|Faulkner prepares to begin role as VSCC President|
|Thursday, May 3, 2012|
“She has been invaluable in taking care of all things to get us ready for this move,” Dr. Faulkner said. “I used to say that Chattanooga was the farthest west I’d ever lived but now this is a far west as I’ve ever lived.” Faulkner is a native of the Knoxville area. Wanda grew up in Virginia but her family moved her senior year in high school where she and Jerry became high school sweethearts. The couple has been married for 42 years.
Her role as ‘VP for Domestic Affairs’ is new to her since she has worked in higher education longer than her husband. She will be retiring from her long time job as the Graduation Analyst in the records office at Chattanooga State Community College and will now focus on assisting on VSCC Foundation projects. “I believe my background in higher education will allow me to better understand what he is dealing with on his new job and will allow me to support him better,” she said.
“She is very astute in the Tennessee Board of Regents policy so when I have a policy question I usually end up calling her,” Dr. Faulkner said. “If she doesn’t know the answer off the top of her head, she can point me to the policy number where I can find it.”
The couple spent a couple days last week getting more familiar with folks at the Gallatin and Livingston campuses. Last Thursday was spent at the Tennessee Technology Center in Livingston, including a reception with faculty and students at the Livingston campus, a meeting with the President’s Advisory Council that afternoon followed by another reception for community members to attend that evening.
Friday’s schedule included the Educate a Woman luncheon in Hendersonville to raise scholarship funds for women. “That was a fantastic event. To have that size room packed with women dedicated to help other women achieve their goals, is just tremendous,” he said. “Our female enrollment hovers around 62-64 percent so it’s critically important that we support these women who are trying to ensure a better life for themselves and their families.”
“Everyone has been so gracious, kind and helpful,” Wanda said. “I haven’t met anyone that has been rude. Everyone just says ‘come on’ and have been so welcoming.”
Dr. Faulkner added his comments about the change in their lives. “We are excited about the move, coming to Volunteer Sate. It’s a new adventure for us, a new chapter of our life.”
While he prepares for his May 15 start date, Dr. Faulkner is already focused on a few areas that he believes will require his immediate involvement. “Perhaps first on the list is to get familiar with the campus, the personnel and the community. We are meeting a lot of wonderful people every time we are here, both on the campus and in the community. But I’ve got to learn more about the community and the people here.”
A top priority will be helping the school meet the requirements of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010. “All public higher education in Tennessee is looking at how we can implement the requirements of this act, which now places our funding emphasis on not just how many students attend, but on how fast students progress and how many of them complete a degree or certificate. There’s a fairly complex funding formula that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission put together following the mandates of the act. It rewards colleges for getting students through learning support courses (new language for remedial courses), how many students reach 12, 24, or 36 hours of credit, how many complete their degree or certificate, how many transfer on to a four-year university, and such. So that will be on top of my list as well.”
Another top priority will be the construction of a new humanities building on campus. “The governor’s budget, if it is approved, contains funds to begin the planning phase of a new humanities building. I understand that has been on the drawing table for many years, maybe as many as 12 or 13 years. The funding allocation does include a requirement that the local institution raise 10 percent of the total cost so that means, very quickly, we are going to have to raise $3 million dollars. It’s something that, as far as I can determine, is really needed.”
Serving as the chief academic officer for Cleveland State since 2008, Faulkner has provided leadership for the school’s academic-related programs and initiated several processes and programs to improve student learning and success. In addition to obtaining a $2 million Title III grant for the college, he piloted an allied health consortium with two other colleges in the state and set up a dual admission agreement to allow students to seamlessly transfer to a university.
“In the dual admission, students, in their first 30 hours at a community college, can apply to the university they plan to transfer to and they are accepted into the university,” he explained. “The student then has an advisor at the community college and an advisor at the university. They can get student priced tickets, use the university library, and other benefits because they are already admitted.”
Prior to 2008, Faulkner worked his way up through the academic ranks at Chattanooga State Community College, where he began teaching biology in 1994. In 2002 he was selected Department Head for Life Sciences and then Teacher Education Coordinator. He also taught and served two years as associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Tennessee Temple University before joining Chattanooga State.
Faulkner earned his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in botany/ecology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and his bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Temple. He has also completed the Future Leaders Institute/Advanced from the American Association of Community Colleges.
By Randy Cline