Issue 580: 7 / 27 / 2015

Southwest Holds Welcome Reception for New President Tracy D. Hall

Dr. Tracy D. Hall makes ...

Dr. Tracy D. Hall makes first her public speech as president of Southwest during a welcome reception.

The Southwest Tennessee Community College family was joined by members of the Memphis community and the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to welcome President Tracy D. Hall during a reception held in her honor on July 21 at the Macon Cove Bornblum Library.

Among the guests and well-wishers were, TBR Vice Chancellor Warren Nichols who remarked in his greetings, “This is a national search to be the president of the community college in Memphis, Tennessee. And I think we found exactly the right person to fill that job in Dr. Tracy Hall.”

Special guests included Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Lora Job and Robert Brooks - representing U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, Jeremy Jordan - representing Congressman Steve Cohen, CAO for the City of Bartlett Mark Brown, Shelby County School Board Commissioner Kevin Woods, Tennessee College of Technology - Memphis Director Roland Rayner, Southwest Foundation Board Members Darrell Thomas and Sylvester Tate, Former President of State Technical Institute of Memphis Charles Temple, TBR Member Barbara Prescott, Baptist Hospital Corporate V.P. Keith Norman, President/CEO Chism Hardy Investments LLC. Carolyn Hardy, and Anthony Hall and Trever Hall - President Hall’s husband and son respectively, among others.

Southwest’s newly elected Student Government Association President Ashley Shores introduced Dr. Hall who addressed the crowd passionately saying,“I am here today by no accident. I believe I am here for a reason ... For me this is not a job. It is not even a career. It is my calling. I have to do this. I must do this. So I am so thankful and so grateful to do what I am called to do here in Memphis, Tennessee, and Southwest Tennessee Community College.”

View President Tracy Hall’s Welcome Reception Photo Gallery.

View video footage of President Tracy Hall’s Welcome Reception Address

Construction on Southwest Tennessee Community College's New Whitehaven Center is Underway

New Whitehaven Center interior rendering.

New Whitehaven Center interior rendering.

Southwest has started a $4.4 million construction project to convert a former Kroger into a new site for our Whitehaven Center. The supermarket transformation at 1234 Finley should be completed this fall. The former Kroger is a 31-year-old building with 44,000 square feet that can reportedly accommodate up to 1,500 students. The new location will be more accessible to Whitehaven area residents traveling to the facility. The conventional academic programs for community college students will still be offered. It will also provide an opportunity for high school students to use it as a vocational and technical learning center; to learn a trade at the same time they earn their high school diplomas. The current Whitehaven Center closes August 7. Current and new Whitehaven Center students are urged to enroll in their nearest Southwest Campus location this Fall 2015 until the new Whitehaven Center facility is ready for the start of the Spring 2016 Semester in January. For any more details, contact Verneta Boone at 901-333-6450.

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Project M.O.S.T. Completes Its 2015 Two-Week Summer I.C.E. Leadership Series with a Visit from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton

Mayor Wharton (standing left) is ...

Mayor Wharton (standing left) is asked a question by M.O.S.T. member, Vervie Moses (standing  right), during a Q & A session at a recent leadership series. (photo by Angelo Williams)

By Kariem-Abdul Salaam,
Director of Project M.O.S.T.

The Introduction to College Excellence (I.C.E.) two-week leadership program was developed and implemented in the summer of 2012.  Since that time, it has become an annual event designed to provide unique learning experiences for the Men of Southwest Tennessee (M.OS.T.). Our most recent I.C.E. training took place June 8 – 19, 2015, at the Union Avenue Campus in the M.O.S.T. training room known among our members as the “Haven of Success.” What may be viewed as the high point of the two weeks of training was a visit from A C Wharton, Mayor for the City of Memphis. Wharton had one of his staff contact the M.O.S.T. staff with a request to address the men in the program. His aide indicated that the mayor had been informed about the success of Project M.O.S.T. at Southwest and wanted to commend the men in the program as well as offer his support in our efforts. After speaking, he opened the floor up for questions that seemed to just keep on coming. Wharton was so engaged that his aide had to remind him that he had another appointment.  He left stating that he would love to come back and we also want to see that happen.

