President's Message

This year’s Alabama Community College Association conference is quickly approaching and the Executive Committee is putting the finishing touches on what will be another successful conference. With that being said, your participation is greatly needed so I hope you are making plans to attend November 18-20 in Mobile.

The theme for this year's conference is "Embracing Change, Impacting Communities" and the Executive Committee has selected sessions that highlight some of the new initiatives that are taking place within the Alabama Community College System. Regardless of the position you hold at your college, I know that you will be able to find sessions relevant to your duties. In addition to the concurrent sessions, you will also hear from dynamic keynote speakers, commission speakers, and ACCS Chancellor Jimmy Baker.

For more information on this year's conference, please visit the ACCA website and click on the "Register Now" button. This will direct you to the conference website, a new feature that provides valuable information on the conference agenda, sessions, speakers, hotel, and answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Please take a few minutes to review this digital edition of the ACCA Journal which highlights news from around the System and the accomplishments of its employees. Once you examine some of the great things that are happening at member institutions, I hope you will choose to join us at this year’s conference if you have not already made plans to do so.

We look forward to your attendance at the 2018 ACCA Conference and I will see you in Mobile.

Russell Howton, Ph.D.

ACCA President

2018 ACCA Conference

The 2018 Alabama Community College Association Conference will be held Sunday, Nov. 18 – Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Mobile. The theme of this year’s conference will be “Embracing Change, Impacting Communities.” You may register for $175 beginning Sept. 1. After Nov. 1, registration will be $200. Check out the website for an agenda, speakers and hotel information.

2018 Conference Speakers

First General Session - Mr. Brad Montgomery

Second General Session - Dr. Mark Milliron

Chancellor's Address - Mr. Jimmy Baker

Commission on Administration - Dr. Mark Milliron

Commission on Faculty - Dr. Kenneth Lawrence

Commission on Students - Mr. Kelvin Redd

Commission on Support - Ms. Sharon Lovoy

Commission on Workforce Development - Mr. Al McCambry

ACCA Second Vice-President Candidates

Dr. Glenda Colagross

Dr. Glenda Colagross has served as President of Northwest-Shoals Community College since April of 2018; before being named President, she served as Interim President from October of 2017. Prior to coming back to the Shoals area, she served as Interim President of Southern Union State Community College from August of 2013 to October of 2017. Colagross went to Southern Union from Northwest-Shoals Community College, where she served as Vice President. Throughout her tenure at Northwest-Shoals and Southern Union, she has served in various leadership positions and spent time in the classroom.

Colagross’ educational background includes Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from the University of North Alabama; and a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from The University of Alabama.

Her professional honors and activities are representative of her broad base of leadership and academic credits. In 2013, she was elected to the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. One year later, she was named as one of six chairpersons of the 76-member SACSCOC Board of Trustees. She has also served on numerous SACSCOC review and reaffirmation committees including off-site, on-site, substantive change, and fifth-year interim report committees. She has presented at many higher education and leadership seminars and conferences. She is President-Elect of the Greater Shoals Rotary Club. She has previously been a member of the Wadley Kiwanis Club; the Opelika Chamber of Commerce; a board member for the Shoals Area Chamber of Commerce; and an executive board member of Easter Seals of Northwest Alabama. She has served as president of the Alabama Community College System’s Instructional Officers Association and was recognized as instructional officer of the year for the Alabama Community College System. She is a past Chancellor’s Award winner for the Alabama Community College System in both the instructor and administrator categories and is the Chairperson for the Commission on Administration for the Alabama Community College Association. Always an advocate for student success, Colagross has been a leader in implementing reverse transfer agreements throughout the state. These agreements between universities and community colleges allow students to apply credits earned at a four-year institution back to the community college in order to receive an associate degree.

Dr. Melinda Byrd-Murphy

Dr. Melinda Byrd-Murphy currently serves as the Dean of External Funding and Instructional Services at Coastal Alabama Community College. Prior to this role, she was the Dean of Instruction at Faulkner State Community College. With over twenty years in education, Dr. Byrd-Murphy has actively taught students at both the secondary and postsecondary level, directed the Alabama Center for Literary Arts, and chaired the English/Humanities/Social Sciences division at the former Alabama Southern Community College.

A first generation college student and product of the community college system herself, Dr. Byrd-Murphy holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Alabama, a master’s degree in English and Teaching from the University of West Alabama, an Educational Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Alabama, and an earned doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama.

She is a current participant in Leadership Baldwin County, a past participant and a graduate of the Alabama Community College Leadership Academy. She has chaired the Faculty Association for the Alabama Community College Association while serving on its Executive Committee. Additionally, she has held membership in the Association of College English Teachers of Alabama and Delta Kappa Gamma, the International Honor Society for Women. Dr. Byrd-Murphy was recognized in the Class of 2013 Chancellor’s Awards for Faculty and was named a Distinguished Advisor for Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society at the International Convention that same year. She is past board member of United Way and is currently serving on the Eastern Shore Chamber Commerce Board of Directors.

Jerry L. Dollar Receives Dean Emeritus Honor

On Wednesday, August 8, 2018, the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) Board of Trustees unanimously voted to confer the title of Dean Emeritus to longtime Bevill State Community College employee, Dean Jerry L. Dollar. Dean Dollar recently retired from Bevill State after 53 years of service.

Jerry L. Dollar is a long-time resident of Jasper, Alabama and graduated from Dora High School in 1954; attained a Bachelor of Science Degree from Florence State University in 1959; earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Alabama College in 1968; attained additional graduate coursework from Birmingham-Southern College in 1962-1964 and The University of Alabama in 1996. He has been a full-time employee at Bevill State Community College, UAB Walker College, and Walker College since 1965, having served as an Instructor of General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Physical Science and Mathematics; Dean of Students; Mathematics and Natural Sciences Department Chairperson; Provost and Dean of Academic and Student Services; Assistant Campus Dean; and Associate Dean of Academic Transfer Division.

“It has been a privilege to work with Dean Dollar for all of these years. During his tenure at the College, he has worked on every campus and in numerous capacities. He has impacted countless lives through his knowledge and concern for providing them with the highest quality education possible. I know that this has been his lifelong passion and will continue to be so” stated Dr. Kim Ennis, President of Bevill State.

Dollar has also contributed to the academic development of students by serving as a teacher in both the Walker County and Jefferson County public school systems in Alabama from 1959-1960; Visiting Professor for Organic Chemistry at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama from 1975-1979; and Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina in 1993. His commitment to academic excellence also include involvements as the Coordinator of Distance Learning for the Fayette Campus, Bevill State Community College; Consultant for The Science Center in Burbank, California; and, Member of Search Committees at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dollar gained additional academic and leadership skills through his distinguished military service, having served in the United States Army; graduating from the US Army Field Artillery Basic Officer Training; and from the US Army War College; beginning his service as a Supply Officer in Jasper, Alabama and advancing through ranks of Intelligence Officer, Inspector General, Deputy Chief of Staff, Reserve Component Team Chief, and Commandant, United States Army Reserve Forces School. Furthermore, he has been involved in a number of professional organizations and activities throughout his career, including: Vice President and Treasurer for Education and Talent Consulting Services; past member of the Walker County Arts Council; and as a Research Chemist.

