Secretary Of State
Tre Hargett Cites
'Vision' Of Project
At Downtown Site
BY SARAH GREGORY
"The sky is the limit" for students who will attend the expanded Greeneville campus of Walters State Community College (WSCC), Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said during a Monday news conference at the General Morgan Inn.
While in Greene County, Hargett also stopped at the Mosheim Public Library and later addressed a luncheon meeting of the Greene County Republican Women. (Please see related article on Page ?????)
The mid-morning news conference served as a gathering for a number of administrators from WSCC, and others who have supported the project, such as Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels, Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles, architect John Fisher, and businessman and philanthropist Scott M. Niswonger.
Hargett said that plans for the facility immediately made an impression on him when they were submitted to the state.
"I was just amazed. It's one of the most beautiful plans to come to the state building commission," he said.
"It says a lot about the vision of the community," Hargett said.
"It says a lot about philanthropists like Scott Niswonger who are willing to invest in that. It says a lot about leadership, when you have mayors and city councils and commissioners, [state] Representative David Hawk, and [state] Senator Steve Southerland" throw their support behind the project.
NOT JUST BRICKS, MORTAR
"As beautiful as this is, though, what I really like hearing about this morning is -- it's not just about bricks and mortar," Hargett said.
"It's really about what's going to go on inside those rooms. It's about building the future of our state, one student at a time," Hargett said, echoing earlier comments from Niswonger about the opportunity the new facility will give to students who have never been on a college campus before, such as those working to complete their GED.
Encouraging those students, Niswonger said, will help "break the chain of unemployment" and provide opportunity.
"Stepping on a campus makes a change" in a person, Niswonger added.
State Rep. Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, agreed, and noted that Tennessee is "behind as a state" in individuals with associate's degrees and certifications.
The WSCC expansion, he said, "will help make a difference in a lifetime of learning."
Dr. Lori Campbell, WSCC Vice President of Academic Affairs, told the group the new facility will educate for the 21st century workforce.
The expansion will have a number of state-of-the-art natural science laboratories, health science laboratories, simulation rooms, a high-tech mobile library, and classrooms to support additional programs.
A 234-seat lyceum will serve as a gathering space and auditorium for use by students and the community.
Simulation rooms will help students in the allied health programs familiarize themselves with environments such as intensive-care units, nursing stations, and homes for those who need occupational therapy.
Studies of workforce needs, Campbell said, helped WSCC determine what programs should be added to the Greeneville campus.
Campbell also gave an update about the project's progress. She said that it was on-schedule.
The demolition phase is almost complete and expected to be finished this week, she said.
Building foundations will be laid in June and steel frames are to be erected in July and August. The project is expected to be completed in late 2014 or early 2015.
Contractors Johnson & Galyon report that everything is on schedule so far, Campbell said.
SCOPE OF EXPANSION
The dramatic expansion of WSCC, thanks in no-small-part to $9 million in state grants and a local match provided by Niswonger, is expected to more than double enrollment at the Greeneville campus, said Dr. Drucilla Miller, dean of the Greeneville campus.
Currently, 1,100 students are enrolled. Miller said the expansion could bring as many as 1,500 more students to the downtown area for classes.
That effect, she said, will make a significant impact on the downtown area.
"It's going to look like the buildings downtown, because [architect] John [Fisher] looked at the Roby Center and captured the essence of buildings downtown," she said.
"It's just going to be beautiful," she added.
"This is the start of the revitalization of downtown Greeneville. This is the hub," Miller said.