Jul 22, 2014

Columbia State Breaks Ground on Williamson Campus

Photo Caption: Pictured, left to right: Rogers Anderson, Williamson County mayor; Don Webb, Williamson Medical Center CEO; John Morgan, Tennessee Board of Regents chancellor; Rep. Charles Sargent; Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president; Dr. Ken Moore, Franklin mayor; Marty Schweinhart, Community Health Systems executive vice president of administration; Corinne Bergeron, Jackson National Life corporate social responsibility manager; and Barry White, Columbia State Foundation chair. Photo credit: Sarah B. Gilliam

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. - July 22, 2014) - - - Columbia State Community College faculty and staff, state and local officials, and community members gathered Friday, July 18 to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Williamson Campus.

Speakers for the event included Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president; John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents; Rogers Anderson, Williamson County mayor; Rep. Charles Sargent; and Dr. Ken Moore, Franklin mayor. Tom Lawrence of WAKM emceed the event.

Smith included many thanks in her speech and discussed the positive impact the new campus will have upon the completion agenda and the regional economy. She explained that the new campus will generate new income, support local jobs, sustain a skilled workforce, increase the lifetime income of students, and expand the state's economic base.

"The greatest impact is the mind that is changed and the life that is enriched. That's the real impact," Smith said. "That is the causative agent. That is what Columbia State is here to accomplish. That's what you have built, and I'm pleased that you've allowed me to be a part of it because a higher education that's widely attained will increase the development of any community, any state or any nation."

Smith also thanked Gov. Bill Haslam and the legislature for including the funding for the Williamson Campus in the 2014-2015 budget and for his leadership for increasing higher education opportunities for Tennesseans through the Tennessee Promise.

Morgan, who leads the sixth largest higher education institution in the nation, commented that the TBR understands that its responsibility is to deliver quality academic programs to serve the community and the state, as well as current and future students. He stated that the programs and services offered will be more successful if the students are able to attend college closer to home and have more local resources in order to become more engaged in their campus community and find more time to focus on studies.

"Our vision is a Tennessee population and a workforce that has the knowledge and skills to be competitive in a world economy," Morgan said. "This project supports that mission and raises the presence of quality education in this region."

Anderson thanked all involved, including donors and elected officials. He stated that the new campus is a major cornerstone for what Williamson County will see in the years to come.

"I can look out to the next 40-50 years and envision what this campus will be and what it will mean to so many people," Anderson said. "We have one vision in mind - to make Williamson County the best place to live, work, go to school and call home. Let the next generation come in here from behind us and say 'thank you.'"

Sargent spoke of the value of Columbia State to Williamson County. He thanked U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn for the work they did together in 2000 to start the ball rolling to obtain the campus. Sargent, who was pivotal to securing the funds to purchase the land and for the construction of the facility, thanked his colleagues, Sen. Jack Johnson, Rep. Glenn Casada, and Rep. Jeremy Durham.

"This is not about any one person or group. This is about the future. This is going to be a great place for our children and grandchildren," Sargent said. "We all need to celebrate because this is a win-win for all citizens of Williamson County and the surrounding counties."

Moore explained that it's a big deal to build a new campus from the ground up, which will ultimately help Franklin meet the demands of the growing workforce, as well as the jobs and economic development coming to Franklin and Williamson County in the near future.

"This is our college, and now it will be our children's college and our grandchildren's college," Moore said. "The future is now. Please be a part of it."

This call for action resulted in several donations during the ceremony, including a check from the Franklin Breakfast Rotary, presented by Denise Carothers, rotary president, and Dr. Paul O. Gaddis, rotary member and Columbia State Foundation trustee. Moore and Lawrence also presented their donations for the new campus. The community was invited to participate at every level to support funding for the Williamson Campus.

A 10 percent community match is required to access state funds. The silent phase has brought the Williamson community 50 percent to goal. Lead donors include Community Health Systems, represented by Marty Schweinhart, executive vice president of administration; Williamson Medical Center, represented by CEO Don Webb; and Jackson National Life, represented by Corinne Bergeron, corporate social responsibility manager.

The 36-acre property for the new campus, located at 1228 Liberty Pike in Franklin, was purchased in 2011. Phase I of the new campus will accommodate approximately 2,200 students and will consist of an arts and humanities building; a science, technology, engineering and mathematics building; and an administration and student services building.

Site preparation and construction will begin immediately. The goal is to open mid-spring 2016 with the grand opening in fall 2016.

Photo Caption: Rep. Charles Sargent and Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. Photo credit: Sarah B. Gilliam

Photo Caption:
Dr. Janet F. Smith addresses the large crowd during the Williamson Campus groundbreaking. Photo credit: Sarah B. Gilliam

Photo Caption: Dr. Janet F. Smith fired up the bulldozer after the Williamson Campus groundbreaking ceremony. Photo credit: Sarah B. Gilliam

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 www.columbiastate.edu.

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 tncommunitycolleges.org.

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