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Walters State Niswonger Campus


Walters State Niswonger Campus






A Message From Dr. Miksa


Naming of Niswonger Campus


Timeline of WSCC Presence in Greene County

14 Law Enforcement Academy Serves Region, State 16 Building Includes Vision of Local Artists 17 Greene County Native Chosen as Dean 18 Workforce Training


19 Health Care Programs

18 Walters State Niswonger Campus


A Message From Dr. Miksa The Walters State Niswonger Campus represents more than a decade of hard work among many people toward increasing Walters State’s contribution to higher education in our region. A key component of that effort was the vision of Dr. Wade McCamey, immediate past president of Walters State, and Greeneville businessman and philanthropist Scott Niswonger. Scott boosted the college’s vision not only through generous funding support but also through his statewide leadership and advocacy to ensure the project’s success. Residents driving through downtown Greeneville will see the architectural quality of what Walters State hoped to establish in Greene County. Students will experience the state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, library and other learning facilities. In the new building, we have added a new program in Occupational Therapist Assistant and increased the number of cadets enrolled in our Law Enforcement Academy. Beginning this fall, we offered our Physical Therapist Assistant program on the campus. We expect to see an increase in our dual enrollment program, and traditional students and adult learners also will find the campus an inviting place to learn. Aside from drawing more people to the downtown business district, our existing and new transfer and workforce training programs will help more students find careers among the area’s hospitals, businesses and industries. The Niswonger Campus represents an investment in the local workforce, which ensures more investment in the local community. The Niswonger Campus in Greeneville is also seeing its vision of higher education through greater community connection come to fruition. With the completion of the exterior site and landscaping, the campus has hosted public gatherings this summer, and more celebrations are planned as we begin a new semester this fall. A hallmark of the design for the Niswonger Campus is public use. Its proximity to Greeneville High School and the downtown community make it a natural and walkable center of activity for students and residents. An example of what we mean by public use is the Town of Greeneville using our outdoor space as a venue for this summer’s downtown July 4th celebration. The new campus was the perfect place for viewing fireworks and enjoying music and other festivities in the college’s amphitheater. This was just the first of what I hope will be many community celebrations at the Niswonger Campus. While our students, faculty and staff have been using our new building since fall 2017, we are excited to host a public dedication ceremony and open house of the Niswonger Campus on Thursday, Sept. 26. I look forward to celebrating our new campus with the community it is designed to serve.

Dr. Tony Miksa

President Walters State Community College


Walters State Niswonger Campus

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Walters State Niswonger Campus


Naming of Niswonger Campus At its quarterly meeting held on Sept. 28, 2018, in Dyersburg, the Tennessee Board of Regents honored Greeneville philanthropist and businessman Scott Niswonger by naming Walters State’s campus in Greeneville the Walters State Niswonger Campus. The naming is in recognition of Niswonger’s substantial support of Walters State’s expansion in Greeneville and his leadership and dedication to education. He has committed $5 million toward the expansion of the campus, which represents the largest gift ever made to the Walters State Foundation. In recommending to the TBR the naming of the campus in honor of Niswonger, Walters State president Dr. Tony Miksa noted that Niswonger had not only generously supported the campus expansion through financial donations, he also provided significant leadership at the state and local levels to secure additional funding sources in support of the expansion. “The college is extremely grateful for Scott’s unprecedented support of our efforts to improve our facilities for our students and this community,” Miksa


Walters State Niswonger Campus

said. “Without his support, vision and leadership, the college would not be in the position we are in today to meet the demands of our increasing student enrollment and offer new programs and expand existing ones that lead to in-demand jobs in our region.”

Walters State Niswonger Campus


Timeline of Walters State Presence in 1975

Creating New Opportunities

Walters State has provided affordable higher-education opportunities in Greene County for over 40 years. The college has grown from less than 100 students enrolled in Greene County each semester to over 1,100 students. Building additional space so that the college can continue to create new educational and career programs was the next step in the development of the downtown Greeneville campus. 1981





Walters State Niswonger Campus

1975 Offered Walters State classes for the first time in Greeneville at the Greeneville Middle School. 1978 Moved into a small commercial building on 11E. 1981 Moved into the historic Crescent School building. 1985 Moved into the Greeneville/Greene County Vocational Annex on Hal Henard Road.

