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Tusculum sponsors free federal income tax preparation program

Posted on 17 January 2017 by

A new program, implemented through the efforts of Tusculum College, will provide free tax preparation services in Greene and surrounding counties. The IRS-certified tax preparation program will provide three locations in the region where trained volunteers will be available to assist members of the public with the preparation of their tax returns.

Locations will include: Monday nights at Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union ’s community room in Gray, Thursdays at Tusculum and Saturdays at Greeneville Power and Light, starting Jan. 30.

The ACFCU has been a long-time partner with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in the area.

Led by Dr. Harold Branstrator, associate professor of management at Tusculum College, the VITA program offers a free alternative to the expensive services of a paid tax professional. The volunteers of the VITA program have completed roughly 1,000 returns annually since 2014, often saving clients $200 or more that they would have spent on payments for alternative, fee-based, services.

Taxpayers eligible for VITA services include: individuals with annual incomes of less than $54,000, individuals over 55 years of age, individuals diagnosed with a physical disability and non English-speaking citizens.

Appointments are required. Sites and days of operation include:

Mondays: ACFCU, 5034 Bobby Hicks Highway, Gray, TN 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.;

Thursdays: Tusculum College, 5:30-8:30 p.m.;

Saturdays: Greeneville Power and Light Boardroom, 110 N. College St., Greeneville, TN 9 a.m. – noon.

To schedule an appointment, call (800) 378-3778 and wait for the operator, or register online at



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Tusculum College students assist with FocusFirst vision project

Posted on 17 January 2017 by

Tusculum College students are working with Impact America to bring vision screenings to pre-school students through a project called FocusFirst.

Beginning in September, students from Tusculum participated in the project through the school’s annual Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day. According to Dr. Ronda Gentry, director of the Center for Civic Advancement at the college, six different daycares/preschools were visited and volunteers used a special high-tech photo optic scan camera, provided by the program, to identify any  child with vision issues. Those who were identified were then referred to local physicians who treated them at low/no cost.

The goal of FocusFirst is to provide a cost-effective direct response to the vision problems of children living in urban and rural communities. During Fall 2016, Impact America – Tennessee AmeriCorps Members, working with college student volunteers, provided free vision screenings to more than 14,500 children at 414 Head Starts and daycare centers located in low-income communities in 16 Tennessee counties.

Tusculum College became the first to partner with Focus First in the State of Tennessee, now joined by The University of Tennessee. For the spring semester, Dr. Melinda Dukes, professor of psychology, will be working with a group of her students to screen at daycares and preschools as part of a service-learning project for her courses.

According to Dr. Gentry, the plan is to make the assessments a regular part of the college’s service to community efforts.

Since the fall, 2,964 children have been screened in Northeast Tennessee.


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Valentine’s Dinner and Swing Dance to benefit Tusculum College band program

Posted on 13 January 2017 by

The Tusculum College Pioneer Jazz Band will host a Valentine’s Day Dinner/Swing Dance benefit on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at the General Morgan Inn. The reception begins at 6 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. The event includes dinner and a performance by the Pioneer Jazz Band, along with special guests.

The event is a fundraiser to raise money for much-needed equipment for the entire Tusculum band program, according to David A. Price, director of music at Tusculum College.

“This will be our fourth year for this event and it has proven to be a popular and enjoyable way to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” said Price. “Each year we have had tremendous feedback on the quality of the food, as well as the fun of dancing the night away to the sounds of jazz standards.”

Ticket prices for the event are $55 per person or $400 for a table of eight guests. Ticket or table purchases include dance tickets, free dance lessons, an opening reception, dinner and a special dessert. Please call in advance to request a vegetarian substitution. A cash bar will be available.

There will be dance lessons starting at 5:30 p.m. taught by Dr. Bob and Christine Thorpe the night of the dinner dance. This year in preparation for the event we are also featuring swing dance lessons at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31 and Thursday Feb. 9, in the Chalmers Conference Center in the Niswonger Commons on the Tusculum College campus. The lessons are free to anyone that has tickets and has signed up to attend the event. Dance lessons only are $10 per person.

