Friday, April 27, 2012

Dr. Ruff Retires - After Investing 39 Years in his Students

My college ride has been full of surprises and this week was no different.  I attended the annual Honors Program information presentation on Tuesday night, and it ended with an unusual twist.  Dr. George Pimentel went through the traditional formalities but closed with a special presentation from the students for Dr. Bob Ruff.  As each of them shared comments about how much Dr. Ruff had changed their lives, I was impressed with what a difference one teacher can make.
Ruff has been teaching for almost fifty years, with the last thirty-nine of them here at Vol State.  He is known for using a style of teaching made famous by Socrates in which the students engage in conversation exploring opposing viewpoints in search of truth.
Adjunct English instructor, Arlo Hall is a former student of Dr. Ruff’s.  “In a lot of ways, he is the benchmark for what makes a good teacher,” said Hall.  “He was shocking, interesting, and challenging and he was also the first teacher that treated me like an adult.  He is not afraid to challenge his students; he expects them to try as hard as they can.  He does a great job of directing the conversation without monopolizing it.  I think of him as the definition of critical thinking.”
Philosophy major Janie Bresee uses the skills she learned in his class on a regular basis.  “At first his reputation was a little intimidating, but after I got to know him, I was more comfortable in the class.  He provoked me to learn—not with a lecture, but from the questions he would ask.  He helped me to learn how much I could handle.  I went into the class thinking that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the work, but I found out that I had more within myself than what I realized.”
Jessica Saunders is currently a student in Ruff’s American History/Literature combo class.  This is an Honors class in which two disciplines are combined, creating a holistic experience for the learner.  “He has been amazing.   I have learned more from him and Professor Blomgren than I ever thought possible.  He holds you accountable when you are doing something wrong without making you feel bad.  The group discussions are wonderful, but when I try to take that method to other classrooms, it fails.  He has taught me that even when you feel like giving up—don’t!   Just keep on.”
Director of the Honors Program, Dr. George Pimentel, has worked with Ruff for ten years.  “One of the things I have always admired about him is his ability to get students to want to learn.  He’s tough, but he has a way to get students to participate.  Some of us have talked about how we can get our students to love learning like he does.  He will be missed on this campus.”
Grady Eades is the department chair for social sciences.  “Many people say they use the Socratic Method and claim they don’t lecture, but Dr. Ruff really does,” said Eades.  “He doesn’t have a set schedule.  The conversation directs where the lessons go, so it’s learning in the truest sense of the word.”  Eades said that colleges often focus on things not directly pertaining to learning, such as meeting administrative requirements and bureaucracy that comes with the territory.  “Dr. Ruff is deliberative.  He takes his time and is thoughtful about things; he doesn’t rush just because the world around him wants him to.  When it comes to making decisions and treating people appropriately, when people get caught up in thinking this has to be done right now, he continued on at his own pace.”
English Professor Nancy Blomgren has been the second half of the combo class for seventeen years.  “He doesn’t assume students are all empty vessels that need to be filled,” said Blomgren.  “They already have something there that can be worked with.  Once they know that, then they can do just about anything.  He knows his students can do it, even though they may not know it.  His students end up doing far more than they thought they could.  That’s a real gift to give to somebody.  When he leaves, there will be a void, and things will be different, but, I think the impact he has made on the way his colleagues think about students will continue.”
Volunteer State Community College

Friday, April 20, 2012

Student Art Takes Over the Ramer Building

If you haven't seen the Vol State Student Art show you need to check it out. There's photography, painting, drawings and a variety of graphic art styles. The work is hanging in the new art location on campus- the Ramer Great Hall. Those of us who work here think art in Ramer adds a new energy to the building. Art students spent several days hanging the work. It runs from the Great Hall down the hall to Advising. The Art Gallery used to be in the Thigpen Library lobby. Construction work there forced the move. It's nice to have art back on display at Vol State.

On Friday April 27 they'll be holding the Arts Alive Reception & Awards Ceremony is Friday in the Ramer Great Hall from 12:30pm-1:30pm. Awards include student work in art, the Number One literary magazine and the Squatters' Rites literary magazine.

