good. The fight for social equity is far from over, but the faculty at Jackson State Community College resolve to create the conditions under which all students can thrive.

JSCC administration commits to social equity amid social unrest

In light of the social unrest that is playing out across the country and the world, the administration of Jackson State Community College acknowledges and reaffirms our commitment to justice and believes that the institution needs to take a more active role in addressing the racial inequities that exist in the communities of West Tennessee. Dr. George Pimentel, the newly appointed president of Jackson State, sees this as a top priority as he assumes the leadership position on July 1.

“The death of George Floyd and the resulting public response has made the issue of social injustice in our society an undeniable reality,” said Pimentel. “We must open a dialogue in our campus communities, acknowledge the legacy of systemic racism, and commit ourselves to make Jackson State Community College a place where every member of our community feels truly welcomed.”

Pimentel states that he is committed to the creation of an environment that promotes racial literacy. “We will work to have open discussions in our classrooms and to create intentional spaces for students to discuss these issues,” said Pimentel. “We must do everything we can to eliminate the vestiges of racism from our institutions and society.”

As an Achieving the Dream institution, Jackson State has worked on the premise of creating equity for its students so that the dream of educational success can be a reality for all students. Dr. Pimentel notes that the ideal of social equity will now take precedence in helping our students achieve their dreams of educational success.

The “Voice of Jackson State” signs off after 51 years with college

Margie Lester credits the beginning of her 51-year-relationship with Jackson State Community College to the late Marion Smothers.

He was Dean of Students when she went to register for classes at Jackson State in 1969. While registering, she realized she needed to pay a $5 fee. She didn’t have it.

“Mr. Smothers reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and handed me a $5 bill,” she said. “He never wanted me to pay him back. He was the first person who wanted me at Jackson State.”

Two years later, she graduated with her associate degree, and Chester Parham, who was in charge of the college’s public relations, hired her to be his secretary. Several years later, then President F.E. Wright asked her to be the college’s receptionist, which included working the main switchboard. Lester held that job for the rest of her career.

She officially retired May 31, but the 50-year-old memory of that $5 bill is one of many she’ll take with her.

“Jackson State has always meant a lot to me,” Lester said. Her memories include her one-day of training on a “monstrosity” of a switchboard, her friendship with Dr. Walter Nelms (who retired as President in 1997), the teachers, the coaches and the many students who stopped by her desk to ask for directions or for answers to other questions.

“I wanted the students to have someone they could come to and get help,” she said. “I would give anything to see some of those students again.”

Lester ran the switchboard in the days before call waiting and voicemail. Four telephone lines came into the switchboard, and if four people were on the phone, the caller got a busy signal. It was up to Lester to connect the incoming caller to the right office. She wrote down messages and left them on people’s office doors.

She never tired of her job, she said. “It was so different then. I knew every office extension by memory.”

She’s been called “the Voice of Jackson State,” because it is her voice that you hear when you call the college.

Lester grew up on the UT Experiment Station where her dad, Joe Allen Mays, was a farmer. She has two children, Jeffrey and Jeremy, who are fraternal twins. Jeffrey and his wife, Tori, have two sons. Jeremy and his wife, Julia, have two boys and a girl.

She hasn’t made any concrete plans now that she has retired. She’s looking forward to spending more time with family; at Hillcrest Baptist Church, which she has attended her whole life; and with her neighbors.

Retiring was hard, Lester said. “I never wanted to leave all of those years. But, it’s time.”

TBR appoints George Pimentel as next President of Jackson State Community College

The Tennessee Board of Regents today appointed Dr. George J. Pimentel as the next president of Jackson State Community College, effective July 1. A U.S. Army infantry veteran, he has been vice president of academic affairs at Volunteer State Community College since 2014 and has 26 years of teaching and academic administrative experience.

The Board also appointed Brian Lapps Jr. as its next general counsel, serving the Board and the College System of Tennessee – the state’s 40 community and technical colleges governed by the Board of Regents. He has 27 years of experience as an attorney in public and private practice, including his current role as division counsel at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and previously as deputy general counsel at the University of Tennessee.

TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recommended the two new administrators following separate, months-long national search processes that included Board members and, at Jackson State, representatives of various campus constituencies and the broader community.

As the sixth president in Jackson State’s 53 years of serving students, Pimentel will succeed Dr. Allana Hamilton, who was appointed the College System of Tennessee’s vice chancellor of academic affairs last fall, and Dr. Jeff Sisk, who has served as interim president and remains president of the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology in Jackson and Whiteville.

“I never imagined that I would become a college president when I began my career over 25 years ago, and I am honored and grateful to the Chancellor and the Board for trusting me with this opportunity,” Pimentel said. “I’m looking forward to working with Jackson State faculty and staff as we continue to help our students overcome barriers to education and unlock their potential.”

