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Business Monthly - TCAT-McMinvville moving forward
TCAT staff members.jpg
Pictured are staff members at Tennessee College of Applied Technology, from left, Brooks Young, Tennille Davenport, Kim Rymer, and Dawn Winton.

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) at McMinnville is located at 241 Vo Tech Drive. The new TCAT president as of Sept. 1, is Dr. Melody Edmonds.  

Melody went through the competitive candidate process that TBR (Tennessee Board of Regents) has successfully used for many years. She was one of four finalists who came for intense group interviews on campus.  In the end, Melody was selected.  

Melody began her education at Motlow Com-munity College in McMinnville. After two years at Motlow, Melody transferred to MTSU where she earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She then attended Tennessee Tech to earn a MBA.  

Melody earned a Certificate of Community College Leadership from MTSU. Last year, Melody earned a doctor of education degree in Educational Leadership from East Tennessee State University.  

Melody’s higher education career began with being an instructor of business and computer science at Motlow - McMinnville for a period of five years. Then Melody became the director of the Motlow-McMinnville campus for a period of 15 years, during which the campus doubled in size during the 2007-08 academic year.  

The student enrollment also doubled in size during that time. Melody was asked to become an Interim VP for Academic Affairs for Motlow Community College which she did for three years. Her title was changed to Assistant VP Academic Affairs which covered another two years.  

Melody is married and lives with her husband in Sparta. Her husband is retired from owning a plumbing and electrical store. They have one daughter and two granddaughters.  Their daughter works at a bank in Sparta. For hobbies, Melody likes to read and visit parks.   

Melody’s work in Academic Affairs was well suited for her new assignment. In Academic Affairs, she worked with several people, developed new programs, and put together articulation agreements with TCAT’s and universities. An example of these agreements is the very successful Tennessee State University 2+2 program which can lead local Motlow students to a four-year bachelor’s degree.  

I asked Melody what attracted her to the position of president at TCAT-McMinnville.  She advised she has always loved Warren County. She also enjoys seeing students from the beginning of their higher education to the end of same.  

Melody’s key staff members are as follows:

A. Tennille Davenport – Coordinator of Fiscal Services

B. Kimberly Rymer – Coordinator of Practical Nursing

C. Brooks Young – Coordinator of Workforce Development & Industrial Affairs

D. Dawn Winton – Coordinator of Student Services & Financial Aid

Melody’s priorities for 2021 are to meet with key people across Warren County doing a needs assessment for TCAT-McMinnville, complete and pursue GIVE Grant Two which was submitted in mid-September, do data gathering that could lead to planning for a new TCAT facility in McMinnville.  

GIVE Grant One resulted in TCAT receiving a $1 million grant to start a Machine Tool Technology program at Warren County High School. In its second year since the grant, student headcount has swelled into the mid-30s.  

GIVE Grant Two will also concentrate on expanding dual enrollment programs in DeKalb, Grundy, Coffee, Cannon, and Warren Counties. For Warren County, this Grant would provide the ability to expand a Construction Trades program at WCHS.  TCAT is starting a Building Construction Trades program at its main campus this October.  

Part of GIVE Grant Two, if successful, would provide the funding for a Career Awareness Day for seventh-graders from across Warren County to spend a half day at TCAT’s main campus in McMinnville. Eighth-graders must declare their high school academic intentions, so this plan would be timely.  

A Master Planning group has been assigned the task of doing the due diligence and planning on the procurement of a new TCAT-McMinnville facility. This process is expected to involve a 3-5 year time span. This will likely involve a new facility as well as renovation of the existing facility. That type of approach would allow for classes to continue without stoppage.

TCAT’s fall semester began Sept. 1. Student headcount is at a record 411, up from 381 a year ago, an increase of 7.9%. Of these students, 46 are using TN Promise and 37 are on TCAT ReConnect. These state of Tennessee higher education initiatives are working. Of this total, there are 87 dual enrollment students at the high school level.  

Melody did advise that a TBR Grant was received that will allow the addition of a part-time success coach on staff by Nov. 1. This person will focus on assisting students with “soft skills” – resume development, interviewing skills, interview preparations, etc. This should become a results-oriented staff asset.

I asked Melody what her personal priority was for her new job. Melody wants to promote the use of TCAT ReConnect for all adults of our area 24 years old or older to be re-skilled or up-skilled through gaining a technical skill at TCAT. This would not matter what higher education a person may have. Melody plans to concentrate on this opportunity. Melody did advise that the UCDD (Upper Cumberland Development District) will be assisting TCAT-McMinnville with marketing services.  

Dr. Melody Edmonds is in a new position, but well known by many in the higher education circles of Warren County. There is universal gratitude that Melody will be leading TCAT at McMinnville. BRAC is fully in support of this appointment.  Congratulations to Dr. Melody Edmonds.