Jurors are the one's who judge the student work. Here is what one juror had to say:

"I was extremely impressed by the variety and caliber of works submitted. I want all students to know that I took my time and very carefully weighed presentation, concept, mastery of medium, composition, use of color, and creativity in my selections for the exhibition. You should all be very proud of the work you are doing and showing. It was truly difficult to make edits.

This is a strong and diverse show!"

"Awards were based on works that stood out. Works that pushed the limits of materials or mediums were recognized.

Britt Stadig
Professional Artist
Academic Director of Art Foundations, General Education, and Transitional Studies
Art Institute of Tennessee-Nashville.

Logistics Visits VW in Chattanooga

On April 5, Vol State logistics Students Gary Bickle and Jeff Hartmann traveled 412 miles round trip with APSU graduate Student Beverly Wilson and Vol State Professor George Wilson to the Volkswagen Academy in Chattanooga. Director Edward Collins showed the training facilities that prepared Volkswagen employees for the safety, welding, robotics, mechanical, electronics, hydraulics, pneumatics, and computer technologies used in the adjacent Volkswagen Assembly Plant. Up next, an Assembly Plant tour in July after Jeff and George return from TnCIS China 2012 (where they will tour Volkswagen's Shanghai factory). Both the Shanghai factory and the Chattanooga factory produce the Volkswagen Passat.

Volkswagen Academy was developed by Volkswagen in partnership with Chattanooga State Community College and Tennessee Technological University.

-George Wilson, Logistics Program

What's Maymester?

Vol State students - get ahead in your college career, consider a Maymester class. It's a super short semester in less than a month. They start May 7 and end May 25. The classes are intensive and usually meet five days a week and several hours a day, but it's a great way to gets some credits if you're willing to work. Check out the class schedule for details on what is offered this coming Maymester. Registration is open now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sigma Chi Eta Communications Club

Sigma Chi Eta Communication Club is a Volunteer State Community College campus organization for all students interested in the field of Communication.

The club is intended to stimulate interest in the field of Communication; to provide opportunities to discuss and exchange ideas in the field of Communication; and to explore options for community college students who choose to transfer to a four-year institution or opt to enter the work force.

Those Vol State students who qualify can also join the Sigma Chi Eta National Honor Society for Communication and Speech, which is the national level of communication scholars.

The qualifications for the national honor society are to have completed at least 12 hours at Vol State, with nine hours in communication courses, an overall GPA of at least 3.0, and a GPA of at least 3.25 for all communication courses.

“Sigma Chi Eta represents the highest standard of communications students,” said Pitts.

-Dawn Wyatt

Monday, April 16, 2012

Speech Contest Winners

Monday April 16, 2012, The Communication Department hosted the Hal R. Ramer Speech Contest. Dr. Hal Ramer was the founding president of Vol State. The contest was named in his honor to celebrate the achievements of students who share a passion for public speaking. The contest recognizes the outstanding public speaking skills of the Vol State students. The contest is presented each spring at Vol State.

Congratulations to the winners:

1st Kayla Cormier “Why switching to a whole-foods planted based diet is better for your health”

2nd Andrea McGill “Bullying”

3rd Jean Ingram “Wounded Warriors Project”

Pictured: Event organizer Jennifer Pitts, first place winner Kayla Cormier and Len Assante, Communication Department chair.

Volunteer State Community College

Bluegrass Jamboree Winners

The Sumner County Bluegrass Jamboree at Vol State had pickers and fiddlers outside in the sunshine getting ready and inside the auditorium playing their hearts out. The competition and concerts were a success with hundreds attending. Here are a few pictures and a list of the winners. Congrats to all!