“This is an unprecedented time; students now more than ever need the opportunities that community college can provide through workforce development, collaborative partnerships and educational opportunities. Together, I believe we can make a real difference in people’s lives, and in their communities, and I am excited to engage with community and business leaders as we work together to make that happen.

“I also want to thank Dr. Jerry Faulkner and the Vol State faculty and staff for their support, and for their unwavering commitment to student success. Vol State was my home for twenty years and it will always hold a special place in my heart,” Pimentel said.

He earned his Doctor of Arts in History, Educational Specialist, Master of Arts in History and Bachelor of Arts in History degrees at Middle Tennessee State University. He began his higher education career in 1994 as MTSU’s coordinator of continuing education, then as assistant to the dean of the university’s College of Liberal Arts. He was also an adjunct professor of history there.

Pimentel moved to Volunteer State in 2001 as a professor of history, and continued teaching during his tenures as chair of the Department of History, Economics, Geography and Political Science from 2005 to 2009 and as director of the honors program from 2011 to 2014 when he was elevated to the college’s chief academic officer as vice president of academic affairs.

Jackson State is a comprehensive community college with its main campus in Jackson and three branch centers in Humboldt, Lexington and Savannah serving 14 West Tennessee counties. Fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), it is an Achieving the Dream college committed to student success. It enrolls nearly 5,000 credit students, including more than 1,200 dual-enrolled high school students.

Lapps earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence at the Vanderbilt University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in History at the University of Notre Dame. At TBR, he will lead a staff of attorneys at the system office in Nashville.

“I’d Iike to thank the Board, Chancellor Tydings and the Search Committee for their confidence in me,” he said. “This is an exciting opportunity. I look forward to working with the Chancellor, her staff, the system office, and the campuses as we help make a difference for TBR students and the State of Tennessee.”

Lapps began his law career in 1993 at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis in Nashville, where he was a partner from 2001 to 2009 when he was appointed deputy general counsel of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He returned to Nashville in 2018 as division counsel at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His career includes extensive labor and employment, litigation and higher education law and management experience.

Tydings thanked members of the search advisory committees who assisted in the search for the two new leaders.

Tennessee Board of Regents to meet June 2 to consider appointment of next president of Jackson State Community College. Committee Chairs and Audit Committee will also meet

The Tennessee Board of Regents will convene a special called meeting Tuesday, June 2, to receive and act on recommendations by Chancellor Flora W. Tydings for the next president of Jackson State Community College and the board’s next general counsel.

The virtual meeting will be streamed live and archived on the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/board/june-2-2020-special-called-board-meeting starting at 8:30 a.m. CT, with consideration of the two appointments the only items on the agenda.

After the board meeting adjourns, the chairs of the board’s standing committees will convene for several informational items and review of the draft agenda for the Board of Regents’ next regular quarterly meeting June 18-19. And the board’s Audit Committee will meet at 10:30 a.m., also to receive informational reports.

The meetings are open to the public as observers, except for an executive session of the Audit Committee following the committee’s public segment. Contact Board Secretary Sonja Mason at sonja.mason@tbr.edu by 4 p.m. Monday, June 1, for call-in information.

The chancellor’s recommendation to the board for the next president of Jackson State follows open forums conducted online May 11-13 by the three finalists for the presidency. The finalists were announced Feb. 28 by a 17-member search advisory committee composed of board members and campus and community representatives. On-campus forums were originally scheduled to be held in March but were postponed to May and moved online as the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed on-campus activities.

The finalists, their resumes’ and the archived forums are posted on the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/hr/executivesearches/president-jackson-state-community-college.

The next president will succeed Dr. Allana Hamilton, who moved to the system office as vice-chancellor of Academic Affairs last fall, and Dr. Jeff Sisk, who has served as the interim president of Jackson State since October. Sisk is president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology campuses in Jackson and Whiteville.

The next general counsel will succeed Mary Moody, who retired last September after 29 years of state service as an attorney, and Christine Modisher, Moody’s predecessor who returned to serve as interim general counsel during the search.

The agenda for the committee chairs meeting includes presentations on campus re-opening plans, proposed budgets and capital appropriation requests and compensation plans for Fiscal Year 2020-21, and executive performance incentive and president emeritus plans, and review of the draft agenda for the June 18-19 quarterly board meeting.

The Audit Committee agenda includes informational reporting on audit reports, findings and recommendations.

Sisk proud of JSCC response during COVID-19 crisis

When the COVID-19 scare hit the community while Jackson State Community College was on spring break, the faculty and staff adapted the college from an “on-ground” campus to an “online” campus in less than two weeks.

Interim President Dr. Jeff Sisk couldn’t have been prouder.

“They managed to keep the interests of students first, and they continued to offer excellent instruction,” he said. “I am incredibly proud of how the faculty and staff made that quick pivot from on-ground to online.”

