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TTC Newbern welcomes familiar face to director role

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Brian Collins, director of the Tennessee Technology Center in Newbern, retired in November after nearly 30 years of service, including the last 15 in a director capacity. He left big shoes to fill, but TTC has found a familiar face to fill those shoes as Assistant Director Donna Hastings has been promoted to the role of director.

"I feel very fortunate and honored to have been chosen among so many other qualified candidates," said Hastings by phone.

TTC received 33 applications for the director position and chose four applicants to interview including Hastings. The search committee included a variety of people from industry, TTC faculty and students as well as a Board of Regents member. The committee narrowed the field down to two (Hastings and another individual) in late November to formally interview with Chancellor John Morgan and Vice Chancellor James King of the Tennessee Board of Regents. Hastings was chosen from that interview as the new director and was formally approved by the Board of Regents in December.

Hastings says that replacing Collins won't be easy, but feels that their similar management styles will lend itself to an easy transition.

"Brian taught me a lot," said Hastings. "Our framework here is wonderful. Other states, such as Ohio, are trying to model their programs after us."

Hastings has three specific goals in mind for TTC in the near future:

1. More exposure in the community

2. Reach out to local high school students and inform them of opportunities at TTC

3. A better working relationship with Dyersburg State Community College

TTC's reputation in industry and other technical schools is well known but now Hastings says she would like to work toward giving the school more exposure in the community. In order to do that Hastings is going to re-implement the school's annual fish fry in the spring. TTC will host a big celebration in May that Hastings says will be open to the community.

"We want to invite people in and have a meal with us," said Hastings. "We also want industry to come in and see what we have to offer."

Hastings says that she hopes to also receive more exposure at the area high schools. Currently TTC has approximately 30 students from Dyer County High School and Dyersburg High School, the lowest count that Hastings can remember. However, she believes that as more students learn of the opportunities available at TTC, more will want to enroll.

Hastings notes that the advantage of enrolling at TTC is that no one leaves in debt because they do not do student loans.

"I think that more high school students will want to get into technical areas in the future," said Hastings.

And looking to the future, Hastings says that she would like to have a better working relationship with DSCC. Hastings points to the success of TTC's nursing students and their ability to transition seamlessly into DSCC's nursing program to show that the two schools can work together to give students in the area excellent training for their crafts.

Hastings says that she is also currently exploring expanding TTC's program offerings. In addition, she stresses the fact that TTC can offer specialized industry training for anyone that needs it with the ability to customize training for businesses in the year.

"We can provide enough training for everyone to excel," said Hastings.

Hastings was born and raised in Newbern and is a graduate of DCHS. Hastings holds an accounting degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a master's degree from the University of Memphis. She worked as an occupational instructor at TTC before working in private manufacturing accounting for nearly 12 years, rejoining TTC in 2008 as an assistant director.

"The most important thing that I bring to the table is that I worked as a student," said Hastings. "I spent a lot of time working in industry. I am a small part of this. Our instructors are really what make this school. We have great instructors and great students."

Hastings has three sons: Shane Pledge, Steven Pledge and David Pledge and seven grandchildren.

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