Stories @ TCAT


Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology at Jacksboro & Oneida/Huntsville win College System of Tennessee’s first Partnership Award

NASHVILLE  (April 13, 2020) – The College System of Tennessee’s first-ever Partnership of the Year Award is presented to the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology at Jacksboro and Oneida/Huntsville for a partnership they established, along with Somerset Community College in Kentucky, to address workforce needs in eight economically distressed counties in the two-state region.

Established by the Tennessee Board of Regents, the Partnership Award recognizes colleges that have collaborated on new and innovative approaches and initiatives to solve a regional or local problem.

The partnership of TCATs Jacksboro and Oneida/Huntsville and Somerset Community College won a $1.5 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission – plus other federal, state and local funding for a total of nearly $2 million – to expand and enhance career and technical education for high school students and adults in the area. Part of the funding will put technical training equipment in 10 high schools and provide new dual-credit and dual-enrollment opportunities for the career and technical education (CTE) programs in those schools.

The Tennessee Board of Regents governs the state’s 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) and 13 Community colleges comprising the College System of Tennessee. The Partnership Award is one of three presented to colleges as part of the system’s Statewide Outstanding Achievement Recognition (SOAR) Awards. Roane State Community College won the SOAR Community College of the Year Award and TCAT Hohenwald was named the TCAT of the Year.

TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings announced the second annual SOAR Award honorees at last week’s quarterly meeting of the Board of Regents. The Partnership Award is new to the program this year.

“The partnership that TCATs Jacksboro and Oneida/Huntsville created with Somerset Community College epitomizes what we were thinking when we established this award – to encourage our community and technical colleges to work together, despite whatever service areas and boundaries exist, to best serve the students, other residents and businesses of their communities,” Tydings said. “They were up against some tough competition elsewhere in the state, but I’m proud of all three colleges for this groundbreaking project that will benefit the region for years to come.”

Criteria for the new Partnership Award included a demonstration of equal contributions by the partnering institutions to identifying solutions to a clearly defined problem, the development of innovative programs that support student success and workforce development, and the achievement of measurable and significant outcomes that address the defined problem.

TCATs Jacksboro and Oneida/Huntsville joined with Somerset Community College to develop a consortium that involved four Tennessee counties, four Kentucky counties, eight county governments, 10 school systems, three development districts, eight chambers of commerce, local drug courts, and jail and prisoner partners in the workforce training initiative.

The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded the consortium just over $1.5 million under its POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. The total of $1,974,667 in other federal, state and local funding will provide new and enhanced career and technical education and training for high school students, adults who are unemployed or under-employed, people with substance abuse disorders, and incarcerated individuals.

Specifically, TCAT Jacksboro will offer a new high school and college Building Construction program. TCAT Oneida-Huntsville will open new high school and college programs in Welding Technology, Truck Driving, Building Construction Technology, Diesel Power Equipment Technology and Industrial Maintenance, and add Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) training programs in additional counties in its service areas. Somerset Community College will expand the capacity of its Practical Nursing and Paramedic programs, and add new nursing programs in two counties in its service area, which will provide new training opportunities to graduates of the two TCATs.

“This grant is the largest of its kind ever awarded to any of these three colleges or other colleges in the TBR System,” said TCAT Oneida/Huntsville President Dwight Murphy. “The ARC POWER grant is the beginning of what promises to be a great and expanding partnership among TCAT Oneida/Huntsville, TCAT Jacksboro and Somerset Community College. I am grateful that Chancellor Tydings and the Board of Regents recognized the importance of our partnership to our area in selecting our three colleges for the first Partnership Award.”

TCAT Jacksboro President Debbie Petree said the partnership will benefit residents of the area long after the grant funding is expended. “Grant-funded equipment placed in our partnering high schools will prepare students there to articulate hours into our TCAT and community college programs for many years to come. The new programs at the two TCATs will provide training opportunities that is not available presently. This consortium has agreed to continue to meet to assure the success of the programs and to expand educational opportunities in the future,” she said.

In addition to the three colleges, six individual SOAR Awards were presented – to an Outstanding Student, Faculty Member and Staff Member of the Year, one each from a community college and a TCAT.

The individual 2020 SOAR Award winners:

Community College Student of the Year: Dominic Marcoaldi, Nashville State Community College.
TCAT Student of the Year: Ryan Olivia Cross, TCAT Paris.
Community College Faculty Member of the Year: Kathleen McAdams, Assistant Professor of Biology at Nashville State.
TCAT Faculty Member of the Year: Mike Sledzinski, Senior Instructor in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration at TCAT Knoxville.
Community College Staff Member of the Year: Sharon Edwards, Branch Librarian at Motlow State Community College.
TCAT Staff Member of the Year: John Lee, Industry Training Coordinator at TCAT Elizabethton.


The Tennessee Board of Regents established the SOAR Awards program last year to recognize and honor the outstanding students, faculty and staff members at its colleges, as well as the major accomplishments of the colleges.


The Board plans to honor all the SOAR Award recipients during a luncheon later in the year. Last week’s Board meeting was held by conference call due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 


SOAR would not be possible without support of the College System’s partners in sponsoring the event, including:


Event Sponsors 

The Ayers Foundation and BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee


Education Champions 

AT&T Tennessee, Denark Construction and Staples


College Champions 

First Horizon, Follett Higher Education Group and Orcutt | Winslow


Friends of TBR 

AllianceBernstein, Armistead Group, BarberMcMurry Architects, Bill and Pam Summons, Milek Media and WellVia

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The College System of Tennessee, governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents, is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students annually.


For more information, contact: 

Rick Locker

Director of Communications

Tennessee Board of Regents

Nashville, TN  37214-2428

615.366.4417 (office)

615.354.4050 (cell)