The Cleveland State Community College Mace

On this special occasion we introduce Cleveland State’s first ceremonial mace.  Historically, a mace was designed as a weapon.  By the 13th century a decorated mace was used for ceremonial purposes in England and France.  Over the centuries the use of a ceremonial mace became a tradition in colleges and universities to lead processionals and signify the significance of the occasion.

Cleveland State’s mace is a gift from the 6th President, Dr. William A. Seymour and Catherine Seymour.  In-kind donations were made by Epperson Jewelers who provided the engraving, Jordan Fabricating who developed the headpiece, and Ed Lewis, retired high school physics teacher who carved the top section of the staff.

The design and production work for the mace was performed by Cleveland High School students participating in Mr. David Gluckner’s Engineering class during the Spring 2016 semester.  Particular thanks go to Mr. Gluckner for his commitment and diligence to see this project through to completion.

Today, the mace is carried by Caleb Mott who was a member of the class that designed it, and we are proud to say that Caleb is now a freshman at Cleveland State.  It is intended that the mace will be used for all future formal ceremonies of the college.

A series of silver rings make up the lower section of the staff.  The first ring indicates the founding of the college in 1967.  The next six rings identify the six presidents of the college with their respective years of service.  Several blank rings are available for future presidents.

The top of the staff is carved to flare out toward the top piece.  This is to symbolize the ever-growing impact that Cleveland State has on our community through student education and economic development.  The silver top piece has several sides coming to the point representing the diversity of students we serve who come together to improve their lives through education.  Inside the top piece is a hand-blown glass flame.  Its blue color celebrates the history of Cleveland State and sheds light on a mission that will burn forever.

Posted by admin in The Next 50 Years, The Present

Planning the Next 50 Years at Cleveland State

In 2015 we developed the Cleveland State 2020 Community First Plan.  This is the new strategic plan that will lead the college into the next 50 years.  True to its name this plan is unique in that 300 community individuals from across our service area came together to help us build this plan.  Developed by the community, for the community, we have a vision focused squarely on meeting the needs of learners and supporting our regional workforce.  Cleveland State is and shall always be a major component of unprecedented economic development in our area

To achieve this future we must aspire to be the best in all that we do.  This starts with our people.  While our primary focus is always on students we know we cannot deliver a good product unless we have the best faculty and staff and they are supported well in a great work environment.

Our goal is not to be the biggest community college but certainly the best.  To be the best we must start by creating an economy of scale that will power achievement of our intended goals.  Therefore, we intend to grow our enrollment from 3,500 students to over 4,000 students in the next five years.  This growth will come from two major areas: improvement in retention rates and expansion of key academic programs along with the introduction of new programs.  Development of these programs will be focused on areas that meet specific needs in our workforce – a win for the college and a win for the community.

Another major component of our plan is to ensure that we are meaningfully engaged in communities throughout our five-county service area.  While we have developed strong connections in Bradley County we recognize that we have room for improvement in other areas.

As part of this effort we intend to strengthen the presence of our off-campus sites.  Our plan calls for making the Athens Center a “northern-hub” for Cleveland State.  This means we will anchor key programs at that location.  As an example, we have already begun implementation of a robust Agriculture program there including the introduction of Agribusiness courses.  Additionally, we will see an increase in the number of full-time faculty assigned to the Athens Center.  Overall, we want to provide students living in the norther sections of our service area ample opportunities to complete degree programs in Athens without needing to come to the Cleveland campus.  These changes will bring enrollment growth to the Athens Center.  As we are currently renting a facility that is essentially full, we are looking for opportunities in Athens to develop an actual campus for Cleveland State.

A significant achievement in the first year of our plan is the acquisition of our new Monroe County Center located in the Tellico West Industrial Park in Vonore, Tennessee.  This beautiful facility will be dedicated to providing industrial training through credit and non-credit courses in partnership with the many manufacturing companies and local schools in that area.

While our strategic plan includes nine primary goals with associated objectives none perhaps is more important than the care of our Cleveland Campus.  With most building approaching 50 years old we have a great need for renovation of facilities and replacement of most infrastructure systems on the campus.  It is also significant that we have not had a new classroom building constructed on our campus in over 40 years.  This year we have completed our Master Plan that will guide the future development of our campus.  Planning is already underway with the state to start addressing these needs.  However, to adequately address our physical needs we are implementing Cleveland State’s first major capital campaign.  To leverage state funds we must provide a portion of the overall costs through private funding.  So, we will be asking our community for help through this campaign.

