The City of Dickson is working with leaders of Nashville State Community College to find a temporary location to continue housing classes in Dickson after it leaves The Renaissance Center campus this month.
Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. informed the Dickson City Council at its meeting Monday, July 18, that the city is drafting an agreement to allow Nashville State to use the current Dickson Senior Center building after the senior center moves to its new location on City Lake.
“They are in a position right now that if they can’t find space we could lose Nashville State,” Weiss told the council. “If we lose Nashville State, the odds of us getting Nashville State back to Dickson, Dickson County, are slim to none.”
Nashville State has leased space and offered degree-level classes at The Renaissance Center on Highway 46 in Dickson since 2008. Freed-Hardeman University recently announced it has sold the property to David Rives Ministries of Lewisburg, which plans to convert the former arts and technology education and multimedia center into a Christian-based science museum and television production facility.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Nashville State President Dr. Shanna Jackson said the college will not be able to continue offering classes at The Renaissance Center and must be out of the building by July 28.
Jackson said Nashville State has arranged with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Dickson to continue offering classes in Dickson for the Fall semester that starts next month.
“I am excited to tell you that we have worked out a one-semester agreement with TCAT-Dickson that will allow the college to continue to have a physical presence in Dickson,” Jackson said. “Administration and support services, along with some classes will be at TCAT. The student services team will begin working out of TCAT on Aug. 1.”
Jackson said the arrangement for the Fall semester will include a combination of in-person and virtual classes.
“We have been and will continue to enroll students for the Fall semester, which begins Aug. 22,” Jackson said. “While our long-term solution is to find a permanent location and build a campus, we are working on a longer short-term solution through continued discussions with the city, county, private industry, non-profit leaders, local school system and with TCAT-Dickson.”
Jackson expressed appreciation to TCAT’s leadership for working with Nashville State to continue providing educational opportunities in Dickson.
“I would like to thank TCAT President Dr. Arrita Summers and her staff for working to accommodate our staff and students,” Jackson said. “She continues to be a true partner in this and several other endeavors.”
Weiss told the council he believes it is critical that local leaders do everything possible to keep Nashville State in the community.
“We don’t want to lose Nashville State. We feel like Nashville State is very important to our community,” Weiss said. “We feel like if we lose Nashville State, the odds of getting them back here are very slim.”
With renovations continuing to turn the former Dickson Athletic Club on Payne Springs Road into the new home of the Dickson Senior Center, Weiss said Nashville State has determined the current center at 206 West Walnut St. can provide a temporary home for Nashville State while it works to acquire property and build a permanent location.
“They feel like that will work for them on a temporary basis. By temporary we’re talking about three years,” Weiss said. “They are looking to build their own facility. They’re looking for property as we speak. They’ve identified a couple of different pieces of property. Dr. Jackson is very committed to Dickson and Dickson County. She wants to see a center of higher education here. Nashville State wants to remain in Dickson and Dickson County, if at all possible. But they’ve got to have space.”
“I would like to reiterate that I truly do believe this change will prove to be a positive step in the future of Nashville State and Dickson County,” Jackson said in her statement. “Once we secure a permanent new home, we will be able to grow and expand our programs and services to meet the growing needs of Dickson and the surrounding communities.”
The city had planned to move the Dickson Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division and Training Division out of the Municipal Building into the former senior center building, but Weiss said he believes keeping Nashville State is important enough to delay those plans.
“We may have to put some things on hold that we wanted to do to try to keep Nashville State here in the city and in the county,” Weiss told the council. “But we feel like it’s very important that we try to help Nashville State. We are working on a memorandum of understanding with Nashville State right now for the existing senior center. We feel like we can be in the new senior center sometime in October, as long as we don’t have any hiccups along the way.”
Weiss told the council he expects to present the MOU for its approval in August or September. Nashville State will make renovations to the building and could begin offering classes there with the Spring 2023 semester scheduled to begin Jan. 17.
Weiss said when Nashville State acquires property and begins working on plans for a Dickson campus, the state’s building process will include a local match of around 10 percent of the cost from the community, unless the land and campus are privately funded.
Prior to the sale of The Renaissance Center, Freed-Hardeman announced a reduction in its class offerings and a teach-out plan to allow students seeking a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing to continue their classes in Dickson and at its Henderson, Tenn., campus. Freed-Hardeman has not announced plans for continuing in Dickson beyond its current semester.
Founded in 1970, Nashville State Community College is a Tennessee Board of Regents-operated institution with four campuses in Nashville, one in Clarksville and another in Humphreys County. The college offers more than 80 programs for associate degrees and technical certificates, some of which can be earned in a year, as well as the initial two years toward four-year degrees