Tennessee Receiving Grant To Boost College Degree Completions

Tennessee was named one of only three states selected to receive a grant valued at $1 million to increase on-time college completion rates.

The grant supports the states higher education reform efforts that help students finish a degree in two years from a community college and in four years from a university, saving time and money, and ensuring a higher rate of success.

The award enhances Governor Bill Haslams Drive to 55 initiative to encourage more Tennesseans to earn a college degree or workforce certificate.

Currently, only 32 percent of Tennesseans have certificates or degrees beyond high school, and studies show that by 2025, that number must be 55 percent to meet workforce demands, Gov. Bill Haslam said. Our Drive to 55 initiative is focused on increasing the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials, and this grant will support efforts to help students save time and money as they pursue their degrees.

At most of Tennessees four-year schools, it takes students almost five years to earn a bachelors degree and almost four years to earn a degree at a two-year community college.

The three-year grant will come in cash and technical assistance from the Lumina Foundation for Education and in partnership with Complete College America. It will help the states community colleges and the six universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system continue their efforts to create Guided Pathways to Success. The program is designed to help students, many of whom are overwhelmed by choice and too much flexibility in course offerings.

The GPS programs are highly structured and clearly sequenced degree plans that help students understand the best and shortest paths to get them to graduation and to earn a degree. The programs will be designed by college advisers and faculty to ensure quality and value tailored to the campuses and their students.

The colleges will provide intensive advising, clear degree plans and paths of sequenced courses necessary for success; use predictive analytics technology to match students with the courses best suited for them; and then guarantee the courses will be available when needed to enable on-time graduation.

Students may also participate in cohort groups that move the same group of students along in the same schedule of courses to encourage learning communities, or block scheduling so students always know the hours when the courses they need are available. A variety of plans and programs are being developed as part of the GPS project.

We know the longer it takes a student to finish a degree, the less likely it is that he or she will stay on the path to graduation, said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan. If we are serious about increasing the number of Tennesseans with a certificate or degree, we need to do all we can to make sure students are successful when they enroll. The program this grant supports is designed to do that.

The Tennessee Board of Regents governs six of the states regional public universities Austin Peay State University, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech University and the University of Memphis; all 13 of Tennessees community colleges; and the 27 colleges of applied technology across the state. The TBR has piloted some structured learning programs at the community colleges and pioneered the use of predictive analytics tools, both of which have demonstrated dramatic success among those students who chose to participate. The GPS program will eventually make participation automatic for everyone.

‘The work being undertaken by Governor Haslam and the Tennessee Board of Regents represents some of the most substantial and sweeping reforms in American higher education to date,’ said Complete College America President Stan Jones. ‘These efforts, combined with the Drive to 55 initiative, strengthen the state’s standing as a national leader in boosting college completion and unlock clear strategies for how Tennessee can address its workforce needs in the future. We look forward to working with Governor Haslam and Chancellor Morgan to ensure many more students have a clear pathway to graduation day.’

The first year of the grant will involve planning to move successful programs to scale across the state and to develop a policy framework to support the GPS concept. By Fall 2016, most of the students in the most essential programs of study at most of the states public colleges and universities will be incorporating the GPS program.

Tennessee will continue to be a national leader as we address the college completion crisis in this country, said Haslam. Our higher education systems have embraced these reform efforts, and we expect to see impressive results.

Jackson State Players Sign to Four-Year Programs

Jackson State Community College Athletics held a signing ceremony for five of its baseball players that will be moving on to four-year baseball programs at other area colleges and universities. These players have been a valued asset to the Generals program and have been signed early to other programs.

Today is a big day for our program, said Head Coach Tyson Malik. We have five guys that have committed to continue their baseball careers at different universities in this early signing period. This is a testament to the work they have put in with their time at Jackson State. These five young men have an outstanding work ethic and are exceptional examples on the baseball field.

The five players signing letters of intent were Taylor Walker, Zach Tompkins, Colton Harris, Devin Presley and Clayton Smithson.

Taylor Walker, a 6’4′ 225 lb first baseman from Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro, TN has signed a Letter of Intent with the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. Southern Mississippi competes in Conference USA and has had tremendous success. Walker had a productive freshman season for the Generals last year where he hit .288, drove in 49 runs, and led the conference with 10 homeruns.

Zach Tompkins, an outstanding catcher from Mount Juliet High School in Mount Juliet, TN has signed to continue his career with Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN. Tompkins caught 39 games for the Generals last year, and was a 1st Team All-Conference player. Tompkins ability to handle the pitching staff, call a game, and control the running game are crucial for the Generals success in 2014. Tompkins hit .316 with 11 doubles and 4 home runs in 2013.

Colton Harris, originally from Dyer County High School came to Jackson State as a transfer from the University of Tennessee in 2013. He has signed to play his next two years in the Gulf South Conference at Union University in Jackson, TN. Harris was 8-4 last year for the Generals with a 3.35 ERA. He struck out 60 and walked only 17 in 86 innings pitched. Harris will be leaned on to lead the staff in 2014.

Devin Presley, a hard-throwing right-hander from Harpeth High School in Kingston Springs, TN has signed with the Tusculum Pioneers in the Southern Athletic Conference. Presley will play a huge role in the Generals success in 2014, after a solid freshman year where Presley was fourth on the staff in innings pitched with 34. Presley struck out 24 while only walking 9 batters.