Cleveland State 2020 Community First Plan

Posted by admin in The Next 50 Years

Tennessee Valley Early College (TVEC)

Tennessee Valley Early College (TVEC) at Cleveland State is a new partnership program between the college and local school systems designed to allow students to pursue college credit at the same time they are earning a high school diploma.   This goal is achieved by engaging students in a rigorous high school curriculum tied to the incentive of earning college credit during their freshman and sophomore years and of taking traditional college courses on CSCC’s campus during their junior and senior years.

Developing an early college program emerged as an important goal of the Community First 2020 Plan. The efficacy of early college programs at improving student learning is supported by national research which has shown that students engaged in this model of instruction are significantly more likely to earn college degrees than other students while at the same time accruing less educational debt and having the opportunity to begin their careers early (thus having the opportunity for higher lifetime earnings). This fit in well with our strategic plan goal “to offer relevant programs that satisfy needs of students and the workforce and deliver them in modes that maximize student engagement and completion.”

In the fall of 2015, Cleveland High School expressed interest in inaugurating our first TVEC program beginning the very next year. Our team worked furiously to research and outline a program that would apply what we were learning about guided pathways to the design of Tennessee Valley Early College. Faculty and staff from both institutions met for intensive work sessions that compared high school graduation requirements with college degree requirements. In addition, they considered the challenge of developmentally preparing students for the rigor and responsibility of college-level academic work as well as the financial structures that impact student participation, attempting to minimize cost while maximizing opportunity for student achievement.

In the end, TVEC is designed as a four-year program in which students move through the first two years on the high school campus enrolled in primarily high school coursework, some of which prepares students for dual credit assessments that award college credit. The third and fourth years of study are primarily college courses taken on the the college campus. These courses are used to satisfy high school graduation requirements and are applicable to a specific college degree program. Students are supported through their program by dual advising provided by a dedicated staff member at the high school and support from specifically identified staff at the college. TVEC students also have dual citizenship, as it were, with privileges at both their home high school and the Cleveland State campus.

Thirty-five rising freshman at Cleveland High School were selected through a rigorous process to participate in the program beginning Fall 2016. These students will have the opportunity to pursue a degree through one of three pathways:

  • College Transfer Pathway:  This sequence of courses allows a student to graduate with a General Transfer, A.S.  Students are able to tailor their studies towards their individual career goals by using the Tennessee Transfer Pathways, which focus on preparatory study in programs such as pre-health professions, education, criminal justice, art, social work, engineering, business administration, and many more.  Upon completion, students will be able to articulate their degree to any state college or university and many of Tennessee’s private institutions where they could enter college with junior academic status.
  • Mechatronics Pathway: A blend of electrical controls, mechanical systems, robotics, welding and occupational safety classes are included in the mechatronics pathway preparing students to graduate with their Associate of Applied Science Degree armed with a highly desirable skill set for today’s advanced manufacturing workplace.
  • Business: Students may elect to prepare for the business profession through a transfer pathway listed above on their pursuit to a four-year degree.  For students interested in a more direct and immediate career path, a pathway has been developed to lead to the Associate of Applied Science Degree.  Classes in this pathway include an Introduction to Business class along with specialized courses in Entrepreneurship, Management, Marketing, Accounting, Finance and Economics.

We are working with additional school systems to bring the opportunities of Tennessee Valley Early College at Cleveland State to students and families throughout our service area. We see this as a way to serve our community by providing high quality access to those young people eager to accelerate their futures and ready to embark on their college pathway to a rewarding career. Its another way we put Community First.

Posted by admin in The Next 50 Years


Cleveland State is in the process of a major transformation. All academic and support programs, processes and procedures are being reengineered as integrated structural pathways designed for individual student success in career or transfer. This work is guided by the Pathways Project of the American Association of Community Colleges. CSCC is the only institution in Tennessee chosen to participate with 29 other community colleges from across the country. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, six institutes held over two years will help the college chart this large-scale institutional reform.

We’ve set an ambitious goal: to revamp everything from student intake to professional development, from marketing to student advising, and have it all in place for the 2018 academic year.
CSCC sought to participate and was selected for the project because we had already implemented many best practices of the pathways model: a required freshmen success course, co-requisite remediation at scale, faculty-driven advisory program, and academic focus areas that organize orientation and registration. In addition, we can boast of a history of success in curricular redesign, particularly of developmental education.  The college’s “Do the Math” innovations in developmental and collegiate mathematics earned us national recognition in 2009 with a Bellwether Award, as well as a shout out from President Obama as an exemplar of student-centered instruction.

