JSCC BSA to host Memphis Sanitation Workers

Alvin Turner and Baxter Leech, two of the sanitation workers that participated in the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike, will be honored in an open reception hosted by the Black Student Association at Jackson State Community College. The event will be held in the lobby of the McWherter Center on the college’s main campus, Wednesday, February 3 at 5:30 p.m.

The event will kickoff Black History Month at the college. The sanitation workers are coming to the college prior to a presentation at the Jackson-Madison County Library on Thursday, February 4. Friends of the Library is the group sponsoring the sanitation workers’ trip to Jackson.

Gloria Hester, Friends of the Library member and acquisition and circulation librarian at JSCC, expressed her appreciation for the actions of the workers in 1968. “We owe much to these men,” she states. “Our parents and grandparents literally had to lay their lives on the line for many of the rights we have today. We owe them so much.”

In April, 1968, more than 1,300 sanitation workers walked off the job in Memphis to highlight the need for economic equality and social justice. The following day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The actions of the sanitation workers did much to initiate legislation that has made great strides in achieving the goals of Dr. King.

For information regarding the reception, contact Countance Anderson at 731-425-2637 or canderson26@jscc.edu. For information pertaining to the presentation, Contact Perry Burrows at pburrows@perryburrows.com.

Patrick Davis named as Dean of Academic Support

Patrick Davis, Director of Distance Education at Jackson State, will take the helm as the dean of academic support at the college on February 1. After a lengthy interview process with 10 candidates chosen from a pool of more than 70 applicants for the position, the experience that Davis brought to the table made him the best candidate to lead this very important role on campus.

Davis has been with Jackson State for 9 years and has served as director of distance education for the duration. He holds an associate of science in communication from JSCC and a bachelor of arts from the University of Tennessee at Martin with a major in communication (A/V Production) and a minor in political science. Davis has continued with graduate studies and earned an MBA in technology management and an MAEd with a specialization in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix. He is currently enrolled at East Tennessee State University School of Graduate Studies in the educational leadership and policy analysis doctoral program (postsecondary and private sector leadership concentration) with an anticipated completion date of Fall 2017.

When asked how he envisions his leadership in academic support for the college, Patrick states, “First and foremost, we will listen and be attentive, accountable to the needs of our students and faculty. We need to develop strategies within the Academic Support Divisions which support ATD [Achieving the Dream], Access to Success, Reconnect, and Drive to 55 for our students to meet their personal goals and become successful, productive citizens.”

According to Dr. Larry Bailey, vice president of academic affairs, the choice of Davis for the leadership role in academic support makes sense on multiple levels. “Patrick has worked closely with the academic support services since the departure of his predecessor [Mary Jane Bassett] last June,” states Bailey. “He is well-respected by all of the deans in the college and has an excellent working relationship with the departments that will be under his leadership as the new dean.”

Also seen as an important component in Davis’ selection is the unique perspective he brings to the position. Upon entering Jackson State as a student in 1990, Davis began his academic career, as do so many students, in need of remediation. Through the support and mentorship of faculty and staff at the college, he received what he refers to as a “wake-up call.” “I am excited, yet humbled, to be given this opportunity,” said Davis. He sees the journey of where he’s been and where he is as one of hard work and perseverance. He hopes that he will be able to encourage and inspire students and serve as an example of what is possible.

As the college enters a new era of academic support with Achieving the Dream and the education initiatives of the Governor’s Drive to 55, Davis’ perspective is seen as being an invaluable asset to better serve the students and helping them along on a pathway of success. Davis wholeheartedly accepts and welcomes the challenges of college’s efforts.

College Begins “Year of Introspection”

In an effort to remove barriers and help underserved students succeed, Jackson State Community College introduced the Achieving the Dream initiative during a campus-wide kickoff as the new spring semester began. The focus of the initiative is to collect data for evidence-based decisions to understand obstacles to graduation and improve the campus experience, especially for first-generation, low-income and non-traditional students.

Billed as “a year of introspection,” 2016 will be a year for authentic and transparent conversations about all of the ways that the faculty and staff of JSCC help students achieve their dreams. Conversations will be guided with data gathered through Institutional Research. Working together, everyone will look for ways to ensure everything is being done to remove the barriers that keep students from being successful.

ATD coaches Dr. Steven Murray and Dr. Charles Van Middlesworth were on campus during in-service to meet with all faculty and staff over a two-day period. Their goal during the in-service kickoff was to help initiate the yearlong conversation and give some clarity to what ATD is and is not. The meetings brought to light some of the issues that need to be discussed and certainly led to conversations that were, at times, quite spirited.

The school was one of 16 community and technical colleges invited in 2015 to participate in the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network after an application supported by Gov. Bill Haslam. The nonprofit organization is a comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success that includes more that 200 colleges in 35 states. Jackson State and Roane State in Harriman are the only two from Tennessee.

“This is a fantastic opportunity,” said Heather Freeman, administrative assistant to the president at Jackson State. “All of our students face a lot of different challenges. We want them to come to Jackson State, and we want them to be successful in whatever career they choose.”

Freeman serves as the Executive Team leader for Achieving the Dream. She joined other team members from Jackson State in Cincinnati last summer at the Achieving the Dream Kickoff Institute where they were introduced to the program and its abundant resources.

Those resources will be available to faculty members as they develop new strategies to assist students. Kimberly Todd, director of Jackson State’s radiography program and faculty representative on the Executive Team, said instructors will benefit from research and data cultivated at other colleges.

