Vol State Celebrates 40 Years of Excellence

Submitted on November 09, 2011 at 1:43 PM

There are many ways to describe what 40 years means in the life of a community college. Perhaps the best way comes in the form of a number: 134,280. That's the estimate of how many people have attended Volunteer State Community College in the last 40 years. That means former Vol State students, if assembled together, would be the sixth largest city in the state.

Vol State is celebrating the 40th anniversary with a free community event on Friday, November 18. There will be special tours of the college, including program highlights to show-off what the college is doing currently. The International Education program will have displays about international travel-study and the international student population at the college. There will be story sharing, student music, a performance by the Pioneer cheerleaders and a free lunch. College leaders hope that alumni, retirees and the community will join current students, faculty and staff for the celebration.

Ground breaking for Volunteer State Community College was held on a cold and blustery day in November of 1970. It was the culmination of three years of preparation by Dr. Hal R. Ramer, who helped to form the Tennessee community college system as assistant state education commissioner, and then went on to create a community college in Gallatin. He became the founding president of the college and served for 33 years.

Vol State opened for classes in October of 1971. At first, classes were held in an old hotel in Gallatin and wherever else they could find space, throughout Sumner County. John Newman and Joni Steinhauer, both of Hendersonville, were the first official students. 581 students were enrolled that first quarter. The Gallatin campus opened in the winter of 1972. The first commencement ceremony was held on June 9, 1973 with 57 students graduating. Enrollment now is more than 8,000 students a semester.

"I remember arriving to and leaving from work listening to the cows mooing in the pasture across the street," said Betty Gibson, administrative assistant to the president. "Now, all that can be heard is the hustle and bustle of the ongoing traffic."

"I was just a young guy," said Dr. Richard Harville, a former dean and faculty member who joined Vol State in 1972. "It was pretty exciting. You knew everyone on campus. We don't have that small feeling anymore. You got to know most of the students in your division. I still keep in touch with some of them."

The free community celebration will be held in the Tiled and Carpeted Dining rooms in the Wood Campus Center on Friday, November 18 with lunch and tours of campus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event itself will start at 11:30 a.m. On Saturday, November 19 the celebration culminates with the annual Homecoming basketball games, which will be held at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. with special 40th anniversary events throughout the day.

The college has a 40th anniversary web page with a picture gallery of Vol State through the decades. There are a number of blogs in which alumni, retirees and others can post their memories of Vol State through the decades, including a special blog for couples who met at Vol State. Those blogs and picture gallery can be visited at www.volstate.edu/forty

For more information about the event visit the web page or call 615-230-3571.

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