Tickets are available for purchase at the General Morgan Inn or by contacting Price at 423-636-7303 or emailing A hotel package special is also available by contacting the General Morgan Inn at 423-787-1000.

Special table reservations are available for larger group seating by contacting Price.

The Pioneer Band Program at Tusculum College began in 2010, with the creation of the Pioneer Pep Band. The Pep Band became a much-enjoyed feature of the 2010 Pioneer football and basketball seasons, as the band performed at the Pioneer Club tailgate parties before each home football game and during pregame and half-time festivities.

Since that time a concert band, jazz band, marching band, handbell choir and several small ensembles have been added to the program. The groups play several events on campus each year, as well as events in the community.



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Old Oak Festival returns to Tusculum College April 21-23

Posted on 13 January 2017 by

The Old Oak Festival will return to Tusculum College campus April 21-23.

Featuring a wide variety of music and food and fun, the Old Oak Festival will span across three days, featuring something for everyone, be it live music, theater, arts and crafts or fabulous festival food.

Throughout the weekend on stage, the festival will present the sounds of the region, with a wide variety of music from bluegrass to jazz featuring local vocalists and instrumentalists.

There are limited spaces still available for artisan and crafter booths. Deadline for reserving a booth is March 31, or until all spaces are filled.

“This year’s festival is looking to be bigger and better, with great arts and crafts, performances and opportunities to enjoy a variety of fine arts experiences,” said David Price, director of Music and Band programs at Tusculum College.

This year’s special events will include an art show at Allison Gallery, student theater productions, literary readings, a student day on Friday and the return of the Lego construction contest.

There is no fee to attend the festival. Art vendor hours will be Friday from noon until 6 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, contact Price at 423-636-7303. Entertainment and food continues into the evening.

Service animals are welcome; however, no pets allowed. Coolers, firearms and alcohol are also prohibited on Tusculum College campus property during the festival. Lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged.

For updates and more information, visit the website at or on Facebook.


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Bill Bledsoe named interim chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Tusculum College

Posted on 12 January 2017 by

William “Bill” Bledsoe has been named interim chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Tusculum College, effective January 1. All academic offerings in art and design (studio art and visual communications design), theatre and music report through the Fine and Performing Arts Department.

“Bill has energy and vision,” said Wayne Thomas, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. “Bill is friendly and student-centered. Bill is a staple in our community and a longtime and strong advocate of Tusculum College. Bill is exactly who we need leading Fine and Performing Arts.”

Bledsoe has been an art instructor for 27 years and a working artist for more than 40 years. Prior to coming to Tusculum, he worked in both the Fine Art Department and Digital Media Department at East Tennessee State University, headed the Secondary Art Department at Providence Academy in Johnson City and coordinated curriculum and art instruction for the Mary B. Martin Foundation in conjunction with the McKinney Arts Center in Jonesborough.

Bledsoe’s career highlights include working as an artist for the United State Air Force in Europe, as assistant to art direction for Walt Disney/Pipeline Productions and as a freelance artist/designer with  NFL Properties. He was recognized as one of the 100 Outstanding Artists of Tennessee by the Tennessee Arts Council in 1991-1992 and Outstanding ETSU Alumni in the Arts in 2013.

He won Good Housekeeping Magazine’s award for Outstanding Children’s Book Illustration in 2006. He has illustrated numerous books and publications, created public artworks, contributed artwork for to raise funds and awareness of many charitable organizations. His artwork is in numerous personal and corporate collections nationally and in Europe, China and Japan. He is best known for his artwork commemorating the National Storytelling Festival for 27 consecutive years.

Bledsoe earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in graphic design and undergraduate degree in studio art at ETSU. He resides in Jonesborough, with his wife of 25 years, Jennifer. They have two sons, Will and Greyson, and a daughter, Cassity.