“Dean Dollar has shown an unwavering commitment to education throughout his career. He has shown great dedication to Bevill State (formerly Walker College). Dean Dollar is well-known for his integrity and passion for student success. He has instructed many students who went on to lead productive professional careers, many of those becoming physicians, pharmacists, veterinarians, and the like. I believe him to be a true scholar and gentlemen. Thank you, Dean Dollar, for all you have given to Bevill State, and the many students whose lives you have touched and made better,” stated Matt Woods, ACCS Board of Trustee member for District 4, during the meeting on Wednesday.

“I would like to thank the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees. I am very honored to be awarded the title of Dean Emeritus, but at the same time I am humbled. I have always sought to present the best course taught anywhere, the mark of which would be the performance of those students after they left my classroom. I have always sought personal improvement in knowledge and delivery of the subject matter,” Dollar said during the meeting. Following his speech, Dean Dollar received a standing ovation.

Pictured to the left is Dean Dollar.

Bishop State leads Alabama in college completion initiative

Bishop State Community College President, Reginald Sykes, Ed.D., serves as the team lead for Complete College Alabama -- the 44th member of the Complete College America Alliance. Complete College America is a network of states, regions, and institutions focused on boosting student success and college completion. Complete College Alabama is committed to setting college attainment goals, collecting and reporting completion data, and pursuing Complete College America’s Game Changer strategies.

One of the strategies Bishop State is pushing is the 15 to Finish campaign. Through 15 to Finish, Bishop State faculty and staff encourage students to take 15 credit hours each fall and spring semester or a total of 30 credit hours per academic year to ensure an on-time graduation. Students who take more than the typical 12 credit hours each fall and spring semester can save more money now and earn more money in the future by graduating on time and starting a wage-earning career.

Bishop State partnered with the Mobile Area Education Foundation in 2015. From Fall 2015-Fall 2016 Bishop State saw a six percent increase in the number of students taking 15+ credit hours following the implementation of the 15 to Finish campaign. As of Spring 2017, 18.4% of Bishop State students are taking 15+ credit hours. After seeing the success of Bishop State, Alabama launched Complete College Alabama in partnership with Complete College America, and now the partnership has extended to include Coastal Alabama Community College and the University of South Alabama.

“Bishop State is proud to lead the way in this partnership with the 15 to Finish campaign,” says Bishop State President, Reginald Sykes, Ed.D. “Since first launching in 2016, our institution has already seen a great increase in the number of students taking 15 credit hours each year, and we look forward to seeing that number continue to grow through this collaboration.”

“Each additional semester needed to graduate increases the overall cost to students and their families and the likelihood that they may not ultimately reach their goal,” said Complete College America Vice President Dhanfu Elston. “CCA is proud to support MAEF and these three colleges in their effort to save students precious time and money, ultimately leading to the achievement of more degrees and credentials of value.”

Bishop State is also a partner in Mobile’s 75,000 Degrees initiative. The community-wide collaborative is designed to increase post-secondary attainment and to double the number of Mobile citizens with post-secondary degrees/credentials by the year 2030. Obtaining a post-secondary degree or credential is a leading contributor to improving the overall wellbeing of Mobile County citizens. The work of 75,000 Degrees and 15 to Finish is made possible by MAEF’s partnership with Complete College America and Lumina Foundation.

The presidents of the University of South Alabama, Bishop State Community College, and Coastal Alabama Community College surrounded by student representatives for the launch their 15 to Finish partnership as a Lumnia Foundation Talent Hub with Complete College America to ensure 75,000 degrees in the Mobile region by 2030.

CACC Truck Driving Student becomes First Certified Deaf Truck Driver

Joey Woodle has dreamed of becoming a truck driver since he was a child. Considering his dad and uncle both drove trucks, he was constantly around the industry. Now at the age of 50, Joey finally decided to take the next step and enroll in Central Alabama Community College's Truck Driver Training Program. This was a big step in his life, but one that didn't come without several hurdles. So why is this story different than any other story about a student one might ask? Nothing other than Joey happens to be deaf. Joey refused to let his disability be a hurdle he couldn't overcome and on May 9th he became the first deaf student in the state of Alabama to be certified to drive an 18 wheeler by earning his Class A CDL.

"Today was an exciting day for me, " Woodle said.

"I was very nervous at first but once the classes started I knew I could do it. I have been encouraging all of my friends who are deaf to come on and sign up as well. I have told them how awesome this experience was and that they can get certified too."

Woodle has been working with Quentin Morris, who serves as his vocational rehabilitation case manager through the Alabama Department of Rehab Services, throughout the process. He expressed to Morris that his dream job was to one day be a trucker so together they began the process of getting Woodle in position to make that dream come true. Before Woodle could even register for the program he had to receive a health waiver and permit due to his disability. After a 6 month waiting period, Woodle received the permit and was cleared to move forward.

Willie Brooks, truck driver instructor at CACC, really commended Woodle and spoke about how much he enjoyed having him as a student.

"I don't know who was more nervous at the beginning, me or Joey," Brooks stated.

"I had to learn some of the hand signs, but once I did, teaching Joey was like teaching any other student. He was a great student and really picked up on things quickly. I have no doubt he will be a successful trucker."

An integral and key part to Woodle having success in the course and ultimately passing the exam were the interpreters, Liz Spiller and Carol Smelo, who were there every step of the way.

"This will go down as one of my biggest challenges, but also one of my most rewarding experiences," Spiller said.

"I have learned so much through this process. I think I could even pass the test now. This was an incredible experience and I am very proud of him."

Now that Woodle has completed the program and has earned his Class A CDL, he is ready to hit the open road and go to work.

"I worked really hard for six weeks to get ready for the test," Woodle said.

"I studied and studied because I wanted to learn and now I can get a job and get out on the road. Now I have my CDL I can do that. I want to thank Quentin, Liz, and my instructor Willie. I am so thankful for everyone."

Joey Woodle, left, has dreamed of becoming a truck driver since he was a child. He's pictured with CACC Truck Driver Instructor Willie Brooks.

After 37 years as president of Coastal Alabama Community College, Dr. Gary Branch to retire

“I love students.”

In an emotional address to Coastal Alabama Community College employees, during which he announced his upcoming retirement, President Gary Branch said that simple statement summed up what he hoped would be his legacy after 37 years of leadership.

Branch, soon to turn 76, noted he has spent half his life as president of the College, going back to when it was known as Faulkner State Junior College and consisted of only the Bay Minette campus. In contrast, Coastal Alabama now includes 10 campuses, and overall 16 instructional sites.

And his September 29 retirement will conclude a career of more than 50 years as a higher education administrator.

With his wife seated a few feet away in the L.D. Owen Performing Arts Center on the main campus, Branch remembered his first act as president of the school, back in 1981: the removal of a Confederate flag prominently displayed behind the desk in the president’s office.