Clayton Smithson, a sure handed shortstop from Hopkinsville, KY has committed to play for the Austin Peay Governors out of the Ohio Valley Conference. Austin Peay has a great tradition and has been to the regionals the last few years. Smithson started 48 games last year and will anchor the Generals infield again this year. He will be counted on to be a productive hitter at the top of the lineup and a leader for the team. The Generals are expecting a big year for Smithson at the plate and in the field.

Dr. William Seymour to Head Cleveland State Community College

At the quarterly TBR meeting on December 5 in Nashville, Chancellor John Morgan recommended Dr. William Seymours appointment to become the next president of Cleveland State Community College. The board votedunanimously to accept the chancellors recommendation.

Beginning January 2, 2014, Dr. Seymour will assume the office and responsibilities of president at Cleveland State. He will succeed Dr. Carl Hite who has been president at CSCC for the past 17 years. Dr. Seymour currently serves as vice president for Institutional Advancement at Jackson State Community College in Jackson, Tennessee.

During his time at Jackson State, Seymour designed and implemented the colleges new divisions of Student Services and Institutional Advancement as well as a new admissions recruitment program that resulted in the first increase in new student recruitment in three years. He also designed the colleges first comprehensive annual giving campaign and developed Jackson States first major complete college initiative.

Before joining Jackson State, Seymour was president of Lambuth University in Jackson for two years until the university ceased operations in 2011. He was a vice president for administrative services and dean of students during his time at Maryville (Tenn.) College from 1995 until being named president of Lambuth in 2009.

Prior to 1995, Seymour held administrative roles at Wesley College in Delaware, Austin College in Texas, and the University of Missouri-Columbia. He also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2004.

A member of several national higher education professional organizations, Seymour has also authored numerous publications and presentations. He holds a bachelors degree from the State University of New York College at Oswego, a masters of education degree in counseling and personnel services from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a Ph.D. in higher and adult education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He also attended the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management.

JSCC Christmas Float Wins First Place Trophy

A team of Jackson State coworkers and students presented a float in the City of Jackson Christmas parade Monday night, December 2. While there were many hours of work put into developing the concept and pulling all the resources together, the team achieved success by winning the first place trophy for the Civic category.

A team of Jackson State employees worked together over several weeks to build a float for the parade. Team leader Tracy Morton along with several others developed the float on the theme of Christmas through a childs eyes.

The float was set up to represent a house. Santas sleigh and reindeer were on the roof along with a rotating sign with the name of float: Twas the Night Before Christmas. In the house there were three areas that represented the telling of stories by the fireplace, playing games, and sleeping in wait for Santa to come. All of this was orchestrated to the Christmas music of Perry Como playing through the floats sound system.

Those riding on the float included Preston Turner and his daughter Greyson, Joy Weathers and her children Kayla and Cody Bryant and Leann Weathers, Tracy Mortons Daughter Emily, and Lisa Kincaids son Corey Creasey. Tracy Morton drove the truck pulling the float.

JSCC coworkers and students who were instrumental in building the float included Tracy Morton, Preston Turner, Lisa Kincaid, John McCommon, Rachel Hill, Joy Weathers, Cameron Byrd and Rafael Diaz. Congratulations to the team for great success with the project and thanks to the team for their efforts in representing Jackson State Community College. Photo of JSCC float and other winning entries can be seen online at the Jackson Sun http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20131204/NEWS/312040017/Jackson-Christmas-Parade-winning-entries.

Jackson State Offers Healthcare Certificate Programs

Jackson State Community College is now offering three non-credit healthcare certificate programs as part of Rx-Tennessee. This program is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The consortium of Tennessee Community Colleges and Colleges of Applied Technology received $12.5M to offer these programs to promote skills development and employment opportunities. The program is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Initiative, which promotes skills development and employment opportunities in various fields.

The program being offered at Jackson State is focused on helping individuals in healthcare professions or those interested in getting into the healthcare field. Upon completion, individuals can earn certificates in phlebotomy, EKG technician and certified clinical medical assistant (CCMA).

There are three phases of completion to the program. Phlebotomy and EKG can be completed in 10 and 8 weeks respectively and can be taken as independent, standalone certifications. The phlebotomy and EKG certifications serve as prerequisites for the CCMA program, which takes an additional 10 weeks to complete. Ultimately, this is the program that we encourage students to do, says Rita Foster, Program Coordinator. This will give healthcare workers additional skills to work in a variety of settings and have more flexibility professionally.

Upon completion of the CCMA program, an individual will be eligible for employment in a variety of healthcare environments. Job opportunities will be most prevalent in hospitals, medical clinics, doctors office, rehabilitation centers, nursing and assisted living facilities. The skills attained through the program will qualify individuals to perform many of the duties in these environments.

According to Foster, this program is great for individuals who are thinking about a career in healthcare, students currently on waiting lists who want to get their careers moving, or current LPN students or working LPNs. This is an efficient way for current healthcare professionals to gain certification which may give them a competitive edge or possible opportunities for advancement.

An important component of the program is the focus on retention and completion. There are completion coaches that are focused on ensuring students complete their education and are able to go to work. These coaches help ensure students remain fully engaged and stay on track for completion and ultimately for success in the workplace.

Everyone is encouraged to apply to the program. Especially targeted for the program are Trade Act Adjustment Assistance eligible workers that are dislocated, unemployed and underemployed adults and youth. Priority is given to veterans of U.S. armed services. For additional information about the CCMA program, visit http://www.jscc.edu/non-credit-health-care-certificates.html or contact Rita Foster at (731) 424-3520 ext. 50253