Historically, we have utilized our staff, as well as subject-matter experts from the Mid-South area to present on a plethora of topics ranging from financial literacy, dressing for success, building and maintaining high self-esteem, leadership development, and growth mindset. Unlike previous years, all of the workshops were developed and presented by the members of the Project M.O.S.T. staff. Based on the results of the satisfaction surveys completed by students who attended, this could very well have been the best I.C.E. yet. Every member of the staff facilitated or co-facilitated an informative topic.

The first sessions were facilitated by Lynn Jenkins (Dress for Success) and Annie Joiner (Job Readiness), followed on the next day by Paul Robinson (Financial Literacy). On Wednesday, June 10, the students took a field trip to the National Civil Rights Museum. The men were very excited and indicated how informative it was. Most of them plan to go back with a family member. The next day, Joiner conducted a follow-up session on job readiness that involved the men participating in mock interviews. It was quite impressive to see them so professionally dressed and articulate their answers so well. The week ended with a dynamic workshop presented by Angelo Williams on leadership development which highlighted a profound exercise that reinforced the need and importance for establishing and maintaining trust.

Jenkins kicked off the next week with a spirited presentation entitled, “Values: How They Govern Our Lives.” On the following day, Verties Sails, III, led the very well received and highly emotional workshop, “Fatherhood Development.” There was a great deal of discussion on this topic and many students indicated they would like to have this topic addressed further during the coming semesters. On Wednesday, June 17, it was arranged for the M.O.S.T. students to participate in a campus tour at the University of Memphis. The tour culminated with a Q & A session with an African-American group of students known as EMOC (Empowered Men of Color). Since many of our students plan to matriculate at the University of Memphis upon graduating from Southwest, we saw this tour as being very beneficial. 

The last session for the day was conducted by yours truly, Kariem-Abdul Salaam, entitled, “Grit and Growth Mindset,” concepts that emphasize that intelligence is not “fixed” but has the ability to continue to grow. The more it is challenged, the more it expands; that’s growth mindset. More importantly, it stresses that failure is not a fixed state. Grit means the Resilience to keep going, the Persistence to try new and improved strategies, the Determination to view failure as a path to new learning.

Please continue to support Project M.O.S.T. (Men of Southwest Tennessee).

View the M.O.S.T. Summer Leadership Series Photo Gallery.
(photos by Angelo Williams)

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Project Finish Line Helps Upturn Completion Rates

Project Finish Line volunteers contact ...

Project Finish Line volunteers contact non-completers urging them to complete their degrees or certificates.

Project Finish Line is a Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) initiative to increase post-secondary credentials for citizens of Tennessee. The goal is to contact students who have acquired credit hours but left college without obtaining a degree or certificate of completion. Southwest faculty and staff volunteers joined the initiative on June 15-17, contacting 515 former adult students, encouraging them to return to complete their programs. 

Assistant Professor of Social Behavioral Sciences John Tyler Stephenson was among the volunteers and conveyed why helping out was so important to him. “I think it is important to reach out to former students, as well our present students to help them complete their degrees. I think sometimes students don't realize how close they are to [completing] a degree. And I think if we can reach out to them and let them know the situation, I think, the students will complete their degrees, and that will help them.”

Instructor of Communication, Graphics and Fine Arts William (Bill) Turner III volunteered all three days. “The response has been actually surprisingly -- well. There are actually a few wrong numbers – numbers that have been disconnected – but the students … it’s almost like they forgot to come back to school or they got discouraged. And us reaching out to them seems to have encouraged them to go ahead and do the application for the fall,” Turner said.

Another Volunteer Clinton Metcalf, adjunct Spanish instructor for the Literature and Languages Department, stated, “As an employee here, we worked on several committees and one that’s close and dear to me is retention and trying to keep students in school and to graduate them. I think that's what it's all about. So, I try to retain them in my class and afterwards, I try to get them to stay in the program and graduate," Metcalf remarked.