1st place: Rob Pearcy

2nd place: Joey Gipson

3rd place: Chris Gray

Bluegrass Banjo

1st place: Joey Gipson

2nd place: Chris Gray

3rd place: Rob Pearcy


1st place: Rob Pearcy

2nd place: Chris Gray

3rd place: Ben Ayers


1st place: Rob Pearcy

2nd place: Tyler Sellers

3rd place: Ben Ayers

Bluegrass Band

1st place: Mary Rachel Nally Band

2nd place: Raygan Sellars Band

3rd place: Hillary Bevels Band

Pee Wee Fiddle

1st place: Ivy Phillips

2nd place: Jaden Smith-Borne

3rd place: Savannah Ritter

Beginner Fiddle

1st place: Steven Alonso

2nd place: Lauren Clardy

3rd place: Raygan Sellers

Junior Fiddle

1st place: Gail Johnson

2nd place: Hillary Bevels

3rd place: Dave Wascher

Senior Fiddle

1st place: Jerry McGlockin

2nd place: Carl Franklin

3rd place: Dan Sadler

Pee Wee Dance

1st place: Brayden Chunn

2nd place: Ivy Phillips

3rd place: Lexi Johnson

Junior Dance

1st place: Ty Jackson

2nd place: Sierra Tomlin

3rd place: Kelcy Tomlin

Senior Dance

1st place: Garry Giles

2nd place: Tim Bradley

3rd place: Shawna Taylor

Square Dance

1st place: Main Stage Fusion

2nd place: Main Stage Explosion

3rd place: Tri-Star Express

Volunteer State Community College Bluegrass Jamboree

Free Concert Thursday Features Vol State Musicians

The Vol State campus will be rocking all afternoon, Thursday, April 19, with a live music show on the Thigpen Library lawn.

The bands scheduled for 2-3:30 p.m., are Jim O’Baid, Ed White, Freezz De BossMann and Danya.

From 5-6:00 p.m., the Vol State Commercial Music Ensemble, ChanceCold and BackHand Karma.

The free event, which is part of the annual Communication Week, is sponsored by the Live Sound class.

“Steve Bishir and the guys in the live sound class devised this gig, and they’re doing the whole thing," said Lynn Peterson, of the music department.

“They’ve been trying to get a live sound class and they finally got it this semester. And in order for that class to really do hands-on, they need projects,” said Peterson.

“This is the first year the live sound class has been offered,” said Bishir, director of recording studio.

“The class is about taking a project from a concept to the performance,” said Bishir.

-Dawn Wyatt

Friday, April 13, 2012

Vol State Romance - Strikes Again!

Do you consider Vol State a romantic place?  Communications major Justin Underwood must have thought so.  Last April he proposed to fellow student Jeanette Moore during the annual Vol State Music Showcase. The two will graduate in just a couple of weeks...and Vol State will always be part of their romance story.
“I met her while I was traveling with a music ministry,” said Justin.  “She came to a block party where I was playing.  After that first concert she added me on MySpace and we kind of hung out for a while.  It wasn’t long before we started dating and that went on for two and a half years before the proposal.”
Being the talented musician that he is, Justin wrote a special song just for the occasion. It just so happens that the cameras were rolling the night of the performance. 
Jeanette is an education major.  “I knew we were supposed to be together," said Jeanette.  "I'm a singer and he plays drums, guitar, and everything else.  We are both family oriented and discussed it and we remained abstinent the whole three years before marriage.  Now, a year later we are going to have a baby close to our anniversary.  I still go to school and work full-time.  I was so surprised that night.  I thought he was just nervous when he called me out on stage, but when he got down on one knee, I thought, ‘Oh my God!’ Everyone knew about it but me.”
Justin and Jeanette were married in October, and will both graduate this spring.  The song made enough of a splash that it will be included on the upcoming Vol State music showcase CD at the end of the month. 
If you have a Vol State Romance you would like to share, Vol State has a dedicated webpage for romances where Vol State played a role in bringing them together.
Volunteer State Community College

Thursday, April 12, 2012

EMS Students - Bodies Everywhere

It looked like a real problem at first glance: bodies all over the place outside of the Annex buildings on the East Campus. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers were attending to some of the victims, while a number of folks just sat around and watched. The disaster simulation was designed to give Vol State EMS students experience in a mass casualty situation. Notes attached to each victim gave a list of injuries to be treated. To provide a full range of scenarios, those injuries ranged from cuts and broken bones to gunshot wounds. The folks watching were critiquing the student work.