“I wanted this institution to be a place where every student felt welcome,” he said, fighting back tears.

When he was first hired at then-Faulkner State, Branch said he had the unenviable responsibility to balance the budget which, for a school in the midst of a financial crisis, involved a “reduction in force” which cost 13 employees their jobs out of a total staff pool that included less than 50. After a short period, Branch employed nearly all of those employees back.

“I’ve never had another one,” he said. “And I’m very proud of that.”

Branch humbly downplayed many of his accomplishments over his four decades leading the College, at times pointing to the faculty and staff sitting before him, saying it was their professionalism and dedication that served Coastal Alabama's students in the way they deserved.

“I give you the support that you need, the encouragement that you need,” Branch said. “But I don’t do it, you do it.

“And I’m so proud that I had the wisdom and the ability to offer you a career.”

When he was hired, Faulkner State had barely 1,100 students, all reporting to the Bay Minette campus. And there were so many potential enrollees who could not register, because the school was just too far a drive once the responsibilities of jobs and families had been met on any given day. Thus campuses in Fairhope and Gulf Shores were established to serve the people of Baldwin County and expanding the enrollment by thousands.

Now, throughout Coastal Alabama Community College’s total footprint in south Alabama, enrollment is nearing 8,000 across 10 counties, he said.

As he considered his legacy in the days since deciding to retire, Branch mused on several initiatives he helped bring about during his tenure. They included the annual Student Leadership Retreat, known as the Gatlinburg Getaway; the Black Ministerial Dinner, with its accompanying scholarships; the Counselor’s Dinners, welcoming high school counselors; and the creation of a women’s intercollegiate softball league, which later included the construction of one of the most impressive softball stadiums in the state. He also helped start the College’s Scholar’s Bowl, which brings students from 34 high schools to the College each year and is “the best recruiting tool we have.”

Perhaps the three most significant initiatives Branch has been involved in throughout the last few decades are his appointment as chair of the committee that created STARS (Statewide Transfer Articulation & Reporting System), which allows two-year college students to transfer to universities across the state; Coastal Alabama’s inclusion as a beneficiary of state sales tax revenue in Baldwin County; and the merger of three independently accredited institutions into Coastal Alabama Community College.

The latter has coincided with the emergence of some health issues for Branch, which have required three major surgeries, with another possible in the coming months.

“The past two years have been the most difficult of my life,” he said. “Not because of the consolidation, but because of the health issues that I’ve had.”

His family, as well as his doctors, have implored him to simplify his life, or else the consequences could be dire, Branch said. So he penned a letter to Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy Baker, announcing his retirement.

Pausing throughout due to overwhelming emotions, Branch read the letter to his employees, chronicling how a once-broke junior college now enjoyed unprecedented financial health and enrollment, with an annual operational budget of $128 million.

The letter ended with Branch writing, “Thank you, and I do accept your kind offer to continue serving our System under your leadership by working with you on special projects.”

He explained that Baker has given him the opportunity to work with institutions around the state who are having issues, primarily with student services since his passion and background are in student affairs.

“It has been a high privilege and honor to have been a part of thousands of students' lives for all these years,” he read.

Branch then addressed his employees, likely for the final time en masse, confident that they will show his successor the same loyalty and dedication that they showed him.

“I know you will, because I’ve experienced that,” he said. “So to whoever it is who follows me, I can just say that I’m leaving this college in a whole lot better shape than it was in when I arrived.”

“And this is considered to be one of the crown jewels in our system because of the things we do together.”

At a standing ovation from employees, President Branch waved to those who he has spent so many years with. Those same employees will continue the culture Branch established – to love students.

Pictured to the left is Dr. Gary Branch.

J.F. Drake State Community College celebrate Lyndria Cooper’s selection to the CISCO Dream Team for the 2nd year!

Last year, Drake State’s own Lyndria Cooper was selected out of more than 60 applicants from across the United States and Canada who were recommended by their instructors to represent the local colleges’ CISCO academy at the Cisco Live event. Lyndria participated on the CISCO Dream Team which is Cisco’s most significant customer event. This event was held in Las Vegas with over 26,000 attendees.

The Dream Team participants experience a unique development opportunity to work hands-on with industry leaders to deploy and support the Network Operations Center (NOC). The event participants put in hard work and long hours, but the experience was invaluable.

Now in the 8th year of the CISCO Live event, Lyndria has been invited to participate as a team coach due to her demonstration of quality networking talent that she develop here at Drake State in our certified CISCO Academy. Drake State is producing quality CISCO talent that stands out among the best in the nation.

This year, Lyndria will be returning to the CISO Live event as a team captain. She will receive an all-expense paid trip to Orlando, Fl., for ten days to assist the selected participant to help navigate through the CISOC Live experience.

Congratulations to Drake State Student Lyndria Cooper!!!

Lyndria Cooper is pictured with CIS Faculty Members Ronald Egson, left, and Deloris Smothers, right.

New CDL training announced for ESCC

On June 7, 2018, Enterprise State Community College announced it will lead the region’s new commercial driver’s license and commercial learner’s permit training at the Alabama Aviation College in Ozark. The six-week training continues the College’s mission of promoting and creating programs which directly meet the integral needs of the region’s workforce.

Enterprise State President Matt Rodgers said we are quickly adapting to what is being demanded from local industry.

“This program is a great example of how local state government, industry, and the Alabama Community College System is working as one to meet the needs of our region. We are pleased to offer this training for our region of the state.” he said.

Governor Kay Ivey applauded Enterprise State for thinking toward the future and having the initiative to establish a CDL program at the Alabama Aviation College.

“Truck Driving is a high demand job annually and we strive to make sure our workforce is ready for the jobs that come. This program fulfills that goal and continues to improve Alabama’s workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.” Governor Ivey said.

Representative Martha Roby thinks the program is another great example of how Enterprise State Community College is expanding and developing to continue to meet the needs of the Wiregrass region, the Second Congressional District, and the entire State of Alabama. She stated, “I am proud of this new development, and I am always impressed by ESCC’s constant forward progress to offer opportunities that develop our region’s workforce.”

CDL training for the Class A license and endorsements will provide instruction on the required driver license testing information and training required by federal regulation for Alabama’s licensing of commercial driving standards. Students enrolled in the training will experience both written and on-the-road training that prepares drivers for varying positions within the trucking industry.

Dean of Instruction Danny Long said providing the instruction in an academic environment ensures that the integrity of the curriculum and level of instruction will be high quality.

“Certified truck drivers have an awesome responsibility to keep themselves and other drivers safe, and we are committed to producing quality graduates. This will be a tremendous opportunity to serve one of our community’s greatest workforce demands and provide a more convenient situation for our residents to enter a high wage profession,” he said.

A collaboration among regional trucking business leaders and college officials throughout Alabama has resulted in a customized, focused approach to CDL training at AAC that creates awareness of several high-demand employment options within the trucking industry.

According to the Alabama Department of Labor and Statistics, an additional 100 positions were filled in a year’s time within Dothan area transportation, warehousing and utilities jobs, with 3,400 workers within those areas. Nationally, an estimated 570,000 individuals worked as industrial truck and tractor operators last year, with a mean hourly wage of $17 per hour.