Bill Bledsoe, interim chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts


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Dr. Jo Alison Lobertini named assistant vice president of academic affairs at Tusculum College

Posted on 21 December 2016 by

Dr. Jo Alison Lobertini will join Tusculum College in mid-January as the assistant vice president of Academic Affairs and assistant professor of literature.

Dr. Lobertini comes to Tusculum from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, where she served as dean of adult and graduate studies and interim chair of the Department of Accounting and Business Administration.

As assistant vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Lobertini will be responsible for the oversight of the operations of the Graduate and Professional Studies program, including delivery of instruction and support services and facilities at all off-site locations. She will work collaboratively with the vice president of enrollment management and marketing to assure GPS programs are fully enrolled and aggressively marketed.

Additionally, she will ensure compliance with the Principles of Accreditation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and with other accrediting agencies and is responsible for developing and maintaining, while assuring accuracy of all administrative publications and policy documents for the GPS program.

Dr. Jo Alison Lobertini

“We are very pleased that Dr. Lobertini will be joining Tusculum College,” said Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum College. “Her experience in working with adult students and their particular educational needs make her a perfect match for this position. We look forward to having her as part of our academic and administrative teams.”

In her career, Dr. Lobertini has served as dean of the College of Adult and Professional Studies at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, and as assistant dean and chair of the School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach at East Tennessee State University. She also served as department chair during her time at ETSU.

She has Doctorate of Education, in postsecondary and private sector leadership from East Tennessee State University, a Master of Arts in English from ETSU and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Lobertini has served on the Advisory Board for the Unicoi County/Erwin Head Start and for the County Crisis Center. She has also served as a recruiter, mentor and facilitator for the Tennessee Scholars Program and as a mentor and speaker for the Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Program.

A native of LaFollette, Tennessee, Dr. Lobertini is married to Paul Mareth and has two children, Leland Davidson and Emily Davidson.


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Tusculum’s Dr. Nancy B. Moody Elected as Chair Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges Board

Posted on 15 December 2016 by

Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum College has been elected chair of the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. She is the first female elected to this position.

Dr. Moody has served on the SACSCOC board since 2012 and was appointed to the Executive Council in 2014. Additionally, Dr. Moody holds the distinction of being the first chair of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association Board of Directors, the first female president of Lincoln Memorial University and the first female president of Tusculum College.

Dr. Nancy B. Moody

As chair of the SACSCOC Board of Trustees, Dr. Moody will preside at all meetings of the Executive Council, the SACSCOC Board of Trustees and the College Delegate Assembly.  She will be responsible for the appointment of persons to fill vacancies on the Board of Trustees and make committee appointments. She remains a member of the Board of Trustees as well.

As president of Tusculum College, Dr. Moody has served the students of Tusculum College since 2009 and has embraced the opportunity to encourage faculty, staff, students and volunteers to push Tusculum College forward through creative teaching and learning, responsible stewardship and a renewed commitment to service and civic engagement. Dr. Moody has led Tusculum College into a new era of growth and expansion, in terms of bricks and mortar, academic programs and fiscal responsibility.

During her tenure, she was instrumental in securing a $45 million Community Facilities direct loan for the construction of two new apartment style residence halls, a science and math facility and to refurbish an existing academic building. Dr. Moody led efforts that secured a $3.875 million gift for the naming of the Ronald H. and Verna June Meen Center for Science and Math that will be completed in 2016, as well as numerous grants and gifts to support the Tusculum First capital campaign.

Dr. Moody heralds from Middlesboro, Kentucky, where she attended St. Julian’s Catholic School and graduated from Middlesboro High School. She earned associate and baccalaureate degrees in nursing from Eastern Kentucky University, a Master of Science in nursing from Texas Woman’s University (Houston) and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Alabama School of Nursing at Birmingham.

She held teaching and administrative appointments at Lincoln Memorial University, East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Dr. Moody was the inaugural Executive Director of the Tennessee Center of Nursing, funded initially through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (which she co-authored), BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and the Tennessee Board of Nursing.