Greene County 1995 The WSCC Greeneville/Greene County Center for Higher Education moved into the former Laughlin Memorial Hospital building in 1995 on 215 N. College Street. The property was acquired on behalf of the college in 1995 through a three-way partnership of the Town of Greeneville, Greene County and the college’s Foundation. 2006 In 2006, the state purchased the Walters State Greeneville/Greene


County Center for Higher Education from the Walters State Community College Foundation for $1 million.

2013 Construction started on a new 104,000-square-foot building.

2008 Laughlin Memorial Hospital donated to the Walters State Foundation the Laughlin Square property located next to the campus on North Main Street.

2017 New building opens to students during the fall 2017 semester.

2010 Walters State receives $9 million in capital outlay grant funds toward the construction of a new building.

2018 Tennessee Board of Regents renames the college’s Greeneville campus the Walters State Niswonger Campus in honor of Greeneville businessman and philanthropist Scott Niswonger.



Walters State Niswonger Campus


Building Design and Features The new 104,000-square-foot building on the Niswonger Campus was designed to complement the historical architecture of downtown Greeneville. Designed by John Fisher of Fisher and Associates, the building also incorporates and reflects architectural elements that are commonly used on historic college campuses located in Appalachia. Active Learning Spaces The new building features interior spaces that integrate technology and physical space to create a more active and engaging learning experience for instructors and students. Building Features: 4 Natural Science Labs 4 Allied Health Labs 1 Allied Health Simulation Lab 9 General Education Classrooms 4 Collaboratory Rooms 3 Computer Labs A Learning-Support Emporium A Learning Resource Center 234-seat Theatre Dining Hall Outdoor Amphitheater Public Safety Wing Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect With the Tennessee Promise for high school graduates and the new Tennessee Reconnect program for adult students, both of which provide two years tuition-free education at a community college, the expansion of Niswonger Campus could not have happened at a better time. The new space has enabled the college to accommodate enrollment growth related to the Tennessee Promise and the Tennessee Reconnect programs. Laughlin Memorial Hospital Donates Laughlin Square Property In 2008, Laughlin Memorial Hospital, Inc. (now Ballad Greeneville Community Hospital East) donated 10

Walters State Niswonger Campus

Laughlin Hospital Donation the Laughlin Square property to the college’s foundation. This property became the site for the new 104,000-square-foot building. “It is felt that the acquisition of this property will enable the college to expand its quality educational programs to better serve not only our city and county’s residents but also local industries and businesses,” Chuck Whitfield, thenpresident and CEO of Laughlin, said at the time of the donation. “We feel the college’s future success will be an integral part of our community and our hospital’s vision for the future.” With the construction of the new building, the college has added a new health program in Occupational Therapy Assistant and expanded its Physical Therapist Assistant program to the Niswonger Campus. Also housed in the new building are programs in nursing and respiratory care. “Laughlin has provided guidance and clinical opportunities for our health care programs, and the hospital’s donation clearly demonstrates their commitment to ensuring that the community we mutually serve is positioned to meet the area’s health care and other

workforce-development challenges and needs,” Walters State’s immediate past president, Dr. Wade McCamey, said when the donation was announced. WSCC Receives $9 Million Capital Outlay Grant In 2010, Tennessee earmarked funds for capital improvement projects at community colleges for the purpose of making higher education more accessible and to help reduce capacity constraints. Walters State identified its Greeneville/Greene County Campus as its most stressed facility and submitted a $20 million grant proposal to enhance accessibility to its programs and services through facilities improvement. Walters State was one of five Tennessee community colleges to receive the maximum $9 million in capital improvement grant funds. The grants were structured to encourage local community support by requiring a 15 percent match. Thanks to the generosity and leadership of Greeneville businessman and philanthropist Scott Niswonger, Walters State met the local match. Prior to receiving the capital outlay grant, Laughlin Memorial

Hospital in Greeneville had donated the Laughlin Square commercial property to the college. Valued at $1.1 million, this property would become the site for the new building. In addition to the $9 million and Niswonger’s initial match, the college raised enough funds to build out the entire shell of the building plus 35 percent of the interior. Walters State’s governing board, the Tennessee Board of Regents, recommended and approved a construction process that would allow for the entire shell of the building and 35 percent of the interior to be completed prior to opening. This approach gave the college the flexibility and opportunity to raise additional funds during construction and, if needed, after the building opened. Walters State opened over 40 percent of the new building to students in 2017 while it continued to acquire additional funds to complete the rest of the interior. The majority of the building as well as the exterior site development was completed by fall 2019. Governor Haslam Announces $1 Million Grant In 2014, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam held a press conference at the Walters State Greeneville/Greene County Campus to announce a $1 million grant to improve pedestrian mobility and safety at the campus.

