NASHVILLE – Roane State has been named Community College of the Year as part of the College System of Tennessee’s second annual Statewide Outstanding Achievement Recognition (SOAR) Awards. The announcement was made on Tuesday, April 7, during the Tennessee Board of Regents’ spring quarterly meeting which was held via conference call. The Board cited Roane State’s many outstanding accomplishments during the past year as reason for the honor.
“Having such a focus on student access and success does not happen by accident,” said Roane State President Dr. Chris Whaley. “I would like to thank Chancellor Tydings as well as members and staff of the Tennessee Board of Regents, under the leadership of Gov. Bill Lee and Vice-Chair Emily Reynolds, for their passionate vision to see more and more Tennesseans benefit from higher education. They insist that TBR institutions are constantly moving forward to help students reach their educational and professional goals.”
“Our system’s mission – and the mission of each of our colleges – is the success of all our students and the development of Tennessee’s workforce,” said TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings. “Our graduates power Tennessee’s economy. It’s appropriate that we recognize the outstanding students – and the outstanding faculty and staff members on our campuses who work with students every day to help them succeed.”
Roane State has attained distinction for using a success coach model that provides every entering student with a single source at their local campus to assist with academic, financial aid, and career advisement for the first year. This singular focus on student success extends to the classroom with the initiation of the Learning in Action project. As part of this effort, faculty are integrating active and collaborative learning to help students engage more deeply with their coursework and generate a sense of belonging with each other.
“We have transformed our practices in many ways – first with our processes to on-board students and now in the classroom through our Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) quality enhancement plan,” added Whaley. “Change isn’t easy – to lead or to follow – but I am so grateful to the faculty and staff at Roane State for their willingness to lead and to be a part of all that we have done and that we’re going to do.”
Roane State has also implemented a Middle College model that has enabled almost 160 high school students in six area school systems to attain an Associate’s degree concurrent with their high school graduation. Approximately 90 Middle College students are anticipated to graduate this academic year. A recent recipient of the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Grant, Roane State will also utilize nearly $1,000,000 in grant funding to provide new dual enrollment opportunities in mechatronics and cyber defense focused specifically in Campbell, Loudon, Morgan and Roane counties.
Additionally, the college has focused on a problem facing far too many students right now: food insecurity. To combat this issue and further support student success, Roane State established full-service food pantries on three campuses with shelf-stable snacks available at all campuses. The full-service pantries offer a variety of items for meals that can be prepared at home or on campus, as well as personal hygiene items, baby food, diapers and school supplies.
“This recognition is very humbling for us, because we have such great colleagues across the System and all of the TBR institutions are exceptional,” remarked Whaley. “Each one is focused on providing innovative ways to increase student success, and we are thankful for each one of them. Students are the reason we have changed and that we continue to change. We still have work to do, but we are committed to dedicating everything we do at Roane State toward one goal: student success.”
The SOAR Awards, launched last year by the Tennessee Board of Regents, recognizes two Colleges of the Year – a community college and a college of applied technology – based on the award criteria and their major accomplishments for students and the communities they serve. The Board also recognizes the outstanding students, faculty and staff members at its colleges with individual awards. For a full list of 2020 award winners, visit tbr.edu/soar.
Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit www.roanestate.edu.