Mar 28, 2014

Columbia State Hosts South Central Tennessee Educational Leaders Summit

Photo Caption: Attendees of the South Central Tennessee Educational Leaders Summit included (front row, left to right) Andrea Cooper, financial aid and student services coordinator at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Hohenwald; Susan Chapman, supervisor of career and technical education at Maury County Public Schools; Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State Community College president; and Dr. Ted Brown, Martin Methodist College president. (Back row, left to right) Allen Trull, supervisor of student and support services at the Lewis County School District; Tony Creecy, director of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Pulaski; Dr. Bill Heath, director of the Lawrence County School System; and Jacob Sorrells, deputy director of Marshall County Schools.

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. - March 27, 2014) - - - Columbia State Community College hosted the South Central Tennessee Educational Leaders Summit on March 26 to discuss current initiatives and changes at both the secondary and post-secondary level and to identify ways to increase collaboration between institutions.

The event, held on the Columbia campus, was designed for educational leaders within the South Central Tennessee region and included representatives from area school districts, Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology and Martin Methodist College.

The purpose of the event was to strengthen partnerships and increase collaboration between institutions, share resources for professional development and promote student success in an effort to increase the number of post-secondary degrees and certificates in the region.

Data obtained from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission shows that in the south central region the number of high school graduates that attend college the next fall is only 55 percent. This is not a percentage that the group found acceptable and they are committed to working together to increase the number of college-bound students.

The higher education "Drive to 55" initiative seeks to raise the number of citizens with post-secondary credentials to 55 percent by 2025. In order to meet that goal, all educational institutions will need to work together to help identify the barriers that prevent some students from continuing their education and work to ease the transition from high school to a college or university.

"It is important that we come together to identify the challenges for students and to make them aware of the educational and financial opportunities that are available to them," said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State Community College president. "Ultimately, as the educational attainment level increases in a community it has a positive and lasting effect on the workforce and local economy, which helps our communities grow."

The leaders present concluded they can be a strong voice for communicating the needs that increase the level of higher education in the south central region of Tennessee. As a result of the meeting, the group is exploring ideas to develop a consortium to focus on this need. The group will begin looking for grants and other forms of assistance to support the overall management and sustainability of the consortium.

The next meeting will take place in early June and will include further discussion of the consortium.

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee's first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, one of the largest higher education systems in the nation. For more information, please visit

Tennessee's Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at

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