Governor Haslam Announces $1 Million Grant The $1 million Tennessee Department of Transportation grant funded the development of new walkways at the site of a new 104,000-square-foot building. The walkways connect to entrances and sidewalks around the campus as well as to the Greeneville Historical Walkway. “These types of projects strengthen our communities,” Haslam said at the press conference. “We want Tennessee to continue to be the very best place to live, work and raise a family, and projects like these are key to making that a reality.”

The grant funds also will be used to improve safety through the enhancement of crosswalks on Main and College streets and install pedestrian lighting. “This grant will benefit not only Walters State students but also visitors to downtown Greeneville,” said then-Walters State president Dr. Wade McCamey. Walters State and the Town of Greeneville were co-applicants for the grant.

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Walters State Niswonger Campus


The new home of the Walters State Community College Niswonger campus has permanently enhanced the landscape and skyscape of downtown Greeneville. Designed to be a distinctive highlight of the surrounding cityscape while reflecting a classic styling fitting for a town founded in the 1780s, the new campus already is a beautifying landmark and pride point for its community and region.


Walters State Niswonger Campus

Walters State Niswonger Campus


Walters State Law Enforcement Academy Serves Region, State Through its East Tennessee Regional Law Enforcement Academy at the Niswonger Campus, Walters State’s Division of Public Safety provides essential training for cadets from departments across the state. Its curriculum has been used internationally. “We have sent some portion of our training to Queensland, Australia, Denmark, Germany and England,” said Jeff Gazzo, director of the law enforcement academy. Tennessee has 11 basic training academies, many operated by law enforcement departments, Gazzo said. Like Walters State, Cleveland State Community College also operates an academy. “What we do (at WSCC) is a hybrid” of academic and performancefocused training, Gazzo said. The first three weeks of the nine-week basic officer education program are filled with mostly academic classes, while the last six include more technical training, such as defensive driving, self-defense tactics, firearm training and the like. The curriculum can be adjusted for students who need more focus in particular areas, Gazzo said. A cadet with no military experience may need more time on some topics than veterans might, for example. Among the program’s strengths are instructors with real-world law enforcement experience, the director said. Gazzo himself began his career at the Greene County Sheriff’s Department in the 1990s and was a policeman in Atlanta for 10 years prior to joining Walters State. Students “want to talk to someone who has been there, and those 14

Walters State Niswonger Campus

conversations sometimes take place at lunch or in the halls, but they learn a lot in those conversations … you have to be genuine with them. The students want honest, straightforward answers to their questions.” One challenge is preparing students for the routine nature of much law enforcement work, Gazzo said. Cadets’ perceptions about the field often are based on media and entertainment portrayals, he said. Some drop out or change careers after realizing that reality does not match their earlier perceptions. Gazzo noted a “paradox of law enforcement: One minute, you may be taking a report about a stolen Weed Eater, and the next, responding to a bad traffic accident.” The basic program at WSCC includes 480-plus hours of instruction. An average student weekday begins at 5:30 a.m. and does not end until about 10:30 p.m. The academy typically offers four officer education programs a year and will graduate its 114th class during 2019. Students live at the academy from Sunday evening through Friday afternoon. Dormitory rooms are provided at the Greeneville campus. Students completing the program earn a technical certificate in basic law enforcement education and are eligible to apply for certification by the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission. The academy is a starting point, Gazzo said. “We are just the beginning, the foot in the door.”

After earning POST certification, officers must train annually to maintain certification. WSCC’s Division of Public Safety offers specialized training and programs to help officers meet that requirement. Those finishing training earn 23 credits toward an associate’s degree – an advantage in hiring, Gazzo noted.

