President’s Updates for the Campus Community

September 25th, 2023

Published Monday, September 25, 2023 - 3:27pm

Dear Chattanooga State Family,

On Wednesday of last week, we celebrated as 24 new pre-apprentices and apprentices signed-on with Valmont Industries in Marion County. These students will take courses in Welding and Industrial Maintenance through our TCAT while also working at Valmont. Thirty-seven students have completed the program since this partnership with Valmont, Marion County Schools and Sequatchie County Schools began in 2019.  Eighteen of them work full-time at Valmont, while others continued their education with Chattanooga State or went on to work for other area manufacturers. At the signing ceremony last week, I learned that one participant went on to earn $80,000 per year with overtime at only 18 years old! I am so proud of this collaboration that is helping our students earn a family-sustaining wage.

I was pleased to learn that three Valmont pre-apprenticeship students have gone on to enroll in our Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) program in Engineering and IT. This program is a natural progression for students with a background in welding. Upon arriving at Chattanooga State in 2017, I quickly learned that Chattanooga State’s program is the only associate degree in NDT in the nation; I had never heard of non-destructive testing. Led by Tracie Clifford, this program prepares students to test welds in pipes used to transport fuel and other substances in fields like transportation and nuclear energy. They also test welds in critical infrastructure such as bridges. Students who complete the NDT program not only test welds and look for dangerous flaws, but they also save lives in the process.

Students who complete the TCAT Welding program are able to easily transfer to the NDT associate program. This articulation is aligned with our vision and is a prime example of the internal pathways to family-sustaining wages that we offer at Chattanooga State.


Save the date: Chattanooga State's 8th Annual Latin Festival on Saturday, October 14

It's a celebration of Hispanic culture packed with performances, activities, and food. The free community event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the main campus.  If your organization would like to host an activity or provide educational resources to attendees, please complete the online form. For more information, contact Libby Jenno, Organizational Culture and Engagement, or call 423.697.3220.


Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE) Survey is Open Now

Please encourage new students who are enrolled in credit courses and who are age 18 or older to complete the survey to let us know how we are doing so far. Eligible students can use their ChattState email address as the access code to complete the survey.



If you wish to express your gratitude to someone at the College in the Kudos section of the Employee Communication, please send your kudos to Chris Lykins or Leasa Summey by Friday of each week.

  • Kudos to Jeff Long for recommending a current student to Valmont Industries. They hired her, and she is now ChattState's first female registered apprentice in Industrial Maintenance!
  • Kudos to Tammy McDonough for her contribution to the TBR Aging Out Foster Youth Pilot and for representing Chattanooga State during a recent meeting with the Department of Human Services Commissioner for Foster Youth. This important work will create lasting opportunities for these young students.
  • Kudos to Rachel Wolfe at the front desk for assisting a young lady who was not feeling well.  She gave the lady some crackers and went to the cafeteria to provide her with a Gatorade to help with possible dehydration.  She did this without being asked, and when the lady tried to pay her, Rachel said she had taken care of it.  Just a great act of kindness.
  • Kudos to Sam O'Rear, who machined the parts needed for a FANUC robot in-house and got the class up and running so ChattState can deliver customized training for Lodge Manufacturing.
  • Kudos to Amanda Jordan for creating an informative Student Engagement Office SEO SharePoint for the campus community.
  • Kudos to the Recruitment Team for maintaining a helpful and informative Recruitment calendar featured on their departmental SharePoint for the campus community.
  • Kudos to Breanne Kintz and Paul Morley for visiting classrooms at Hixson High School!  They completed a hands-on engineering activity with the students and then shared information about the Engineering option available at ChattState.


Rebecca Ashford, Ed.D.

Past Updates

Published Tuesday, November 15, 2022 - 1:09pm
Published Monday, November 7, 2022 - 1:55pm
Published Monday, October 31, 2022 - 12:43pm
Published Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - 12:39pm
Published Monday, October 17, 2022 - 11:15am