November 5, 2020 | Betty A. Proctor | Internal Press Release
Having begun her long association with the College as a student in 1982, Julie Bennett said ‘so long’ to colleagues and students on October 31, as she begins a well-deserved retirement following 36 years of service to Chattanooga State Community College. “I have been planning my retirement for over a year (long before COVID),” states Ms. Bennett, “and I never expected my last six months to be so different … I have really missed seeing our students on a daily basis.”
Having served in various capacities at the College, including technical clerk, VA clerk, office manager and registrar, Julie, a South Pittsburg native, was appointed as Kimball Site director in 2000, making an unmistakable impact in her community and on the Importance of higher education in Marion County.
Opened in an abandoned church building in 1993, Chattanooga State served thousands of students at the Kimball Site over a 21-year period before moving to its new location at 2100 Main Street. “The last 20 years at the Kimball Site have been very exciting, and to see the growth from where we started in 1993 has been rewarding,” remarked Ms. Bennett. “With the support of Marion County, Chattanooga State was able to move into the new state-of-the-art facility in fall 2014.” Continued collaboration between the College and the county led to the completion of Kimball’s second building in 2018. “The newest building houses three Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) programs, and in spring 2021 the Medical Assisting program will be added for a total of four TCAT programs.”
“Incredible, dedicated, selfless, a director who stays on top of the educational needs of the Marion County community and ensures that Chattanooga State is able to meet those needs; a consummate professional and as a friend who has been a joy to work with over the years, Julie will leave a big hole, and big shoes to fill,” expressed Dr. Mosunmola George-Taylor, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, to describe Julie’s service to students and the College as a whole.
Students often view her as the person who is always available to help them while sharing laughs, and sometimes tears. Ms. Bennett has been known to hold babies for students while they take tests or fill out financial aid papers. To students, she is not just a staff member, but a motherly figure who loves her job but loves her students more. “Without Julie’s hard work and ‘stay on top of business’ attitude in the way she responds to students’ needs, the Kimball Site would not be what it is today,” shares Dr. George-Taylor.
Colleagues who Julie work with on a daily basis say they will find it difficult to part with her. Many characterize her as a mentor while others view her as a sister or family member.
Ms. Bennett’s leadership and intimate knowledge of Marion County enabled her to work in unified partnership with stakeholders at Chattanooga State, Kimball, surrounding communities, and Marion County, resulting in the completion of the vibrant Chattanooga State instructional site at the Marion County Institute of Higher Education.
“Julie’s connections with local businesses and industry helped ensure that students in Chattanooga State’s welding and industrial maintenance programs became employed when they graduated,” share her colleagues, “while her connections with the school system helped bring the Early College and Polytech Academy programs to the Kimball site.”
Julie’s selfless contributions are not only to Chattanooga State, but also to the community in which she lives. As a past member of the Marion County School Board she also served as board chair during some of those years. In addition, she is a Tennessee Promise Mentor and a member of the Rotary Club.
“I have enjoyed my 36 years at Chattanooga State and will truly miss being a part of the Chattanooga State family,” notes Julie, “and I will treasure the many friendships I’ve made.”
On Monday, November 2, the Kimball Site welcomed Patrick O’Hagan as part-time interim director until a new full-time director is hired. Mr. O’Hagan will divide his time between his duties at the Kimball Site and his work as program manager (contract training) in Chattanooga State’s Economic and Workforce Development Division.