Students took turn as triage coordinators and as first responders. The victims smiled perhaps a bit too much at times and needles and breathing tubes were only simulated. Still, it's another opportunity for Vol State EMS students to practice the skills they have been honing all school year. Many of the students will be taking the tension up a notch or two in May. They'll be participating in a huge Nashville area disaster drill at the Nashville airport. That annual affair often features smoke, whining sirens and the feel of a real disaster. The world of EMS is a career-long learning experience.

For more info on the EMS programs visit:

Volunteer State Community College EMT Paramedic

Free Bluegrass Jamboree at Vol State this Weekend

Bluegrass music fans have a new event to enjoy this weekend and it’s expected to bring in folks from across Tennessee. The Sumner County Bluegrass Jamboree will feature competitions, jamming and concerts. It’s hosted and sponsored by Vol State  as part of the new bluegrass music degree program. It will be held on Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14. The competition starts at 6:30 p.m. on Friday with Dobro, Bluegrass Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar categories. Competition continues at 10 a.m. on Saturday with Bluegrass Band, Pee Wee Fiddle, Beginner Fiddle, Junior Fiddle, Senior Fiddle, Pee Wee Dancing, Junior Dancing, Senior Dancing and Square Dancing. There will be $2700 in cash prizes and judging by bluegrass veterans. Registration is free and open to everyone. Sign-up will be held the day of the event on-site.

“There’s camaraderie among bluegrass musicians,” said Vol State bluegrass organizer Melissa Du Puy. “They get together to compete, as well as informally play together. It’s also fun for music fans to come down and enjoy the picking and dancing.”

The public is invited to come and enjoy the competitions and the free concert on Saturday at 7p.m. It spotlights Charlie Cushman and Johnny Warren. The Likely Culprits, featuring Deanie Richardson, Melonie Cannon and Garnet Bowman, will also perform. The event is emceed by WSM radio personality Marcia Campbell and dancer and musician Larry Chunn. The Vol State Bluegrass Ensemble, Bluegrass Ablaze, will play during the Saturday competitions. The group is part of the new degree program with a bluegrass music emphasis that started this year at Vol State.

The Sumner County Bluegrass Jamboree will be held in and around Caudill Hall on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. There is plenty of free parking and food will be available for sale. For more information visit or call 615-452-8600, extension 2936.

Volunteer State Community College Bluegrass

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ruff Award Winners and the New SGA President

The Vol State Student Leadership luncheon is an opportunity to recognize the student leaders who did so much throughout the school year with student clubs and organizations on campus. The students were honored today and two students stood out among the talented group. The Robert Ruff Distinguished Student Leadership Award goes to those student leaders who showed a remarkable degree of dedication, dependability, sensitivity, objectivity and motivation. This year William "Boyd" Kernodle was given the award for the main campus for his work with the new Student Veterans Association group. Carol Abney was given the award for the Livingston campus for her work as a Supplemental Instruction Leader and with the National Society of Leadership and Success. Congratulations to both!

George Pimentel was honored as Faculty Advisor of the Year for advising Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors Program.

The finale of the event was the announcement of the race for Student Government Association president. The winner is Aaron Thomas and he will serve next school year in that capacity.

Volunteer State Community College

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pure Inspiration from a Vol State Student

Are you ready for summer fun?  Vol State student James Ross is.  He loves sports.  He plays tennis, softball, and likes to go wake boarding and just got back from a national basketball tournament.  He is hoping to get into track and field next year.  Not only is Ross a student, but he drives to work at a full time job in Nashville five days a week.  You might ask, what’s so unusual about that?
He was born with a physical disability and has used a wheelchair since he was a child. 
“I first started playing basketball when I was 8 years old,” said Ross. “There was this athlete that came to a camp for kids with disabilities, and he started a basketball team.  So, I played all the way through school, but after high school I quit for a several years.   That was a big mistake, ‘cause I lost a lot of my talent.  I am trying to get it back and I am playing with the adult team in Nashville.”
After he graduates from Vol State, Ross would like to go on to play wheelchair basketball for either the University of Illinois or the University of Alabama.  “I also enjoy writing,” said Ross.  “I want to help people to find inspiration and pursue what they are good at.  I have considered getting into psychology, so I could help people, but I need to stay focused right now since I want to play basketball.  If I can encourage someone I do.  We all have obstacles regardless of whether you are in a wheelchair or not.  Life has its ups and downs but this has made me stronger.”
Volunteer State Community College

Monday, April 9, 2012

Communication Week

Communication Week at Volunteer State Community College will be April 16-20, and it’s going to be a week-long, jam-packed showcase of the best and brightest of Vol State’s communication students.