“Community is at the very center of everything we do and ensuring Alabamians are trained for available jobs in their communities is an important part of our System’s mission,” Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker said. “With several trucking companies in the area looking to hire skilled and qualified workers and pay them a good wage, Enterprise State Community College and the Alabama Aviation College are responding to local needs and providing important opportunities for the community they serve.”

The Alabama Aviation College will offer 8 CDL training courses per year. The first 6-week CDL training begins Fall 2018. Students interested in the program can contact Jenna Judah, Recruiter at the Alabama Aviation College, 334-347-2623 x3630 or email jjudah@escc.edu, for more information.

Left to Right: Nick Moore, Education Policy Advisor for the Governor; Representative Donnie Chesteen, House District 87; Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker; ESCC President Matt Rodgers; Representative Steve Clouse, House District 93; Bob Bunting, Mayor of Ozark, AL; Ryan Richards, Director of Workforce Development, ‎Southeast AlabamaWorks

Gadsden State breaks ground for two renovation projects, new construction

Gadsden State Community College hosted groundbreaking ceremonies for construction projects taking place on three of its campuses. The projects are being funded by a $25 million bond issue approved by the Alabama Community College System in March 2017.

“We are excited about the new construction and renovation projects, which are aligned with Gadsden State’s strategic plan,” said Dr. Martha Lavender, president of Gadsden State. “The projects address the College’s infrastructure needs of aging facilities so that our students have a comfortable environment conducive to learning.”

There were two groundbreaking ceremonies on July 26 with the first one being at the Ayers Campus, where an addition to the Cheaha Career Center is being constructed. The second ceremony took place at the East Broad for the construction of a new science building and the renovations at Allen Hall on the Wallace Drive Campus.

“The addition to the Cheaha Career Center addresses the need for additional general education classes that support our technical and transfer programs,” Lavender said. “We are adding eight classrooms, six offices and a 140-seat lecture hall that will double as a tornado shelter.”

The new science building will replace the 51-year-old Browder Hall, which is located on the Wallace Drive Campus. Browder Hall has space and technology limitations.

“The new building will have over 57,000-square-feet of classrooms, laboratories, offices, an auditorium and a tornado shelter,” she said. “In addition, the science building essentially unifies the Wallace Drive and East Broad campuses.”

Renovations to Allen Hall, the oldest building on the Wallace Drive Campus, include upgrading bathrooms, electrical plumbing and heating/cooling systems. It will serve students in 22 classrooms and labs and two student gathering areas. There will also be 42 offices and three reception areas.

“The renovation also enhances energy efficiencies of Allen Hall,” Lavender said.

She estimated the completion timeline for all three projects to be the summer of 2019. The buildings should be placed in service before the start of the fall semester 2019.

“At Gadsden State, we focus on the 3 I’s – instruction, infrastructure and institution,” Lavender said. “Our priorities are not only quality educational programming but also continuous improvement. The construction projects are just one way we continue to improve the educational experience for our students.”

State and local leaders break ground for the new science building on the East Broad Campus in Gadsden. Picture are, from left, Sherman Guyton, mayor of Gadsden; Matthew Woods, ACCS Board of Trustees – District 4; Dr. Martha Lavender, Gadsden State president; Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City); Rep. Mack Butler (R-AL 30th District); Boone Kinard, special assistant to the Chancellor for Governmental Affairs; Carolyn Parker, Etowah County commissioner; and James Manasco, district field representative for Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama).
Members of Gadsden State Community College’s Cabinet break ground for the new addition to the Cheaha Center at the Ayers Campus in Anniston. Pictured are, from left, Pam Johnson, dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Grants and Special Projects; Stewart Davis, director of Physical Plant; Dr. Deborah Curry, dean of Health Sciences; Dr. Martha Lavender, president; Tim Green, dean of Workforce Development and Technical Education; Dr. Leslie Worthington, dean of Academic Programs and Services; Tim Smith, chief information officer; and Dr. Teresa Rhea, dean of Enrollment and Retention.

The Ingram State Technical College Foundation Receives Central Alabama Community Foundation Award

Recently, the Ingram State Technical College Foundation received a $6,250 grant award from the Central Alabama Community Foundation.

The ISTC Foundation was one of 13 River Region nonprofits to receive funds as part of CACF’s Family Wellness and Education competitive grants initiative.

“We appreciate the vision of the CACF board of directors in recognizing that many of our students need extra assistance to enter the workforce on equal footing, and their generosity in awarding these funds,” said ISTC President Annette Funderburk.

Foundation Liaison Dr. Brannon Lentz said the funds will be used to assist ISTC graduates with expenses related to starting a job. “The grant will allow us to help graduates with licensure or certificate costs, tools and equipment, even safety gear if needed. Our goal is to ensure that students have basic resources needed to succeed on the job.”

Lentz said the funds will allow the foundation to assist a minimum of 25 ISTC graduates during the coming year.

(from left) Central Alabama Community Foundation president Burton Crenshaw and The Ingram State Technical College Foundation Liaison Dr. Brannon Lentz.

Keith Brown Selected as President of Jefferson State Community College

At the June Alabama Community College System board of trustees meeting, Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker announced the selection of Keith Brown as president of Jefferson State Community College.

Brown has served Jefferson State for nearly 20 years, most recently in the role of Interim President. His tenure at the college has been marked by his commitment to expanding and maintaining partnerships with community leaders, business and industry, education institutions, and elected officials. Additionally, his commitment to fostering a positive work environment has been recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education with Jefferson State being named a ‘Great College to Work For’ in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

“As a Jefferson State alumnus who has dedicated his career to improving the lives of the college and its students, I can think of no individual more qualified for the role of president than Keith,” said Baker. “Keith is highly regarded as a capable and compassionate leader not only within the college but with the greater community and I’m confident that under his direction Jefferson State will continue its exemplary reputation of providing education and training opportunities for all those looking to better their lives.”

Prior to serving as Interim President, Brown served as Dean of Campus Development and Campus/Legal Services and also spent time in the classroom as a Business Law Instructor. Brown also serves in the Alabama Air National Guard as a Colonel and Staff Judge Advocate. Brown has an Associate of Arts from Jefferson State Community College, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alabama, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Alabama School of Law. Additionally, Brown has received training at the United States Air Force Air War College, the senior Air Force professional military school.

“It is an honor to continue to serve the thousands of students, hundreds of faculty, staff, and administrators, and the greater Birmingham community as President of Jefferson State Community College,” Brown said. “I would not be where I am today had my path not started at Jefferson State and I am committed to helping as many people as I can to recognize their potential through the work we do every day. JSCC is near and dear to my heart and it is truly a privilege to be selected to serve in this capacity.”

Pictured to the left is Keith Brown.