During her career, Dr. Moody has been recognized by all three of her alma maters, Eastern Kentucky University, Texas Woman’s University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, where she received the Chancellor’s Alumni Excellence Award. Dr. Moody was also the inaugural recipient of the Founders Award, presented in February 2013 by the Tusculum College Board of Trustees who acknowledged her for distinguished service as an executive leader through her vision, hard work and dedication to Tusculum College.

She is married to Tom Moody, a self-employed public accountant. She and Tom are proud parents of two adult children, daughter, Mykel, and son, Adam.


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Used eyeglasses, reading glasses needed for mission trip to Cambodia

Posted on 07 December 2016 by

Prescription eyeglasses, reading glasses and financial donations are being collected at Tusculum College to support a mission trip to Cambodia through the Asia’s Hope organization.

Dr. Patricia Hunsader, dean of the School of Education at Tusculum College, will participate in the mission trip later this month and is working through the college’s Center for Civic Advancement to collect items for the trip.

For Dr. Hunsader, this will be her thirteenth trip to serve the region through work projects such as the medical clinic planned for this trip.

“The people in the area served by the medical clinics do not have access to eye care of any kind,” said Dr. Hunsader.  “We are not medical professionals, we work with the trained personnel in Cambodia, but we can provide energy, organization and financial resources.”

As part of that, Dr. Hunsader will collect the glasses and financial resources and take them with her to the clinic.

Anyone wishing to donate may do so at the drop off location in the Charles Oliver Gray North building on the Greeneville campus. Items need to be received by Wednesday, December 14.

“Our team will host a medical clinic and plan to provide prescription eyeglasses to adults from five slums in Phnom Penh, Cambodia,” said Dr. Hunsader. “All of the items collected will be used for this purpose.”

She added that plans are in the works for a second trip in 2017 that will be organized to include students at Tusculum College.


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Heritage Trust makes donation to Garland Library collections

Posted on 01 December 2016 by

At the November 21 meeting of the Greene County Heritage Trust, Museums of Tusculum Director Dollie Boyd accepted a copy of “Civil War Soldiers of Greene County, Tennessee: Vol. I,” a Civil War Sesquicentennial project of the Greene County Genealogical Society. The book was donated to the Tusculum College Library by the Heritage Trust. Its inclusion in the college’s library collection will ensure that it is available to genealogists, researchers, and students.

From left to right are Trust President Tim Massey, Museums of Tusculum Director Dollie Boyd and Trust Board Member Stevie Hughes.

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Tusculum College receives Tennessee Higher Education Commission grant for improved teacher quality efforts

Posted on 11 November 2016 by

Tusculum College has received a $74,991 grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to fund a regional educational effort to improve skills of high school mathematics and computer science teachers.

The grant will be used to fund the Tusculum College Python TEAM2 project, which is designed to enhance the content knowledge, pedagogical skills and pedagogical content knowledge of high school mathematics and computer science teachers in the high-needs school districts surrounding Tusculum College’s home campus in Greene County and its instructional sites in Hamblen and Knox counties.

Project participants will benefit from five on-site days of professional development in Tusculum College’s Meen Center for Science and Math along with a 10-month online credit-bearing course in the Python computer language. The content focus will be on the use of Python computer programming to solve mathematical problems. Participants will explore mathematical concepts, learn the Python programming language and develop programs to solve the kinds of problems they teach in their high school classrooms.

According to Dr. Tricia Hunsader, dean of the School of Education and professor of education, participants’ growth in content knowledge related to mathematics concepts, programming basics and the Python computer language will be assessed via a pre-test and post-test. Participant surveys will assess teachers’ perceptions of the learning experiences and their growth in content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and pedagogical content knowledge.

“The primary content objectives are to increase high school mathematics and computer science teachers’ knowledge of and practical skills in fundamental mathematical concepts directly applicable to computer programming, essential structures and algorithms used in object-oriented programming, the writing of Python code to solve mathematical problems and numerical methods applicable to the high school mathematics curriculum,” said Dr. Hunsader.