“Communication Week has largely been a departmental event in the past. This year we’ve expanded it to be a student-led, campus-wide event,” said Jennifer Pitts, faculty advisor for Sigma Chi Eta National Honor Society, sponsor of Communication Week.

“We wanted to highlight the Vol State communication programs and our best communication students,” said Pitts, “Like the commercial music ensemble, recording industry management, songwriting , our digital and print publishing, the audio and video production facilities, and so much more,” said Pitts.

“This is the first year Communication Week has been organized by a student group,” said Pitts.

“The Sigma Chi Eta Communication Club has put weeks of planning into the program to ensure that the event goes off without a hitch and that all areas in the department are well represented.”

Sigma Chi Eta Communication Club is a Vol State campus organization for all students interested in the field of Communication.

-Dawn Wyatt

Here's a list of activities:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Public Speaking-$100 Cash Prize for Winning Student

Some people are afraid of heights, spiders, confined spaces and death, but various studies show that fear of public speaking usually outranks all of these.  Is it possible that some people are more afraid of giving a eulogy at a funeral than being the one in the casket?  If that sounds like something you can relate to, I have good news.  Vol State offers a number communication classes to help with your fears.  Even better than that, they are hosting an oratorical contest honoring outstanding student speakers on Monday, April 16, 2012 at 12:15 in Wemyss Auditorium. 
First place winner will receive $100 cash and a wall plaque and his or her name permanently inscribed in the great hall.
Second place winner will receive $75. Cash and a wall plaque.
Third place winner will receive $50 cash and a wall plaque.
The speech must be original, and should 5-7 minutes in length.  Speech topics must be either informative or persuasive in nature. The outline must be submitted by April 10 at noon in the Humanities office located in Ramer 101.  For more information please contact Jennifer Pitts at extension 3421.
Volunteer State Community College

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vol State Singers to Perform "GLORIA"

Nancy Slaughter leads the Vol State Singers. They have a big concert coming up this month and Nancy has this update:

The Vol State Singers will be participating in the Roane State Community College 40th Anniversary Concert on April 29. The concert will take place in the Campus Theatre and will include choirs from five Tennessee community colleges. They will be performing “GLORIA” by Antonio Vivaldi, a Baroque Italian composer. The “GLORIA” is one part of a Catholic Mass that Vivaldi set to music in several sections to create the work.

The mass choir will be accompanied by UT-Knoxville orchestra members. Soloists for the work are comprised of Roane State music faculty. The Vol State Singers have worked diligently all semester to prepare this work and will certainly enjoy such a great opportunity to sing with an orchestra. The group has been so attentive to the work, that they learned it ahead of the intended rehearsal schedule for the class.

The Vol State Singers will depart Sunday, April 29 and head to Harriman, Tennessee, where they will have a big rehearsal with all other singers and the orchestra at 2pm. The concert is free and open to the public at 6pm. Directions to the event may be found on their website:

Volunteer State Community College

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Vol State Students Land Cooperative Education Spots

Nine Vol State Logistics students have been selected for a paid co-operative work experience at the Gap, Inc. distribution center in Gallatin for the Summer 2012 semester and Fall 2012 semester. Amanda Nielsen with Gap has been a driving force organizing this program with support from Rick Parrent, Gap General Manager Kevin Kuntz and Facility Managers Dave McAndrew and Kelly Mann. The students are listed below as well as the session they have selected:

Robert Wardell – Summer
Jason Wesley – Summer
Jonathan Coulter – Summer
Chris Comstock – Summer
Kelly Maxey – Fall
Larry Perdue – Fall
Jeremy Woods – Fall
Carrie Irvin – Fall

Thanks to Gap for the support. George Wilson with the Vol State Logistics program works closely with area employers in partnerships such as this one. Logistics is a growing job field. If you want to learn more about the Vol State Logistics program visit the web page.

Volunteer State Community College