Lawson State Takes A Lead in Everyone Can Code Program

Lawson State Community College was a proud participant in helping Apple expand its Everyone Can Code initiative to Birmingham following the April 4 campus visit by CEO of Apple, Tim Cook. Everyone Can Code operates as a curriculum designed by Apple with the belief that anyone can learn, write and teach code. Lawson State currently offers three Apple Swift coding classes within its Computer Science program—making the college a natural fit to be the launch pad for the Birmingham Can Code initiative led by the City of Birmingham in conjunction with Birmingham City Schools.

The first of four free coding boot camps kicked off the week of June 18 with 26 students from area high schools filling up the Swift Coding lab located in Lawson State’s Perry W. Ward Alabama Center for Advanced Technology and Training building.

Dr. Kesha James, Director of Distance Education, led the first and third weeks of the high school boot camps while Mrs. Eula Todd, Manager of Title III, led the second and fourth weeks of the middle school boot camps—with both groups of students being educated in some form of the Swift Programming Language while using app development software.

Through interactive, hands-on labs and guided projects, the high school participants received practical experience with tools, techniques, and concepts to build a basic iOS app from scratch. By the end of the program, the students were able to successfully build an app using Xcode. Dr. James stated, “These students attended the coding boot camp with little to no experience, and we were able to equip them with the necessary knowledge to learn coding for app development. I am very proud to say we achieved the aim of the Birmingham Can Code initiative.”

The middle school students were introduced to basic coding concepts and terminology by using the Swift Playground App and iPads. Students favored the use of Dash Robots, which provided hands-on training for them to learn how to write lines of code to maneuver the robots across the classroom. “As the strength of a building lies in its foundation, a student’s ability to succeed in coding also requires a good foundation. The goal of the middle school boot camp was to lay a firm foundation on which students could build their coding knowledge,” said Mrs. Todd.

In addition to learning the basics of coding, these students had the opportunity to enhance their presentation and leadership skills while learning to work in teams.

One hundred students registered to be in attendance, with a total of fifteen middle schools and ten high schools represented at the close of the boot camp. Although the program was initially only opened to students from the Birmingham City Schools System, the reach of the summer coding boot camp expanded to incorporate attendees from schools across other cities of Jefferson County including Chelsea, Center Point, Fairfield, Homewood, Hoover, Hueytown, Moody, Midfield and Pleasant Grove.

Lawson State President Perry Ward and Apple CEO Tim Cook toured the Lawson State facilities for the Swift Coding Program.
High School students participate in the Everyone Can Code summer program.

LBWCC program unique in Alabama

LBW Community College’s diesel and heavy equipment mechanics program is the only two-year college program in Alabama currently offering instruction on repair of compressed natural gas (CNG) engines to meet the evolving needs of the trucking industry, according to officials.

“In June, UPS (United Parcel Service) announced it is ordering 730 CNG vehicles and building five additional domestic CNG fueling stations,” said LBWCC President Dr. Herb Riedel. “We are currently the only college in Alabama prepared to meet the changing needs of the industry by training students to maintain and repair these types of engines.”

In the announcement by UPS, the company and its rivals, such as FedEx Corp and DHL delivery businesses, face pressure from regulators in major cities around the world to lessen the environmental impact of fleets.

“As more and more delivery and transportation fleets transition to alternative CNG engines, LBWCC’s program graduates will be qualified to fill industry employment needs for maintenance and repair. This is a great example of how LBWCC’s technical program training stays current with the needs of industry,” said Riedel.

LBWCC expanded diesel and heavy equipment mechanics training on the MacArthur Campus in Opp to a two-year Associate in Applied Science Degree program, which includes seven credit hours of natural gas engine repair courses in addition to 22 credit hours of transferrable general education courses. Total credit hours required for the degree in this program is 71.

Eddie Spann, LBWCC faculty in the diesel and heavy equipment mechanics program, said area businesses and organizations helped with the additional training requirements.

“The heavy equipment repair program received training equipment donations from business and industry in our service area,” he said.

“A grant from the National Science Foundation provided means for natural gas curriculum development and professional development of our instructors to teach the new courses.”

In addition, a Workforce Grant awarded by Alabama Community College System provided funds to purchase two natural gas engine trainers and two late model diesel engine trainers along with specialty tools and supplies for the natural gas engine lab.

For the natural gas portion of the curriculum, students are required to take and pass an initial one-credit hour natural gas safety course, followed by 12 contact hours in hands-on activities and two contact hours of classroom instruction per week, he said.

For more information on the diesel and heavy equipment mechanics program, contact Spann, program instructor, at 334.493.5322 or email at espann@lbwcc.edu.

LBW Community College’s Shaun Moore, left, and Eddie Spann, diesel and heavy equipment mechanics program faculty, have incorporated courses on compressed natural gas to prepare students for an emerging trend toward CNG engines in transportation fleets.

MMI Honor Guard Conducts Wreath-Laying at Tomb of Unknown Soldier

On Sept. 8, two members of Marion Military Institute’s honor guard were privileged to present the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Representing MMI were Corps of Cadets Battalion Commander Morgan Gaither and Honor Guard Commander Johanna Thompson, accompanied by MMI TAC Officer SFC Kent James, USA (Ret).

For over 175 years, MMI has been developing young leaders of character. A great many of these young men and women have gone on to serve our country in times of peace and war, with many giving their last full measure of devotion for the causes of freedom and liberty. MMI takes great pride in being the oldest military junior college in the country with a deep well of history and tradition to back up our strong feelings of loyalty and respect to this institution.

Our decision to conduct an annual wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery is the perfect way for our Corps of Cadets to pay homage to our country and its military in the seat of our nation’s capital, to include all those from our long line of cadets who also paid the ultimate price for their country.

MMI plans to make this an annual event, to take place around September 11. The Honor Guard will select two of their outstanding members to lay the wreath as representatives of the Corps of Cadets. The original idea to lay the wreath was made in 2018 by David Kelly Jr, the parent of a cadet.

The event is made possible by MMI’s newly created Anthony J. Rane Center for Leadership, named in memory of the father of Jimmy Rane (MMI class of 1964).

MMI Cadets Gaither and Thompson conduct a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.


One of the most outstanding characteristics of American community colleges is how they can so quickly and effectively adapt to serve their communities. What Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) did during the country’s Great Recession is a perfect example of this. Because of shifting trends in the American textile industry, the college’s service area was hit even harder by the downturn in the American economy that began in 2007. At its peak, some 10,000 people were employed in the textile industry in one of the county’s (DeKalb) served by the college. The sharp downtown in employment in the textile industry during this time brought the number employed down to some 1,250 within a few next years. By 2010 the overall unemployment rate in Jackson County had reached 13 percent and 16 percent in DeKalb County in 2011.

Many of these and other unemployed workers in the college’s service area of DeKalb and Jackson counties turned to NACC. The workers sought education and retraining for new jobs and careers in order that they and their families could survive financially. Since so many textile plants were moving outside the country, many of these unemployed workers qualified for Trade Readjustment Act (TRA) benefits, a federal government program that provided funding for educational benefits for workers whose jobs were affected by foreign imports. Other unemployed employees qualified for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds, which also provided educational benefits for workers who need training to reenter the workforce.

