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- Hurricane Gustav evacuees assisted by the University
- University achieves record enrollment, recognition by U.S News & World Report
- Education opportunities created with Volkswagen connection
- UTC Children’s Center teacher began as a student in the program
- Alumnus James Powderly returns to U.S. following arrest in China
Hurricane Gustav evacuees assisted by the University
Hurricane Gustav sent some residents from the Gulf Coast to Chattanooga, where UTC students, faculty and staff engaged in assessing and addressing their needs. As the Emergency Operation Center prepared for the evacuees, Assistant Professor Lisa Muirhead, MSN, ARNP-CS, ANP took students to the Amnicola Highway site for an overview from Bill Tittle, Hamilton County Emergency Management Chief. Later, the class visited the Chattanooga American Red Cross where John Hitchins addressed the group.
“People assume this is a sophisticated, well-staffed organization but they need to realize it is totally dependent upon volunteers,” said Muirhead. “I am very proud of the efforts of the Chattanooga American Red Cross and all that it has been able to do to provide relief for these evacuees.”
Muirhead and Linda Hill, CRNA, DNSc, APN Coordinator, Nurse Anesthesia Concentration in the UTC School of Nursing both volunteered to assist with triage. As evacuees exited the bus, Muirhead helped to register those with mental health needs, chronic health conditions and assessed those with urgent health needs. Hill assisted with the second triage.
Later in the week, Muirhead took students to the Red Cross shelter at the East Brainerd Recreation Center.
“We took a tour of the facility and shelter area, talked to evacuees about their experience and the way the experience has affected the children,” said Megan Fuller, a nursing student. “It was community health nursing in action—we got a bird’s eye view.”
Nursing student Taylor Walker agreed. “It was an endearing experience and great to see how the people of Chattanooga came together to meet the needs of the evacuees. From childcare, to donations, to pet care—it is a very empowering situation and great to know that if an emergency happened in Hamilton County, the government and American Red Cross know how to address the problem.”
UTC students served breakfast to evacuees at the Brainerd Recreation Center. Student Government Association representatives and other student groups participated.
(L-R): Whitney Walker, Ruth Lightsey, Hector Vasquez (American Red Cross), John Hitchens (American Red Cross), Carey Marlow, Megan Harris.
A record number of students have chosen to attend one of the nation’s top universities.
For the third consecutive year, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has achieved record fall enrollment. The total number of students attending UTC this fall is 9,807, which represents a 2.61 percent over last year with growth in both undergraduate and graduate students.
The campus also again saw a significant growth in freshman enrollment with 2,083 first-time students. This fall’s freshman class has an average high school grade point average of 3.22 and average ACT score of 22.42, both figures up from last previous years.
“I am pleased that students and their families continue to see the great opportunities available here at UTC,” said UTC Chancellor Roger Brown. “I know that continued growth brings challenges, and I am thankful for the tremendous patience of students and the efforts of faculty and staff for the smooth start to this year.”
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has again been named among the Best Universities—Master’s in the South in U.S. News & World Report’s 2009 edition of America’s Best Colleges.
UTC’s inclusion in this category is distinguished by its offerings of undergraduate, master’s and three doctoral degree programs. In the category of Top Public Universities—Master’s in the South, UTC is ranked 13th.
“This is one more indication of something our students and parents have known all along, that this University offers a top quality education,” said UTC Chancellor Roger Brown. “That is why UTC is one of the fastest growing public higher education institutions in Tennessee.”
The annual guide ranks colleges in a variety of categories and considers criteria such as graduation rates, faculty to student ratios, alumni giving, and academic reputation.
As site preparations move forward for the Volkswagen North American assembly plant in Chattanooga, the University is forging a relationship with the automaker to create learning opportunities for students.
Volkswagen reached out to the UTC departments of communication and marketing, creating an event that got students behind the wheels of Volkswagen vehicles and then gave them a chance to write about the experience. This academic adventure will allow the best written submission to be published by a professional news organization.
“A well-educated workforce is a benefit to the entire community, not just Volkswagen, and so events like this are a win-win-win,” said Jill Bratina, Director, Corporate Communications for Volkswagen Group of America. “We are invested in the communities we call home and will be a reliable partner with the state of Tennessee and the city of Chattanooga. Long term commitment is the hallmark of our success, and we look forward to a long and productive relationship.”
UTC was involved in the recruitment effort to bring the automaker to Chattanooga.
“UTC is proud to have been involved in the pitch to the Volkswagen officials on behalf of our city,” said Chancellor Roger Brown. “We participated in the presentation to the VW team in March and April, when they were still considering three U.S. sites,” Brown said.
Volkswagen representatives heard about the SimCenter:National Center for Computational Engineering research on fuel efficiency and electric vehicle technology, a new Construction Management degree program launched in cooperation with Chattanooga State and the 70 majors offered at UTC.
As Volkswagen defines its plan, the newly appointed dean of the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science is ready to listen. Dr. Will Sutton has worked extensively with Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc. in Tuscaloosa County Alabama and Honda Manufacturing in Lincoln, Alabama. As head of mechanical engineering at the University of Alabama, he helped facilitate a Mercedes connection that produced a large number of cooperative-education opportunities for students.
“The UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science will be looking to Volkswagen as they build their plan. We will work to align our programs to help meet their needs,” Sutton said.