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Niswonger Campus Building Includes Vision of Local Artists, Area’s Beauty Walters State’s new Niswonger Campus is designed to be an inviting reflection of the region and the people it serves. It is in that light that four paintings are to be displayed inside the building, depicting the beauty of Greene County. The large paintings are the result of a collaboration between four local artists known as the “Nolichucky River Valley Painters.” “The purpose of the group was to strengthen our art through discussion of our work,” Rebecca Scharding said of her partnership with her sister, Judith Plucker, and their fellow artists Joe Kilday and Mike Durham. “We want the art to be a benefit and to educate through a broader understanding of the importance of art to the life of our community.” Scharding said that Plucker, who died in May of 2018, presented the group with the idea for the project. “It was because of her commitment to community service,” Scharding said. “She approached the group with the idea that the four of us could work cooperatively on four large paintings to be installed in the new Walters State building.” Plucker lived to see most of her vision for the paintings completed. She was able to sign three of the completed works to which she contributed. Her dedication to sharing her passion for art with her community helped inspire the 16

Walters State Niswonger Campus

other artists to finish the job, with the fourth painting completed by Kilday. The paintings to which Plucker contributed include scenes depicting the Nolichucky River, the surrounding mountains and a family farm. “The fourth painting is mostly a huge cumulus cloud with lots of colors and swirls, and just a hint of landscape down at the bottom,” Kilday said. “The reason for that scene is because a cloud was descending on us with Judith’s death. If you never knew her, you missed something. She was a true lady and a true artist.” Kilday said the new Walters State building was planned with the large paintings in mind. “The architect included in the design four niches to fit these paintings in,” he said. “They measure about 5 feet by 6 feet.” Walters state provided the canvases and other materials needed. The

artists donated their time, talent and vision in the same way that they have for several other projects in Greeneville’s downtown. “It took a while,” Durham said. “Early on we would come over to Judith’s house and work on the paintings. We each contributed something, and would sometimes change something that someone else did. We had a good time and I’m glad there will be some art on the walls, because that makes all the difference.” Scharding said the four-way effort adds a unique quality to the paintings. “It’s our hope that these paintings will enhance the surroundings in that beautiful new building,” she said. “And perhaps inspire students and visitors to the campus with the beauty of the lovely landscapes all around us.”

Greene County Native Chosen as Dean Mark Wills has been named the dean of the Walters State Niswonger Campus. A Greene County native, Wills has served as interim dean since July 2018. He was selected as dean following a search process to fill the position. “Mark has served admirably in every position he has held at the college,” said Dr. Tony Miksa, president of Walters State. “His passion for students and his involvement in the community will ensure that the Niswonger Campus continues to grow and meet the educational and workforce needs of Greene and surrounding counties.” Wills was an adjunct computer and information science professor while a co-owner of Excalibur Computers in Greeneville during the late 1990s. He left to pursue a master’s in divinity at Vanderbilt University, but could not turn down an offer to return to the college full-time as a media specialist in 2011. In 2013, Wills was promoted to coordinator of instructional support and student success. Wills stepped into the dean’s role at a critical time. The new Niswonger Campus opened to students in fall 2017. This summer, landscaping

His goals as dean match the mission of Walters State: to increase the ability of students to earn a degree and succeed in the pursuit of their life and career goals. “Education is transformative,” Wills said. “It has changed my life, and I want others to have that experience. We have so many great programs and, with Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, so many students can attend tuition-free. I want to reach out and let everyone know those resources are available.”

Mark Wills and final interior touches were completed at the campus. “This is an exciting time to be at the Niswonger Campus,” Wills said. “I’ve enjoyed watching everything come together. We’ve got a great faculty and staff, and our students are wonderful.”

Wills is looking forward to working with business and industry leaders to identify new programs needed in the area. He cites the Occupational Therapist Assistant program, which just graduated its first class, as a program created to meet a need in the community. “The Physical Therapist Assistant program expanded to the Niswonger Campus this fall,” he said. “We are also looking at expanding our technical education offerings.”

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Workforce Training Program Serves Business, Industry, Citizens While Walters State Community College meets many of the area’s workforce development needs through degrees and certificates, the noncredit offerings of the Division of Workforce Training have always played a major role in Greene County. Classes are offered on both the Niswonger Campus and the Welding/ Advanced Manufacturing Building, located on West Andrew Johnson Highway. Many courses provide the skills for in-demand jobs in just a few weeks or months. Health care offerings are popular and include certified nursing aid, dental assistant, phlebotomist and EKG operator. The Division also

offers courses in welding and carbine operation. Computer classes give residents the ability to become experts in popular software such as Excel and QuickBooks. The most popular classes include the Society of Human Resource Management certification and various OSHA training course. The campus

also offers specialized professional development courses for law enforcement throughout upper East Tennessee. Customized classes for specific organizations or to meet a specific need in a community can be created and offered, usually in less than a month.