The program is a partnership among Tusculum College’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science within the School of Arts and Sciences, Tusculum College’s School of Education and regional high-need school systems, which include Greene County, Greeneville City, Hamblen County, Hawkins County, Jefferson County, Knox County and Washington County school districts.

THEC administers this federal program, which was established to provide grants for colleges and universities to develop and implement workshops for K-12 teachers in the areas of mathematics, science and humanities. The purpose is to establish a collaborative planning partnership between higher education and K-12 education for teacher preparation and continuing professional development. – See more at:


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Tusculum Commencement ceremony to feature Dr. Ron May

Posted on 08 November 2016 by

Dr. Ron May, vice president of academic affairs at Tusculum College and a 1968 graduate, will be the speaker at Tusculum College’s winter commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Dr. May will deliver the address to students at both ceremonies in the Pioneer Arena in Niswonger Commons on the Greeneville campus. The morning ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. The afternoon ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.

Dr. Ron May

“Dr. Ron May joined Tusculum College in 2014 and has helped guide us through a significant period of change in the academic arena,” said Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum College. His leadership has been invaluable as we steer the college through difficult times in higher education. He will most certainly leave Tusculum in a better place.”

Dr. May has had a distinguished career in higher education, retiring in June 2014 as president of Ancilla College in Donaldson, Indiana. In his career he has taught public school, as well as served as a college professor, department head, dean, vice president and twice as a college president, at Ancilla and at Louisburg College in Louisburg, North Carolina. Dr. May also holds faculty rank as professor of education.

In his career, Dr. May has been recognized by numerous organizations, including by the Leadership Marshall County program with their Leader of the Year Award in 2011. He served Tusculum College as dean of faculty from 1985 to 1988. He also served for a time as the president of the Tusculum College Alumni Association.

Dr. May earned a Doctorate of Education from Indiana University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from East Tennessee State University and an Associate of Science from Vincennes University. He returned to serve as interim vice president of academic affairs in June 2014.


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Tusculum College participating in White House Healthy Campus Challenge

Posted on 04 November 2016 by

Making sure students have access to affordable health insurance is the primary focus of Tusculum College’s participation in the White House Healthy Campus Challenge.

The Healthy Campus Challenge aims to engage college and university campuses, and in particular community college campuses, across the country in enrollment efforts of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Groups on participating campuses will implement focused activities to reach the uninsured both on campus and in the surrounding community, during the open enrollment period.

“We are aware that we have students on campus who do not have health insurance and have felt the need to address this issue prior to the announcement of the White House Challenge,” said Rev. Dr. Ronda Gentry, director of the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum College. “The challenge fits in well with what we were making plans to address, so it is a natural fit for Tusculum College.”

She added that additional activities will be held addressing how to live a healthy lifestyle that will provide opportunities to discuss insurance and its importance.

Tusculum Colleges efforts will include undertaking in-person enrollment activities on campus, sending e-mails to students and faculty reminding them of the opportunity to enroll in coverage, using social media platforms to highlight open enrollment for students, faculty and staff, as well additional educational programming on how to access insurance options.

Efforts began on Wednesday, Nov. 2, with the incorporation of healthcare-related activities into Tusculum’s S.P.I.E.S. program, a campus-wide Individual Wellness through Community Engagement initiative. The acronym S.P.I.E.S. stands for social, physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. During the S.P.I.E.S. event, staff talked with the approximately 250 students in attendance about the healthcare exchange and walked interested students through the application process. Additional activities were designed to educate students on simple exercises they can add to their day, as well as how to eat healthy on a college student budget. Students also participated in group biking, trail hike, lawn games or yoga activities.

The 2016 White House Healthy Campus Challenge builds on the successful 2015 White House Healthy Communities Challenge, in which Milwaukee – the challenge winner – saw about 38,000 people newly select a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace during the open enrollment period.


Students participated in a healthy lifestyle event at Tusculum College on Wednesday that included learning about health insurance options and is part of the college’s participation in the White House Health Campus Challenge.


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