UT Chattanooga Center for Energy, Transportation, and the Environment (CETE) is engaged in research on alternative fuels with an eye toward environmental issues. Dr. Ronald Bailey’s work with CETE was influential in bringing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Hydrogen Road Tour 2008 to Chattanooga, a time for consumers to take a test drive the cars of the future. Volkswagen’s hydrogen model, the HyMotion Tiguan, was featured at the event along with hydrogen-fueled vehicles from other manufacturers.
In this green environment lies a greener economy according to the UTC Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Richard Casavant. Using the examples of BMW Manufacturing in Greenville, South Carolina, and Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc. in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, Casavant anticipates the local economy will experience dramatic changes in the next decade. In addition to his duties at UT Chattanooga, Casavant serves on the Hamilton County Commission.
“Volkswagen will bring 2,000 good-paying jobs with benefits, and it will make a positive impact. In both Greenville and Alabama, there is proof the number of jobs actually increased over time,” Casavant said.
UT Chattanooga is ready to work with Volkswagen to focus new degree programs on their most pressing needs, so that graduates will be ready to take high-paying, technologically advanced jobs in business, engineering, healthcare, education, and all of the fields that Volkswagen and other modern companies will be seeking when they move to Chattanooga, Chancellor Brown said.“We are happy to be bringing intellectual capital to the table for Volkswagen as we work toward expanding our relationship,” Brown said.
It was a full circle moment for Allison White when she became a lead teacher at the Battle Academy site of UTC Children’s Center. White, now 25 years old, was enrolled at the Children’s Center as a toddler by her parents Cindy and Dr. Steve White, who both work in the UTC College of Business.
“Allison’s story speaks well of the Children's Center foundation for life-long learning. She is one of many UTC alumni who have gone through the Children’s Center program,” said Linda Rivers, Director of the UTC Children’s Center.
Though the location of this outstanding childcare program has changed, the quality has remained the same. The Children’s Center is licensed by the Tennessee Department of Human Services, and both the Brown Academy and Battle Academy sites are “Three Star” rated, the highest possible in Tennessee’s Quality Rating System. One hundred twenty-eight children receive early childhood education. The program accepts children from 6 weeks of age through prekindergarten and operates for 12 months, Monday through Friday.
White began the program at 15 months and stayed until it was time for kindergarten. She came back later as a volunteer, a substitute teacher, a part-time employee, and now teaches in the Pre-K Inclusion classroom.
“The Children's Center is very special to me because it was the first place, other than home, that I ever spent large amounts of time. I got to know many people there, (both adults and children) and I still keep in touch with some of them. In fact, I work with some of them now! As I grew up, I would go to visit the center anytime I was on campus visiting my parents. That was a special treat for me to go back and say ‘hi’,” White said.
White’s mother Cindy said when her daughter attended the Children’s Center in 1984, it was housed in temporary buildings located in the area that is now part of the University Center across from McClellan Gym.
“Our expectations, mine, anyway, were that she would be safe and well cared-for and potty-trained. They were all met, and then some!” said Cindy White. “As a new mom, I had a hard time leaving her sometimes, and staff members sometimes let her walk to the door to wave goodbye, and always reassured me that she really did stop crying as soon as I was gone! We made friends… she made friends… we found good babysitters. She was happy there. Since Steve nor I have family in Chattanooga, in many ways the Children’s’ Center became our extended family. Questions I might have asked my own mom had she lived here went instead to teachers (Miss Ita, Miss Jean, Miss Roz) or to the director (Mrs. Anne Gamble). They helped me learn to be a better mother.”
The Children’s Center has been accredited since 1987 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). It was the fourth program in Tennessee and the first in the University of Tennessee system to gain national accreditation.“The quality of the instruction and assessments is very good. As for the quality of the program over the years, it has continually gotten better. For example, there were no computers in Pre-K when Allison was there the first time. So, as the world changes, they keep up. They’re accredited, and not many daycare/preschools can claim that. All in all, it is a high-quality program,” Mrs.White said.
Online publications broke the story about UTC alumnus James Powderly’s arrest in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics. Powderly was taken into custody and then to a “detention center” outside the city for planning to use his “Laser Tag” technology to electronically project the words “Free Tibet” on a building in Tiananmen Square.
Powderly lives and works in New York, where he co- founded the New York-based Graffiti Research Lab, which uses digital technology and lasers. Powderly graduated from Ooltewah High School, earned an undergraduate degree from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a master’s degree from New York University.
According to story that ran August 31st in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Powderly and 11 men spent five days in a cell, following a 24-hour interrogation. The newspaper report by Andy Johns continues:
“They were taken to a detention center outside Beijing, where Mr. Powderly said he and the crew were stripped, photographed and issued unwashed red uniforms that reeked of pesticide. He then was escorted to cell A210, about the size of a small bathroom and stuffed with 11 other people, he said.
A210 held eight beds with a blanket for each occupant, a surveillance camera, a shower, a sink, a TV and a hole in the ground for a toilet, according to Mr. Powderly.
Days began at 6:30 a.m. with Westerners given a hard-boiled egg and tea for breakfast while Asians were given slop in a bucket and watery rice, he said. Lunch and dinner was broth with a ‘Spam-like ball of meat’ on rice.
In the evenings, detainees were forced to watch two hours of the Olympics on TV, but they could only watch pre-recorded events where Chinese athletes won, save for one live volleyball match that ended abruptly when the Brazilian team began to gain the upper hand over the Chinese, he said.”