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Health Care Programs The Walters State Niswonger Campus provides much-needed health care paraprofessionals to all of East Tennessee. The space available at the new campus has made it possible to add occupational therapy assistant and physical therapist assistant programs. Occupational Therapy Assistant Walters State’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program is only offered at the Niswonger Campus and draws students from throughout the college’s service area. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Association. The first class graduated this spring with associate of applied science in occupational therapy assistant degrees. All of the students passed the rigorous licensure exam and had jobs waiting for them. “We began the process of developing this program after learning of the need for skilled occupational therapy assistants in East Tennessee,” said Marty Rucker, dean of health programs at Walters State. “The shortage is expected to continue as the need for occupational therapy grows. This is also a natural fit for our health programs, as many of our clinical partners need occupational therapy assistants, (OTA).” The name of the profession can be misleading, according to program

director Courtney Boren, a Greeneville native. “Occupational therapy helps individuals learn or relearn skills centered around functional performance,” Boren said. “It is not vocational therapy. In occupational therapy, occupation is defined as anything you do. OTAs could help you develop skills needed to make your breakfast or dress yourself.” OTAs work in hospitals, assisted living facilities, longterm care facilities, homes and schools. Many work with a variety of patients while others work with children, the elderly or in acute care. Income levels for occupational therapists

are comparable to those among registered nurses. Walters State is one of four community colleges offering occupational therapist assistant programs. The others are Roane State, Jackson State and Nashville State.

Walters State Niswonger Campus


Physical Therapist Assistant The Physical Therapist Assistant Program is one of the most popular and most rigorous academic programs at Walters State. Students are also among the most successful, with the past three graduating classes averaging an above 90% pass rate on the credentialing exam and an over 90% employment rate within six months of graduation. This program has been offered on the Morristown Campus for years and, beginning this fall, it was offered at the Niswonger Campus for the first time. “This is convenient for both students and clinical partners,” said health programs dean Marty Rucker. “Students from Greene and surrounding counties will find it much more convenient to drive to the Niswonger Campus. We will be in a better position to place students with our clinical partners in that area, too.” Physical therapist assistants work


Walters State Niswonger Campus

under the supervision of physical therapists in many areas of health care. Many teach patients exercises to improve or regain mobility, strength and coordination. They also teach patients how to use crutches, canes or walkers. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Graduates must pass the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination in order to practice. Respiratory Care Walters State’s Respiratory Care Program was one of the first health programs offered at the Niswonger Campus and continues to thrive. The Class of 2019 boasted a 100 percent pass rate on the registered respiratory therapist national exam and all found jobs in the field. This program provides a specialized

curriculum of care for anyone having breathing difficulty, with patients ranging from premature newborn infants to seniors receiving endof-life care. Initially, the program trained students to become certified respiratory therapists. In 2008, the program changed to the more challenging registered respiratory therapist track. With the RRT designation, graduates enter the field with greater responsibility and a higher salary. “The occupational outlook for this program is great, like other health care programs offered by Walters State,” Rucker said. “Baby boomers require more respiratory care services as they continue aging. In addition, many new treatments have expanded the field into many new areas. “This area has an increasing need for respiratory therapists in critical care units, in neonatel units and in long term care facilities.”

Nursing Walters State’s Nursing Program has long been considered one of the best in the state. The college began offering the program in Greeneville since 2008. Graduates have since consistently earned high employment rates and high rates for first-time passing the NCLEX, the national exam for licensing of registered nurses. “Our space in the new campus allows us to enhance learning for our students,� said Marty Rucker, dean of health programs at the college. “Instructors have more space and we are able to plan for future teaching initiatives such as simulation labs. “As with our other programs, having this program available in Greeneville is so convenient for students and clinical partners.�


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Aerial Photo Taken Before Construction Interior Construction The Final Brick! Crown Installation

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Profile for The Greeneville Sun

Walters State Niswonger Campus  

This 24-page magazine spotlights the Walters State Community College Niswonger Campus in Greeneville. © 2019 THE GREENEVILLE SUN | Greenevil...

Walters State Niswonger Campus  

This 24-page magazine spotlights the Walters State Community College Niswonger Campus in Greeneville. © 2019 THE GREENEVILLE SUN | Greenevil...