“Because of these opportunities, hundreds of people turned to Northeast to restart their work lives,” stated NACC President Dr. David Campbell. “One year the college had approximately six hundred students who were receiving either TRA or WIA grants for retraining.”

Campbell pointed out that the retraining process was a team effort with local agencies. Local Career Centers helped get unemployed workers eligible for retraining, as did state employment offices. State agencies like ADECA came in to help as well. “Our area was faced with a massive economic problem,” Campbell said, “and it took many different agencies working together to deal with the issues.”

The college was able to initiate specific programs to assist not only these students in their retraining. For example, knowing that many of these students would need help in making a decision about what new field to go into, the college applied for and received a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to establish and staff a Career Laboratory that could help people make a decision about what new career they wanted to pursue. The costs of the Career Laboratory eventually were absorbed by the college and it still exists, helping not only nontraditional students but traditional students and community members as well.

Knowing that many nontraditional students might need help with the emerging computer technology, the college obtained a Title III federal grant. Money from this grant was used to establish and staff a Technology Learning Center (TLC) in which students received assistance in how to operate personal computers and software. Again the college eventually financially absorbed the TLC and it too today remains a part of NACC. To help students in those factories that were closing, the college also set up Adult Education courses in factories through which workers could receive their high school equivalency certifications. To assist their workers, a number of factories provided space, equipment, and computers for the courses.

As the economy improved, and as workers became retrained, the number of NACC students receiving WIA or TRA grants began decreasing. In 2010-2011, for example, 593 NACC students were receiving WIA (309) or TRA (284) grants. By 2016-2017 this number had dropped to 88 (1 TRA and 87 WIA).

“One thing we were careful about,” Campbell stated, “was that we knew the number of TRA and WIA students we were getting would be temporary, or at least we hoped it would be. So we did not over staff or over spend during this time period. We knew the additional money we were getting in the form of tuition through TRA/WIA was temporary and would not last indefinitely.”

The college, officials think, was in a position to really assist area students during this period. In anticipation of the need for more career tech/technology training, the college had initiated and established many new programs prior to the recession. Included among the programs established or added during this time were industrial maintenance, machining tool technology, welding technology, instrumentation, salon and spa management, cosmetology, massage therapy, medical assisting, criminal justice, and childhood development to go along with programs that already existed such drafting and design technology, industrial electronics, office administration, paralegal studies, paramedic studies, emergency medical services, and nursing. (HVAC-R and a construction program have since been added.) The college through various contracts also offered various non-credit programs which could lead to jobs. As early as 2005 NACC had opened a Workforce Development Center on campus and converted its Technology Division to a Workforce Development Division. “Our Workforce staff did an outstanding job helping the college get these programs in place, then up and running,” Campbell said. “They also helped greatly with the paperwork of the WIA and TRA programs.”

In order to help determine the impact the college had during these very trying times, NACC officials recently conducted a survey to find out results. NACC Director of Institutional Research Brad Fricks recently conducted this survey, which included a questionnaire mailed to some TRA students enrolled at the college in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years. “We knew that it was approaching a decade since these students had attended Northeast and that addresses were likely to have changed,” Fricks said. “But we did get responses back from a number of these former students.” In all, 81 percent of those who responded said that their experience had helped them find new or better employment. Among the comments were: “I lost my job in 2009 and being a 40-year old I was able to enter and complete the LPN and the RN program which led to a career of a lifetime. Thank you for the degree.” Another respondent stated: “My education at NACC opened the door . . . and has afforded me all the opportunities to advance to the position I now enjoy.” Another said: “Students come from all walks of life. NACC provides an environment of caring, respectful, highly qualified faculty to help with each and every need.” And lastly: “I received a paralegal degree then went to get my real estate license. The knowledge from NACC helped and still helps my profession.” In all 90 percent of the respondents said that they achieved their goals at Northeast and 71 percent agreed the college had prepared them to enter the workforce. Only a few of the respondents described their experiences as negative.

“I don’t know as we got enough information back to form any final conclusions,” Fricks said. “But all in all what we got back was very positive.”

Campbell added that the survey results were very gratifying. “It is rewarding to think that the college helped people during some very stressful times,” he said. “We had to respond quickly and our faculty, staff, and administrators did just that. I like to think that with experience and improved resources, we are capable of doing even more to help today. Of course, we are still very much involved in academic transfer, workforce training, and adult education today. But that recession period did present some real challenges. I am proud of the way everyone at Northeast responded to these economically stressful times.”

During the recession period, local agencies and elected officials worked diligently to bring in new work opportunities for area residents. Such economic development agencies as the DeKalb County Economic Development Authority and Jackson County Economic Development Authority were involved in this, working with local and state officials. These efforts have paid off as the economy has improved. DeKalb County how has an unemployment rate of 3.9% and the unemployment rate in Jackson County is 4.1%.1 There is even an increase in the number of those working in the textile industry – up to some 1,500 now in DeKalb County from the low point of 1,250. (Some local textile companies, such as Maples Industry in Jackson County, pushed through the recession years and did not move or close. Maples remains Jackson County’s largest employer.) Through all these efforts, economic conditions are looking up in the area, particularly with industry giant Google now having a $600 million data center plant under construction in Jackson County. “Our job now is to train the next wave of workers in our area to make certain they are prepared for the new type jobs that are emerging,” Campbell concluded. “We want them to be ready for the new workforce/technology of the future.”

Pictured is Dr. David Campbell, President of NACC.

NW-SCC and Florence City Schools to launch the Early College Program this fall

Florence City Schools and Northwest-Shoals Community College (NW-SCC) have partnered to offer Florence High School students (beginning in ninth grade) the Early College Program beginning this fall.

According to Florence City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jimmy Shaw, the impact this initiative can have on the lives of the students at Florence High School is amazing. “This program is not only a partnership between Florence City Schools and Northwest-Shoals Community College, but it is a partnership between education and the community,” said Shaw.

“This has the potential to create a pipeline of college and/or career ready students, with no to very little debt, and supply our communities with the prepared workforce that is needed. This will prepare and equip our students grab their future today.”

Florence and NW-SCC will begin the program with three primary career pathways available to students: General Liberal Arts (Associate in Arts Degree), Medical Assisting Technology (Associate in Applied Science Degree), and Welding (Associate in Occupational Technology Degree.

“We are so excited to help Dr. Shaw and Florence High School launch the new Early College Program,” said NW-SCC President, Dr. Glenda Colagross. “This program can help students on their career pathway at an early age and build our workforce with highly qualified students. It is a win-win for our community and local business and industry.”

The program is designed to provide motivated students a head start on their college program, tuition free. It is modeled after a similar program at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) Early College High School in Texas. Representatives from NW-SCC and Florence visited the program during the fall of 2017.

“This will make Florence High School the first true Early College High School in the state of Alabama as far as our research can find,” stated Shaw.

Medical Assisting Technology is one of the programs offered through the Early College Program at Florence High School.