“Achieving the Dream is the perfect resource for us to share ideas and best practices,” Todd said. “Our faculty are 100 percent dedicated to finding ways to deeply engage our students, and we are more than happy to take a look at new and innovative strategies in the classroom to help students succeed.”

Faculty members are a critical element to Achieving the Dream at Jackson State. Todd said while every employee plays a role in student success, instructors develop important relationships with students during classroom interactions that supports their education in the most important ways.

“Student success is going to be a collaborative effort across campus,” Todd said. “But emphasizing and developing learner-centered pedagogies practiced in the classroom will prove essential in helping students reach their goals.”

The first year of the Achieving the Dream program is meant to be introspective – the school will begin gathering data to determine issues on campus that can be addressed. “We’ll take a look at the cold, hard data that we have and try to make informed decisions based on that information,” Freeman said. “That discussion is going to lead us to the next steps.”

Sara Cooper-Vonderheide, director of institutional research and accountability at Jackson State, serves as the school’s Data Team leader for Achieving the Dream. Her group will develop and analyze data in order to determine specific issues that provide roadblocks to student success and whether specific populations are underserved.

“When you start looking at student data, it can get very complex very quickly,” Cooper-Vonderheide said. “Our purpose is to inform the campus of what’s actually going on, and we have to make everyone understand the data we’re providing because you’ve got to have a huge buy-in.”

Bobby Smith, vice president for student success and institutional effectiveness at Jackson State, is the Core Team leader for Achieving the Dream. The school serves a diverse community in West Tennessee, and its mission is to help all of its students succeed. But it is crucial to understand the difference between equity and equality when it comes to student achievement, he said.

“We tend to operate in an equality mindset in order to provide equal treatment,” he said. “But instead of treating everybody the same with a one-size-fits all mentality, we want to find ways to look at students as individuals. They may not start off at the same place, but we want them to end up at the same place.”

Cooper-Vonderheide agreed. She said student success is everyone’s responsibility, and Achieving the Dream will help Jackson State address individual students with varying barriers to success. “We really need to look at what we can do to ensure students can be successful – but also so they know they can be successful,” she said.

To be accepted into the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network, colleges are required to demonstrate a commitment to spend at least three years working with network experts. They must also be committed to implementing reforms designed to improve student achievement and completion rates.

John McCommon, marketing and public relations coordinator for Jackson State, serves as the Communication Team leader, and he will work to explain the program, its data and emerging recommendations to various constituencies on campus. Achieving the Dream aligns with state educational initiatives, such as Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55, which seek to increase the number of students who enter college and earn a degree, he said. It will help students complete their degrees and become productive members of the workforce.

“Achieving the Dream is about developing an evidenced-based culture so our decisions are based on hard data as opposed to gut feelings,” McCommon said. “It’s really critical for us to figure out how we can help students succeed.”

TBR Appoints David Gregory Acting Chancellor

The Tennessee Board of Regents today appointed David Gregory acting chancellor for the State University and Community College System of Tennessee at the recommendation of Governor Bill Haslam, board chair.

Gregory, currently serving as TBR’s vice chancellor for Administration and Facilities Development, had previously announced his plan to retire at the end of January, but agreed to delay his departure for this role beginning Feb. 1.

“David Gregory is known by and respected by many for his years of service to the Tennessee Board of Regents and in many roles in state government,” said Haslam. “As a different governing structure around TBR and its institutions is being considered, I think it is important to have someone who is known by everyone in the system and knows state government very well. David will be a strong and steady hand as acting chancellor as we conduct the chancellor search. He has the character, the insight and the commitment to the system and will do an outstanding job.”

As vice chancellor, Gregory oversees government relations, institutional advancement and facilities development. In that role he speaks for the interests of TBR and its institutions as the key legislative liaison to the Tennessee General Assembly and represents the system to the executive branch of state government.

He coordinates the relationship between the TBR system office and member institutions for advancement, and oversees capital outlay and maintenance projects for the TBR’s 46 colleges and universities across the state.

As acting chancellor, Gregory will guide the TBR system in accordance with the board’s direction and manage the system office in Nashville until a search process is completed and new chancellor is selected.

“Higher education in Tennessee has an undeniable momentum today, thanks to the Governor’s Drive to 55 initiative, Tennessee Promise, the TBR’s completion efforts, and similar initiatives happening at every one of our public colleges and universities,” said Gregory.

“Other states are looking to Tennessee as the model for innovative thinking in the push to increase student success. I plan to be a steady hand during this transition to new leadership for the system, but one that continues to push for progress – to maintain but also build on the momentum we have going.”

The search for a new chancellor is expected to begin as more details become available concerning the Governor’s Focus on College and University Success proposal. The results of that effort will drive the criteria and timeline for the chancellor search, according to TBR Vice Chair Emily Reynolds. Gregory has agreed to remain acting chancellor until the search is complete.

A veteran public administrator, Gregory joined the TBR in May of 1998 after serving as director of government affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield for three years. He held leadership positions in state government for 15 years prior, including terms as chief of staff for Governor Ned McWherter and chief of staff for Lieutenant Governor John Wilder. He is a graduate of Lipscomb University.

In other action, the board approved the search criteria for a new president at Walters State Community College. President Wade McCamey previously announced his retirement effective June 30. The search committee will be announced at a later date.

The Tennessee Board of Regents is among the nation’s largest higher education systems, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions. The TBR system currently includes six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology, providing programs across the state to nearly 200,000 students.