“…and that means looking for some of the best models out there. There are community colleges like Tennessee’s Cleveland State that are redesigning remedial math courses and boosting not only student achievement but also graduation rates. And we ought to make a significant investment to help other states pick up on some of these models.”
– President Barack Obama (University of Texas at Austin speech, 2010)

Our “high tech – high touch” individualized student approach was adapted for delivery in high schools in order to bring all students up to college-readiness in mathematics. This earned Cleveland State a second national kudo – the first ever Future’s Assembly Legacy Award in 2015. In addition, the college led the state of Tennessee in the adoption of a co-requisite model for delivering remedial writing instruction in tandem with college-level courses. The result has been a dramatic increase in student success and completion of key college-level courses in the first year of study.

Upon close review of student progress, however, the college discovered that despite our laudable innovations, our students were not persisting to graduation at the rates necessary to achieve the state’s Drive to 55 goals. As Dr. Seymour observed, “We’ve been tinkering at the edges of student experience and haven’t yet transformed the entire system that determines successful outcomes for all students.” In its first two AACC Pathways Institutes, teams of college faculty, staff and administrators dug deeply into data about student performance and the relationship to program choice, college processes and support services.

What we learned was surprising.

While the college offers over 109 different degrees and certificates, most students who graduate will complete one of only 12. Students also change majors frequently, as often as every semester and some as many as 6 times before settling on a program. The more often a student changes major, the less likely they are to complete that degree in a timely fashion, and the more likely to leave without a degree. At the same time, even with the limited number of credits permitted for each degree (most CSCC degrees require no more than 60 credits to complete) many students take a whole year’s worth of extra courses that do not apply to the degree program in which they graduate. That can be expensive for students, many of whom rely on financial aid, and can lead to students running out of aid before they’ve completed their course of study.

Experts like Thomas Bailey, Shanna Smith Jaggars and Davis Jenkins of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College Columbia University have studied Cleveland State and other community colleges to identify the sources of these results. They contend in their 2015 book “Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success,” that in most community colleges, students, many of them first-generation attendees, struggle to navigate a complex and often confusing array of programs, courses and support services. They find it difficult to clearly see how to achieve their end goals of discovering and preparing for a particular career. Many students, unable to see a path through all this, get frustrated and drop out. Others stumble along, accruing excess credits, racking up debt or running out of financial aid. According to what we have learned, the preponderance of choices available at community colleges, which are the result of our open access mission and well-intended policies, have undermined student success. The writers assert that guided pathways should replace the “cafeteria-style,” self-serve approach that characterizes community colleges like Cleveland State.

What this guided pathways approach offers is structure that directs a student from the start of an academic career to the awarding of an associate degree or transfer to a four-year college. As students enroll, they select a Career Community that serves as a meta-major, a broad field of study, in which they see themselves. Cleveland State has identified six of these communities which effectively group degrees and certificates with similar career characteristics: Business, Arts and Humanities, Health, Social Sciences, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and Education. Each community has a unique set of first experiences that expose student to the various degree pathways so they can identify and then focus on what interests them and ideally, for which they have demonstrated aptitude.

“There is a myth out there that students enjoy wandering,” said Rob Johnstone, president and founder of the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement. “They want direction.” Cleveland State is transforming itself in order to provide that direction for students through meaningful, personal interactions with academic advisors, success coaches, and tutors who team up with the faculty to surround students with support throughout their college experience. Additional changes are occurring throughout the college including the reorganization of personnel to better correspond to a student-centered pathways approach as well as the renovation of the Cleveland campus so that it better meets the needs of students who are navigating it for the first time. “We have applied the concept of “flipping the classroom” to improve student learning,” President Seymour declares. “Now we need to “flip the college” to improve student success. This work will result in the transformation of Cleveland State from a good, solid college to one that is great and exemplary in its service to students and community.”

Posted by admin in The Next 50 Years

Dr. David F. Adkisson

In January 1967 Dr. David F. Adkisson was named the first President and first employee of Cleveland State Community College.  Dr. Adkisson had several years of educational administrative experience.  A native of Ashland City, Tennessee, he had been an elementary and high school teacher, principal, school superintendent, supervisor for thirty-four East Tennessee counties, director of instruction for the Knox County School System and instructor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK).  His degrees were from Austin Peay Normal, Middle Tennessee State University, George Peabody College and UTK.

In 1970 Dr. Adkisson played an instrumental role in the creation of the Cleveland State Scholarship Foundation.  On September 24, 1976 the Tennessee State Board of Regents recognized his contributions to the college by naming Cleveland State’s Administration Building in honor of him.  It was the first time a community college facility had been named for one of its Presidents.  Later, the city of Cleveland honored him by naming the street in front of the college “Adkisson Drive.”  On his last day as President, June 30, 1978, his friends and employees also recognized his outstanding leadership by presenting him a new truck to celebrate his service to the college.  He continued to support education after his retirement by serving as a member of the Board of Education of the Cleveland City Schools and as President of the College Foundation.