Moore Brings a Legacy of Excellence to New Dean Position

When Jason Moore was recently named Dean of Economic and Workforce Development at Shelton State Community College, his designation represented a full circle moment for one of the College’s own. As the son of a longtime instructor, a former student, and a dedicated employee, Moore brings a legacy of excellence to the position and a continued commitment to the mission of the institution and to the opportunities available through career technical education.

In the fall of 1988, Dean Moore enrolled as a student at Shelton State Community College as many other college freshmen do – without certainty about his future career path. With his father, Jack, already an instructor in the Computerized Numerical Control program at the College, he ultimately developed an interest in the Machine Tool Technology program. Although initially hesitant about enrolling in a program where his father’s expectations might be high, he found a passion for what he was learning and completed both the Machine Tool Technology and Computerized Numerical Control programs.

Because the skills he learned were in high demand, Moore was quick to be employed. Serving in positions at local companies in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, he found his work both lucrative and fulfilling. During this time, Moore taught industry classes at Shelton State for the Training for Business and Industry area and was encouraged to seek additional education. He continued to work in the industry, but ultimately completed his four-year degree at Athens State.

Following completion of his degree, Moore accepted a position with AIDT as an instructor at the Mercedes-Benz Institute and created a new apprenticeship program. When a full-time teaching position in the Machine Tool Technology program opened at Shelton State, Moore prayerfully applied and gratefully returned to his home institution. Again while there, he found encouragement to pursue a graduate level degree, and worked to earn a master’s degree in human resource management from Troy State University. Other doors at the College began to open, and Moore soon began serving as an administrator in the career technical programs and Training for Business and Industry.

“I think all of my experiences have combined to make me a better administrator,” says Dean Moore. “I am honored to be able to serve in a school that put food on my table when I was growing up, gave me a solid technical and academic education, and provided me with skills that allowed me to be gainfully employed.” In giving back, Dean Moore now provides opportunities similar to those he received. Each day, he is helping other Shelton State students reach their potential, and he is working to build and maintain successful partnerships with business and industry.

Dean Moore notes that going from student to administrator has not always been easy, but it has always been an interesting adventure. He says proudly, “I am looking forward to all of the possibilities that will continue to make Shelton State Community College a great choice for students and a great place to work for faculty and staff.”

Pictured to the left is Jason Moore.

Snead State Ready to Work Changes Lives

Trent Hundley of Guntersville had plans for his college career once he graduated from high school. He started attending Snead State Community College in 2006 and played basketball for the Parsons. He was on track to complete his education when he had to leave college due to personal reasons.

Trent never gave up on his plans, and an ad in his local newspaper provided him with the opportunity to get back on track. Snead State’s Ready to Work program evaluates a person’s job skills and work habits and teaches them critical skills to make them more employable. Completers of the program earn two industry-recognized credentials – the Alabama Certified Worker and the National Career Readiness Certificates. As an added benefit, completers receive one free class for up to four credit hours at Snead State.

Trent Hundley took advantage of his free course to re-enroll in College. He rejoined the basketball team and graduated with his Associate Degree in General Studies. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Managements Studies from Alabama A&M University. He is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Applied Health/Sports Sciences and was selected in August to teach an undergraduate course and assist with a second undergraduate course at Alabama A&M.

“From (my) experience, I have learned to finish what you start, which is a concept taught by Snead State Community College,” said Trent. “Without the Ready to Work program in my life, I don’t know if I would have had the confidence, drive or skills necessary to be where I am today or have the passion for where I am going tomorrow.”

Trent is one of the success stories to come from the Ready to Work program. Of the students enrolled in the free program in 2017, 85 percent found employment or enrolled in college to continue their education. In 2013, that percentage was 74.

The program has also tracked those students who have enrolled in college to continue their education since the program began. Scholarships were awarded to 91 graduates of the program, and 32 students have since earned their Associate degrees. Another 14 earned short-term certificates, with some still working to earn the credential.

“Our instructors and staff do a really good job in assisting our Ready to Work students with their transition to college. It is about building relationships, and they know they have a place to come if they have questions,” said Teresa Walker, Director of Workforce Development.

Snead State has partnered with local industry to bring the valuable program to their employees. Newman Technology in Arab had 27 employees who have completed the program and were hired permanently with a pay increase. Kappler Inc. in Guntersville began their second class in April and with the two classes completed, will graduate 12. A newer industry partner is Mitchell Grocery in Albertville, which had an employee to score a seven on all three of his assessments to receive a Platinum level National Career Readiness Certificate.

“We are seeing such good things from the Ready to Work industry partnerships,” said Ms. Walker.

Pictured to the right is Trent Hundley.

Shackett Named President of Southern Union

Todd Shackett was named President of Southern Union State Community College (SUSCC) in July. With more than 30 years of leadership and management experience, Shackett comes to Southern Union from Baxter International, where he most recently served as the Director of Operational Excellence. Prior to Shackett’s work at Baxter International, he spent several years with Becton Dickinson and Company in Durham, NC. Shackett has a Bachelor's of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University and both a Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's of Science in Operations Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Shackett also has a Certificate in Executive Management from Stanford University.

Shackett views his move to the education venue as personally fulfilling. Valuing personal development and hands-on training, he views SUSCC as a catalyst to connect students with careers and looks forward to opportunities to shape the landscape of East Central Alabama.

With three campus locations in East Central Alabama, SUSCC is the second oldest two-year college in Alabama and has a three-faceted educational emphasis on academic programs for transferability, technical programs for specialized career competencies and health sciences programs for specialized training in the health field. SUSCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associates degrees.

Pictured to the left is Todd Shackett.

Wallace and Michelin Partner for Student Workshop

Wallace Community College (WCCD) and Michelin Tire Manufacturing in Dothan recently joined forces to provide the inaugural Fundamentals of Modern Maintenance Workshop for upcoming 10-12 graders. The sessions, designed by Wallace faculty and Michelin trainers, introduced area students to careers in industrial systems technology and industrial maintenance. The partners gave two three-day workshops, accommodating five students in each group.

The first day of each workshop, students received industrial hydraulics and pneumatics training and lab activities from WCCD’s Steven Tice, Applied Engineering Technology program instructor. Topics included theory of fluid power systems and configuration and operation of air and hydraulic test systems. “By participating in the workshop, students received hands-on experience working with these types of systems, which are commonplace in all types of industry,” remarked Tice.

The second day of the workshop, students explored the world of work at Michelin’s Dothan factory and received electrical theory training from Tony Greene, After Cure Maintenance Supervisor at Michelin. The last day included a plant tour for students and their parents.

Onyx Lundy, a rising 12th grader at Northview High School/Dothan Technology Center, discovered many unknown facts about Michelin’s process. “Learning about making tires was interesting,” he said. “I especially enjoyed learning about the circuits.”

By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school, according to research by Georgetown University. Many of those jobs will require skilled labor. These positions are highly paid and made possible by an increase in manufacturing and by retiring baby boomers.

The relevance of career technical training, in particular the Applied Engineering Technology, is encouraged by Michelin. The company supports the education of students interested in industrial systems careers by offering a Michelin Technical Scholars Program.

