Last updated on September 15, 2021
By Bailey Guy
Volunteer State Community College’s former President Dr. Jerry Faulkner has retired after nine years of service. The last day of his presidency was Tuesday, Aug. 31.
Faulkner is the third president to serve the college and began his work in 2012.
“It’s something my wife Wanda and I have planned for and talked about for a very long time because we wanted to have some time near the end of our lives to be able to do those things that we love to do. I didn’t want to die in this office,” Faulkner said with a laugh, “You just know when it’s time.”
Faulkner said he plans to spend his retirement with his wife outdoors, hiking, biking and traveling. He said he and his wife will also soon be moving to a home in East Tennessee that they call “Rabbit Rock.” They bought the house over 20 years ago for the specific purpose of living there during retirement.
Faulkner said he has what he calls a “possibility list” of things he would like to do during retirement, including being an interpretive naturalist at a national park and being a balloon wrangler at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Faulkner was recommended for this position nine years ago.
“Dr. Faulkner’s strong academic credentials, distinguished reputation and collaborative nature made him the right person to lead Vol State at this time,” said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan in 2012.
When asked what accomplishments he is most proud of since he became president in the fall semester of 2012, Faulkner said,“There are very few things I accomplished all by myself. It really takes a team, and we’ve got a great team here at the college.”
Faulkner said his pride for the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities Building, the renovations to the Warf Building, the acquisition of the Cookeville higher education campus, and seeing the graduation rate rise. Almost 13,000 students have graduated during his time here.
“I’m very proud of the time I put into building a sense of community on campus among our faculty and our students,” he said
“I appreciate Dr. Faulkner’s leadership over the years. Vol State is a strong institution that has been able to weather a great deal because of the solid foundation Dr. Faulkner helped provide. I certainly wish him and his wife, Wanda, all the best in their next adventure,” said Deb Moore, associate professor of English.
Covid-19 brought a lot of changes for Vol State, including transitioning to virtual learning.
When asked about the transition, Faulkner said, “I didn’t like it. I’m a people person, and I like to be together with people. I don’t think it was the best year, but all of our folks did an amazing job of using the technology to its maximum.”
Although his time at Vol State is over, Faulkner said he is “hopeful that we’re going to see a robust recovery from the pandemic. Enrollment was down again this fall [in result of the pandemic], but I know the college is going to strongly and quickly recover.”
Faulkner shared one last piece of advice to the students and teachers at Vol State. “Remember the life-changing possibilities associated with education. For the students, I know you face a lot of life challenges, but hang in there and do what you need to do to finish your education. And for the faculty and staff, help us all to never lose sight of the life-changing mission that the college has.”