Pellissippi State opens $27 million asset

Sandra ClarkOur Town Youth

Pellissippi State could not have picked a better student government leader than Caitlandt Southall. And the college could not have picked a better honoree than Bill Haslam.

Southall emphatically cut the ribbon to open the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Pellissippi’s Hardin Valley Campus on Aug. 17. She thanked the former governor for his contributions to her life.

As the first person in three generations of her family to graduate from college, she gained access to PSCC through the Tennessee Promise program, started by Haslam and others. She dropped out for a while, but reentered through Haslam’s TN Reconnect program.

Caitlandt Southall and her fellow students are what Pellissippi State is about.

The Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus will welcome its first students when the college’s fall semester starts Monday, Aug. 23.

And Haslam gets it.

“I was thinking, driving out here, if you were going to pick a perfect location for a community college, you might pick this one,” he said. “You’re strategically located between Oak Ridge and everything that is happening there, Blount County and Knox County. And if you’re going to find a really critical discipline that you want to make certain you have the room to grow and expand, it would be math and science.”

Haslam said every teacher of math and science that he ever had would smile to see his name on that building. And he thanked the donors who contributed to the construction of the $27 million project.

“Among the key tactics (to leverage the area’s assets of ORNL, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee) is the success of Pellissippi State,” Haslam said.

“You all feel like I do: that the key to success is giving more folks a chance for education. We’re struggling with a lot of things in this country – a whole lot of things that are dividing us – and to me, the best answer for all of those problems comes back to more opportunity out of great public education. So, thank you to all of you who serve, work out here and have been a part of making this happen. I truly am honored by it and always will be.”

The new 82,000-square-foot building has been under construction since May 2019. It includes 18 classrooms, six computer labs, nine science labs and a teacher education center. Denark Construction teamed with BarberMcMurry Architects for the project. Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. said the new space will free space currently used for math and science to expand other college programs.

Lesli Bales-Sherrod of Pellissippi State Community College contributed to this report.

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