Campus News

UT Martin Parsons Center celebrates 10-year anniversary


Contact 1: Erin Chesnut

MARTIN, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee at Martin Parsons Center celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a public reception Jan. 17. Dr. Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor, and Jim Ayers, a co-founder of The Ayers Foundation and major donor to the center’s West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation Nursing Wing, offered remarks during the program.

“UT Martin history goes all the way back to about 1900 when it was originally called the Hall-Moody Institute. It has been a big part of West Tennessee ever since then,” said Ayers. He also praised the involvement of the community and its dedication to making the UT Martin Parsons Center a reality 10 years ago.

“There are a lot of people in this community (who) dug down in a meaningful way and wrote $50,000, $100,000 checks. You know, we’re a pretty conservative community around here. You’ve got to have something really worthwhile to get people to write checks like that. … This community and this county (are) already better off as a result of the economic benefits that our children and our grandchildren have achieved by being able to attend school at home,” he added.

Carver, who began his duties as UT Martin chancellor Jan. 3, was serving as assistant vice chancellor for development at UT Martin when the Parsons location was first considered. He played a personal role raising financial and community support for the center and offered remarks on the center’s growth since that time.

“This (the center) was a great example of what public, private and state partnerships could look like. When you imagined it 10 years ago, and then you fast-forward now to a record enrollment … and a parking lot that’s in overflow, that’s a tremendous success,” he said. Carver stressed UT Martin’s goal of student success and regional engagement, and called the UT Martin Parsons Center a blend of those ideas.

“I’ve spent the morning with students and faculty, and people are excited to be here. They’re coming through, and they’re getting good advice. They’re graduating; they’re going on to other schools. They’re entering the workplace, and they are successful,” he said. “The (UT Martin) Parsons Center helps us fulfill the regional outreach mission. It allows the University of Tennessee brand … to be right here. So I’m telling you, we’re committed to Parsons; we appreciate Parsons; and we’re happy to have you as part of the UT Martin fabric.”

Carver closed by thanking Dr. Kelli Deere, UT Martin Parsons Center director, for her years of service and leadership at the center and in the community. Deere earlier noted a total of 278 graduates since the center began and 340 students enrolled for the spring 2017 semester.

Tammie Patterson, lecturer in educational studies at the UT Martin Parsons Center, has worked with the location since its opening 10 years ago. She says the small-town atmosphere and community support is part of what makes the center such a successful place for students to obtain their degrees.

“I feel an obligation the minute they start here. I feel an obligation when they’re not here to find out why they’re not here, and I feel an obligation when they graduate to make sure they find a job. I think that’s what sets us apart,” she said. “We are small enough that I still know them. And a lot of these kids, I know their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters too, because we’re still in this small area. That’s a really great thing.”

Students at the UT Martin Parsons Center can work toward degrees in education, nursing, education, criminal justice, social work, psychology, history, business and interdisciplinary studies.

For more information on the UT Martin Parsons Center, contact Deere at 731-847-3880 or by email at


PHOTO ID: Dr. Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor, addresses a crowd of faculty, staff and students from the UT Martin Parsons Center, as well as community members who attended the center’s 10th anniversary reception Jan. 17.

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