Executive Director of Student Retention and Graduation Cynthia Calhoun indicated this was not Southwest’s first initiative. “This particular initiative is the second time we've done this, actually. In the fall of 2012, faculty called students from a list of about 2,400 and we were able to contact 900 of those students. One hundred two of them returned and about 23 of them filed intent to graduate forms and about 10 actually graduated the next spring - 2013. So we consider 10% of the students that we contacted, actually having a positive response, as very good,” stated Calhoun.

View the  Project Finish Line Gallery.

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Southwest Focuses on Best Practices for Adult Students

Southwest has recently joined the Coalition of Adult Learning Focused Institutions (ALFI).  Colleges and universities in the Coalition strive continuously to advance programs and services for adult students, evaluate their adult degree programs and share “best practices.”

Southwest adult programs include:  

The ALFI Coalition is an alliance of members of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) who demonstrate their commitment to improving their services to adult learners by completing the ALFI surveys.  The surveys assist colleges and universities on how to serve adult learners effectively and identify and compare how students, faculty, staff, and administrators value the services offered by the institution. The data identifies institutions’ strengths and challenges to plan strategically for the future, and allocate resources for the greatest impact. Data also serves as a baseline, enabling an institution to establish consistent measurements for the impact of their adult programs.

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Employees Have a HERO Who is Ready to Help

Nneka Norman-Gordon

Nneka Norman-Gordon

As the Tennessee General Assembly continues its efforts to boost the state’s college graduation rates, it is more important than ever that higher education faculty, staff and employees are able to work as efficiently and effectively as they can. Now there is an employee in the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury office who will help faculty, staff and employees navigate institutional barriers that may be limiting their ability to meet goals. The Higher Education Resource Officer (HERO) was established to improve state government responsiveness to faculty, staff and employees of Tennessee’s public higher education system.

Nneka Norman-Gordon is a liaison and resource for faculty, staff and other employees at state colleges and universities for any issues they have in dealing with institutional red tape. For example, when one university staff member was told guidelines of its higher education system prohibited the institution from leasing color printers and using legal size paper, despite the need for students, the HERO stepped in.

Norman-Gordon worked with the institution and the higher education system to resolve the guideline misinterpretation. The institution began investigating the cost-effectiveness of providing leased printers that can be used by students for color copying and legal-sized print options.

“I look forward to serving the faculty, staff and employees of our state’s great colleges and universities,” Norman-Gordon said. “My goal is to improve the interaction between faculty, staff and employees of public postsecondary institutions with higher education institutions and systems.  A large part of my job is providing constituent services to a group that is entrusted with helping to educate Tennesseans.”

For more information on the HERO office or to schedule a visit to your campus, go to

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Southwest Baseball Players Commit to Four-Year Colleges/Universities

Seven members of the 2015 Southwest baseball team will be continuing their education and baseball career at a four-year college or university. Included on the list of signees/commitments are three pitchers, three infielders and one outfielder. They are:

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Southwest Softball Players Sign With Bethel

Alex Turner

Alex Turner

Marissa Davis

Marissa Davis

Alex Turner and Marissa Davis, both two-year starters on the Southwest softball team, have signed with Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee, to continue their education and softball careers.

Turner, the team’s leadoff hitter and centerfielder from Munford, Tennessee, was named second team All-TCCAA as a sophomore and was a first team selection her freshman season. In 2015, Turner batted .387 with 15 doubles, seven home runs and three runs batted in and finished her career at Southwest as the College’s career leader with 113 games played, 355 at-bats, 102 runs scored, 140 hits, 33 doubles, 22 home runs, 243 total bases, .685 slugging average, 47 bases on balls and a .475 on-base average. In addition, Turner represented the NJCAA All-Stars earlier this month at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

Davis, who came to Southwest from Cherokee, Alabama, played leftfield and rightfield and was the number two hitter in the batting order for the Lady Saluqis. She batted .325 as a sophomore in 2015 and led the team (for the second straight season) with 15 stolen bases. Davis finished her career ranking in the top ten on the Southwest career charts with 36 stolen bases (second), 18 sacrifice bunts (second), 78 runs scored (third), 330 at-bats (fourth), 111 games played (fifth), and 108 hits (seventh). Prior to the 2015 season, she was named as one of Region VII’s top returning players in the NJCAA Division 1 Softball Season Preview.

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