Posted by admin in Founding Fathers, Profiles, Retiree

Dr. Quentin Lane

Dr. Quentin Lane served as the college’s second President from 1978 to 1985.  He graduated at an early age (19) from Middle Tennessee State University and taught in Chattanooga for several years.  He received his Master’s degree from George Peabody College and his Doctorate from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  The youngest of seven brothers, his mother died when he was four years old and his twenty-three year old brother became the head of the family.  All of the brothers worked together to run the family farm.  Four of his brothers obtained master’s degrees and three were school Principals in Hamilton County.  He was Assistant Principal of Brainerd High School and later the Principal of Elbert S. Long School.  He arrived at Cleveland State in 1971, and prior to becoming President he held the positions of Director of Continuing Education, Director of Research and Dean of Instruction.

Serving as President during the nation’s energy crisis, Dr. Lane initiated the four-day week, as well as several other energy-saving measures, to cope with the crisis.  During his tenure the college auditorium was completed, Nursing achieved acclaim as an outstanding program, total student headcount enrollment surpassed 4,000, grants were acquired to improve campus facilities for the disabled, off-campus sites expanded throughout the college’s service area, the college was named as the administrative entity for the Job Training Partnership Act and a Youth Enrichment Program was inaugurated.  Dr. Lane was also an active participant in the college Foundation and played a major role in raising funds for its student scholarships.  He played a leading role in the establishment of an Alumni Association, and his support for the college was recognized when the campus gymnasium was named for him.  Dr. Lane also found time for many other endeavors, such as serving as President of the Middle Tennessee State University National Alumni Association, as President of the Chattanooga area Phi Delta Kappa Honor Fraternity and as President of the Higher Education Division of the Tennessee Education Association.  He served the college for fourteen years and played an influential role in fulfilling the college’s objectives during its formative years.

Posted by admin in Founding Fathers, Profiles

Dr. George L. Mathis

The first employee hired by Cleveland State President David F. Adkisson was Dr. George L. Mathis, Principal of Brainerd High School.  In his role as Dean of Students, Dr. Mathis immediately began touring area high schools to recruit students.  Like Dr. Adkisson, Mathis had vast experience in education.  He had worked at high schools in Chattanooga and Knoxville prior to World War II.  After returning from his wartime service in the Navy, he served as a coach, a teacher and an athletic director at Chattanooga High School.  He later served at various times as Principal of Hardy Junior High School, Elbert Long School and Brainerd High School.  While recruiting for Cleveland State, his standard comment was, “If you want to go to college, see me, and I’ll see that you have the opportunity to get an education at Cleveland State.”  His efforts were instrumental in attracting large numbers of students to the campus in the formative years of the college.

Dr. Mathis played a leading role in the establishment of a permanent scholarship endowment fund by the College Foundation.  He was one of the original members of the Hiwassee Mental Health Association, served on the board of “HERMES” (an association to assist mentally disabled people), was a member of the Title XX Human Services Region 3 Advisory Board, a trustee of Moccasin Bend Psychiatric Hospital, a member of Kiwanis, a member of the American Legion, a member of the Elks Club and a member of City Farmers.  In addition, he was Past President of the Brainerd Kiwanis Club and Lt. Governor of the Division III Kentucky-Tennessee District of Kiwanis.

Dr. Mathis retired on June 30, 1976, and he was honored with a surprise retirement party and by the news that the Student Center would be named for him by the State Board of Regents.  He continued to support the college after retirement, and for a few years he continued working as the Director of Public Relations for the Johnston Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Posted by admin in Founding Fathers, Profiles, Retiree

John Bradley

Associate Professor John Bradley was one of the original faculty members hired by the college in 1967.  Although teaching Speech courses was his primary job description, at various times he also taught courses in English, Theater, Drama and Film.  Bradley was an avid “movie-goer” and his knowledge of films, actors and actresses was extensive.  His friends enjoyed attending his annual Academy Award party and watching the presentation of the “Oscars” on television.  Both the campus and the community looked forward to attending one of his many dramatic presentations.  He also found time to provide the faculty and staff with humor in his weekly articles for the campus newsletter.