He is equally proud of how the students responded.

“I learned how smart and resilient young people are today,” he said. “It was an eye-opener. Students were willing and able to tackle the challenge of online learning.” At one point, he said, he watched his son, who just finished up his freshman year at Jackson State, do a class activity on his smartphone.

In some ways, the shift to having all classes online was easier for a campus like Jackson State, which already had the experience of offering online courses, Dr. Sisk said. “Every faculty member has taught or knows how to teach online. This was a total effort that involved department heads down to instructors.”

Dr. Sisk, who is also President of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) campuses in Jackson and Whiteville, saw the same effort by staff, faculty and students on those campuses.

Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Chancellor Flora W. Tydings named Dr. Sisk Interim President last fall when then-President Allana Hamilton accepted a position with the Board of Regents. The search for a new Jackson State president was nearing its end when the virus hit.

After months of work, the search committee had narrowed applicants from more than 60 to three finalists – Dr. George Pimentel, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Volunteer State Community College; Dr. Paige Neihaus, Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Executive Director of Design Center, Wayne County Community College District in Detroit, Mich.; and Dr. Jeff Jochems, President/Vice Chancellor, Ozarks Technical Community College Richwood Valley Campus in Nixa, Mo. (For more information on the final candidates, visit jscc.edu.)

A live open forum on YouTube gave faculty, staff, students, and others the opportunity to meet the candidates and ask questions. Instead of on-campus visits, each finalist had virtual meetings with campus constituencies. TBR Chancellor Tydings is going through feedback from these groups on each finalist before making her recommendation to the Board of Regents. The Board has scheduled a special called meeting on June 2 to consider her recommendation. The goal, said Dr. Sisk, is to have a new president on campus by July 1.

He looks forward to working with whomever is named Jackson State president. “I am excited about the transition.”

Juggling the responsibilities of two TCAT campuses and Jackson State has been a challenge, but one that he relished. “I couldn’t have done it, though, without the leadership teams on each campus.”

Jackson State is continuing to keep the coronavirus in mind as it plans for contingencies on the way students will be taught, Dr. Sisk said. May was an online semester, while summer classes will have a hybrid approach of online classes with limited learning on the campus. Dr. Sisk said.

Plans now are for a traditional semester in the fall, he added. “But we’re ready to shift back to online learning if necessary. We’ll adapt and adjust.”

TCAT students started returning to campus May 18 to find wearing face masks and social distancing in place, staggered labs, and other adjustments to learning. “We are learning how to resequence teaching academic competencies (which can be done online) and hands-on competencies, Dr. Sisk said.

Some programs, such as welding at TCAT or advanced maintenance technology at Jackson State, require hands-on learning. During the coronavirus pandemic, campuses had to focus on what competencies could be done online and “what competencies we needed to wait on” until students could get into a lab, he explained.

The last few months also highlighted the importance of technical and community colleges, Dr. Sisk said. “Take a look at the essential skills and workers needed during the pandemic – EMTs, RNs and LPNs, police officers, maintenance technicians in factories, truck drivers, IT specialists … Our community and technical colleges train and teach people for these professions. This pandemic has shone a positive light on the essential skills needed during a crisis like this.”

The possibility of leading Jackson State Community College someday was nowhere in his thoughts, Dr. Sisk said, when he attended Jackson State in the late 1980s and early 1990s to earn his associate degree. Leading a campus through perhaps the worst medical emergency in our lifetimes was also not on the horizon when Dr. Sisk became Interim President last Oct. 16.

“The best lesson we all learned is that we can do this; we can adapt and still have excellent instruction. The efficacy of our efforts was positive across the board for staff, faculty, and students. I take zero credit for that; the success was due to the leadership on all three campuses.”

“It has been an honor” to help lead Jackson State through its search for a new president and its reaction to the coronavirus, Dr. Sisk said. “I couldn’t be more proud of this college.”

JSCC faculty release the Honors Program Reading Recommendations

The honors program of Jackson State Community College has published a list of faculty-recommended books for students, staff, and peers to read over the summer break. This year’s list is made up of 24 selections.

“The ‘Honors Program Summer Reading Recommendations’ was created as a not so subtle way to encourage students to read more books,” said Dr. Bob Raines, honors program coordinator. “We believe reading can be a profoundly enriching experience, a worthwhile leisure activity, and a valid way to pursue knowledge and understanding about our physical, social, and psychological worlds.”

The list is compiled at the beginning of the spring semester with faculty members submitting their recommendations. Copies of all books on the list are purchased by the JSCC Library and are available to be checked out.

“This is an interesting way to get to know more about our colleagues by having a window into their reading preferences,” said Raines. “It has become my go-to list when I am looking for the next book to read.”

Check out the JSCC 2020 Summer Reading List Now!