|MARTIN, Tenn. – Almost 20 years without a home of its own in Madison County ended Tuesday as the University of Tennessee at Martin opened a new Jackson Center at 3031 Highway 45 Bypass. Elected officials and Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce representatives were among those who joined UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes and University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro for a 3 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at the entrance to the new facility.
UT Martin previously had locations at Lambuth University, the West Tennessee Research and Education Center, Tennessee Technology Center-Jackson and Jackson State Community College. The new facility is being leased from the builders with expansion options as enrollment grows.
“For almost two decades, … we’ve been serving in Jackson, and this is the first time we’ve been in our own facility,” said Rakes. Non-traditional age students will be the largest market for the center, Rakes said, but he predicted traditional-age college students and others would also take advantage of expanded educational offerings. He also pledged to “quadruple our efforts involving non-credit instruction of all kinds,” including health-care related programs.
“I could not be more pleased to have this location and the individuals involved with this,” Rakes added. “The Jackson-Madison County area is our biggest demographic, and we needed our own footprint here to serve – do the focused types of activities that we think help the future for the economy for this part of the state and certainly meet the mission of UT Martin.”
Degree offerings at the center will include a Bachelor of Science in Social Work, the Bachelor of University Studies and a Master of Science in Education with a new emphasis in online teaching. The center includes 6,000 square feet, five classrooms, a distance-learning facility, a computer classroom, a library and a biology lab. Bethany Worley, center director, said that current UT Martin classes in Jackson will move to the new center Oct. 17.
The center will also continue to serve as the point of contact for the university’s Dual Enrollment Program, which enrolls almost 500 students from throughout Tennessee. Dual enrollment allows high school students to take approved courses that carry both high school and college credit. Dual enrollment courses include agriculture, art, English, history, math and more.
UT President Joe DiPietro is no stranger to the area, previously serving as chancellor for the UT Institute of Agriculture, which brought him often to West Tennessee. “UT Martin is a prized member of our UT family and has been a prized West Tennessee institution, serving this region for more than a 100 years,” DiPietro said. In noting the importance of Jackson-Madison County to the University of Tennessee, he said that nearly 3,200 UT graduates live in the area adding, “About 700 students from Madison County are enrolled on a UT campus right now.”
“The bottom line is, we’re here in Jackson. We’ve been here, and we plan to grow here. Great things will begin here and be attributed to this center,” DiPietro said.
Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist reminded the crowd of the new location’s high visibility as approximately 35,000 vehicles pass by each day. “We are so pleased that you all are here,” he said. “By virtue of you being here, you’re going to continue to help us educate our students, not only young people, but those that are pursuing degrees that have been out in the workforce.”
“UT Martin’s been a stalwart in West Tennessee for many, many years,” said Jimmy Harris, Madison County mayor, adding, “We are glad to have you. We congratulate you. I think you will do very well here in this location.”
For information about the UT Martin Jackson Center, call 731-425-9277, 1-888-UTM-GRAD, or email email@example.com.