Bradley excelled as a performer and was granted a year’s leave of absence to perform in “Off-Off” Broadway plays in New York City.  He also organized and led tourist excursions to that city during summers and/or holidays.  The number of community-wide plays in which he was either the director, co-director, or star performer was voluminous.  Examples of a few of these were:  “The Odd Couple,” “Carousel,” “Rainmaker,” “The Zoo Story,” “Give My Regards to Keith Street,” “My Three Angels,” “South Pacific,” “Tobacco Road,” “Picnic,” “Man of La Mancha,” and “Crimes of the Heart.”

Bradley also was active in other extra-curricular events.  During his career, he served as President of the Tennessee Theater Association, Dean of the Faculty for a Statewide Collaborative Academy, moderator for the 1990 Key West Literary Seminar, recipient of the college’s 1982 Outstanding Faculty Member Award, chair and/or member of numerous college and community committees, an appointee by the State Board of Regents to the Speech and Theater Sub-Committee of the Licensure Committee and the Commencement speaker at the college’s graduation ceremony in the year 2000.

Posted by admin in Founding Fathers, Profiles

Jim Cigliano

Jim Cigliano was one of the college’s original staff members.  His first position at the college was Director of Admissions and Records.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Lincoln Memorial University, where he played both basketball and baseball, and he completed his master’s degree at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK).  Prior to his arrival at Cleveland State, he served as a high school basketball coach in Delaware and later as an employee in the Office of Administration at UTK.

In the mid-1970s, Cigliano was selected as the Athletic Director and as the Dean of Student Personnel Services (his title later became Vice-President of Student Affairs).  In 1980, he was appointed by Governor Lamar Alexander to a statewide Tennessee Board of Regents Committee to study the financing of all community college and state university athletic programs.  In 1986 he became Director of Region VII of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), which placed him in charge of the board that governed the athletic programs of twenty-five two-year colleges in Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi.  He served in that position for fifteen years, and in 1989 he was appointed to the six-member Executive Committee of the NJCAA.

Cigliano served the college for 38 years (from 1967 to 2005) and his contributions to education and athletics were recognized by his selection to five Halls of Fame:  Cleveland State, Tennessee State Community Colleges, Bradley County Old-Timers, Lincoln Memorial University Professionals and Greater Chattanooga Sports.  He continued to support collegiate activities after retirement by serving as the Commissioner of the TJCAA from 2009-2015.

Posted by admin in Founding Fathers, Profiles

Striking at Opportunity

Just when a married policeman with kids thought he’d never go to college, Cleveland State stepped in.

It was the late 1960s. The Vietnam War was raging, labor strikes threatened the nation’s economy, civil rights protests challenged long-held beliefs and the drug revolution was in full effect. In the middle of it all, Larry Dean Wallace was married to his wife, Katie, had two children and was a Tennessee State Trooper.

He thought he had it all, until a new law opened a door he never considered walking through. A door he’d not considered even once—before or after graduating from McMinn County High School in 1962.

“The law made it possible for police officers to attend community college for free with a five-year guarantee of police service afterward,” Larry says. “I couldn’t go to college otherwise, so I took advantage of it.”

Just the Start

Once given the chance to further his education, Larry made the most of it. From one of his first English classes, during which a teacher gave him a D- for a paper that was “something a cop would write” to when he earned his CSCC degree in law enforcement in 1973, Larry remembers his CSCC experience fondly.

He enjoyed his time at college so much that he eventually went on to complete his criminal justice bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University in 1985 and his master’s from Tennessee State University in criminal justice administration.

Since joining the Athens Police Department in 1964, Larry has protected and served forty years. Three years were with the Athens Police Department, four were as Sheriff of McMinn County, fourteen as a Tennessee Highway Patrolman and twenty were with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. He held the rank of Colonel Commanding Officer with the THP for six years and was Director of the TBI for nearly a dozen.

Still Going Strong

Once he decided to retire, others saw an opportunity to make use of his considerable talents and experience. Tennessee Wesleyan University decided to start a criminal justice program, and administrators asked Larry to create the curriculum and teach a class during the first semester of the program. That turned into a three-year teaching stint and eight more years as the college’s Senior Vice President. Once he retired from Wesleyan, Larry was called upon by the City of Cleveland to serve as a consultant for easing tension in the Cleveland Police Department and hiring the City’s current Police Chief, Mark Gibson. He was also integral in finding Cleveland’s new City Manager, Joe Fivas.

Even with these accomplishments, the father of three, grandfather of five and great-grandfather to one says it couldn’t have happened without Cleveland State. And while he readily admits that the college provides a quality education, Larry insists CSCC specializes in something else.

“Cleveland State offers opportunities,” he says. “CSCC gave me the opportunity to have a good, rewarding career I could never have had.”

Posted by admin in Alumni, Profiles