Enrollment in the Wallace Community College Applied Engineering Technology program is a prerequisite for students interested in applying for the Michelin Technical Scholars Program. After passing a general aptitude test and interview process, successful applicants receive full payment of tuition, books and tools by Michelin. They also become part-time employees at Michelin while completing their Associates of Applied Science degree in Applied Engineering Technology at Wallace. Upon completion of their degrees, Technical Scholars may apply for full-time employment as a Michelin Maintenance Reliability Technician. The skills acquired in the Wallace Applied Engineering Technology program are applicable to many industrial and utility facilities nation-wide.

For additional information on Applied Engineering Technology, go to www.wallace.edu/appliedengineering or call (334) 983-3521, ext. 2603.

WCC Applied Engineering Instructor Steve Tice works teaches students the basics of industrial hydraulics and pneumatics. The session was held during the recent Fundamentals of Maintenance Workshop, a collaborative effort partnered by Wallace Community College (WCCD) and Michelin in Dothan.

Wallace State Nursing Grad Now Naval Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) and Member of U.S. President’s Medical Team

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Christopher Lynn, RN, BSN, MBA, CCRN, CEN, has a lot of initials behind his name that help to tell his remarkable story and how he came to be serving on the medical team to the President of the United States. In many ways, this story begins with the first set of initials, the RN, which he received at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville.

Indeed, Lynn’s mother, gave birth to him while attending the nursing program at Wallace State. She is currently an Executive Director at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif.

A native of Cullman, LCDR Lynn joined the Marine Corps after completing high school in 1998. He served as a combatant diver and sniper with an elite Marine Reconnaissance team in the 1st Marine Division. Lynn was deployed as a member of an urban sniper team with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2000. He led security patrols in the country of East Timor following civil uprising, and provided sniper overwatch for the USS Cole during Operation Determined Response immediately following the terrorist attack on the ship.

During his time in action, he had the opportunity to work with Corpsman in the field. He was fascinated by their level of medical knowledge in treating battlefield injuries. It was then his interest in the medical field was ignited. After witnessing the aftermath of the USS Cole bombing, he knew he wanted to save the lives of others contradicting his current position as a Recon Marine where you were more likely to take a life than save one. This led him to pursue a degree in nursing. “It just felt right,” he said.

Since childhood he had always been around hospitals. Not only at CRMC, where his mother worked, but at Children’s Hospital as a patient. “When I was a child, my face was badly burned in a house fire, and I had numerous procedures to repair the damage so I was in and out of Children’s a lot,” LCDR Lynn said.

In 2002, then Sergeant Lynn left the Marine Corps and returned to his hometown where he enrolled in the Associate Degree Nursing program at Wallace State, which he completed in 2005. During his class’s pinning ceremony, he was awarded the Florence Nightingale Award, the highest award given to nursing graduates, which recognizes a commitment to excellence in scholarship and dedication to compassion and exemplary patient care. After graduation, he worked full time in the Emergency Department at Cullman Regional Medical Center, where his mother had worked for many years, while completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Alabama Huntsville. During this time our nation was heavily engaged in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Coverage of Marines being injured was all over the news, and I could not sit idle as my brothers were being wounded. I decided to join the Navy and requested to go back to 1st Marines where I started,” he stated. Lynn was commissioned as a Navy Nurse Corps Officer in 2006 with his first assignment to Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton where he served as a critical care nurse.

While serving at Camp Pendleton, LCDR Lynn deployed to Iraq in 2008 with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) as an Enroute Care Nurse with a Surgical Shock Trauma Platoon (SSTP). There he recorded multiple combat flights and mass casualty events. One of two nurses selected, LCDR Lynn successfully established a mobile SSTP at Combat Outpost Rawah giving I MEF the forward medical assets needed to successfully conduct Operation Defeat Al-Qaeda in the North. “We were not able to save them all, but we were able to get a lot of Marines and Soldiers back home to their families. That’s why we do this. That’s what Navy Medicine stands for,” he said.

His next assignment was to Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia where he earned awards as both the top Officer and Medical Officer Recruiter in the district. During this time, LCDR Lynn worked part-time in the Emergency Department at Montgomery County Hospital and earned his Master of Business Administration Degree from American Military University. He also served as the Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Officer for the district, coordinating with local and federal authorities to maintain elevated security posturing of recruiting facilities across five states.

LCDR Lynn then returned to critical care after being assigned to the Intensive Care Unit at Naval Hospital Pensacola in June 2012. He served for eight months as the Clinic Manager of the Urology Department while continuing to work shifts in both the Emergency Department and ICU. LCDR Lynn served as the Department Head of the Emergency Department, and he is credited with building Navy Medicine’s first Urgent Care Center and Clinical Decision Unit. Additionally, he led the Chemical Biological Nuclear Response teams and recorded the Navy’s fastest mission capable response time ever recorded.

LCDR Lynn reported to 2D Medical Battalion, 2D Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune, NC, in January 2015 and served as Alpha Surgical Company Commander for one year before being asked to develop a training program to train and deploy Surgical Shock Trauma Teams with II Marine Expeditionary Forces. He built a Combat Trauma Management Unit from the ground up and subsequently trained all combat surgical units deploying forward with II MEF. As Officer in Charge, he also led the first Shock Trauma Platoon to operate in a large scale Marine Corps Integrated training exercise.

He deployed as the Enroute Care Nurse on the ground in West Africa for Operation African Lion, a multinational training exercise involving over 3,000 Marines and sailors.

In March 2017, LCDR Lynn was selected to join the White House Medical Unit. He serves as part of a medical team whose primary mission is to provide medical care to the President of the United States. A medical team is always with the President – whether it’s a meeting of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, or a speech in the Midwest.

“My main job is emergency response for the President. It is the greatest honor of my life to be chosen to serve in this way,” LCDR Lynn said. He maintains certifications in both critical care (CCRN) and emergency nursing (CEN).

Those who know LCDR Lynn back home in Cullman, his parents, of course, but also Wallace State instructors, classmates and even currently enrolled students he hasn’t met yet, are brimming with pride to learn of his accomplishments.

“We are extraordinarily proud of Chris,” said Deborah “Pepper” Hoover, head of Wallace State’s Nursing Program, which has been designated by the National League of Nursing as a Center of Excellence. “He represents the highest degree of excellence and service in our profession. Not only is he a tribute to our program, but he is an inspiration to our students. He demonstrates the wide variety of experiences open to nurses, and the opportunities a degree from Wallace State can provide.”

LCDR Lynn added, “I wanted to share my Wallace State story because that is where I got my start. Wallace State gave me the tools to succeed. I hope my story will encourage future generations of Wallace State nurses to embrace this life of service and to aspire to do more than they previously dreamed possible.”

Christopher’s parents are Lynne Lynn residing in Vallejo, Calif. and Albert Lynn residing in Foley, Ala. He and his wife Tracy have three children, and currently live in Arlington, Va. He is currently enrolled in the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program at Georgetown University.

LCDR Chris Lynn walks along the West Colonnade, which connects the West Wing to the Residence and is often seen as the backdrop to Rose Garden events at the White House.

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