A Foundation for the Future

Written by Teresa Beasley.

Keeping Panola College Strong

When paying for college, every dollar counts, and the Endowed Scholarship program at Panola College benefits almost 100 students each year. Inside the Martha Miller Administration Building, along the hallway that leads to President Greg Powell’s office, are engraved plaques honoring the 136 individuals, families and organizations that have donated money to create Endowed Scholarships. Looking at these plaques is like a walk down memory lane in the history of the College and the community it serves. Some are in memory of sons and daughters lost too soon. Others honor people and organizations that have had a positive impact on the College and the community, including churches and corporations and their employees who have banded together to create scholarships.

The lifetime endowments generate funds that are awarded to students who apply and qualify based on financial need, academic standing, or participation in athletics or fine or performing arts programs.

The Panola College Foundation supports and promotes the College in many other ways, including providing grants to faculty members to enhance academic and technical programs. “Grants can be used for any project that allows for the pursuit of high-quality, imaginative, and innovative improvements of student success,” said Jessica Pace, Director of Institutional Advancement. “We also sponsor professional development opportunities, and help with purchasing equipment and supplies for various programs.”

With renewed emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics), last year the Foundation provided funds to enhance these programs, including new models for the biology labs in Carthage and the Marshall College Center. Grants were written by Darrell Hudson, Kevin Rutherford and Becky Gullette.

In college-level mathematics, it’s not enough to find the right answer; it’s crucial that students understand the critical thinking and problem-solving process used to obtain the right answer. Professor Emily Zabcik received Foundation funding to purchase a Smartboard with built-in SmartProject and Applications for the math classroom. She and Jennifer Coon, accounting professor, received the largest Foundation grant ever awarded, a $14,000 grant to create a mobile computer lab that will benefit students across multiple disciplines.

The Foundation supports certificate and technical programs as well, including a grant last year to cosmetology to purchase a new wig dryer. “The old dryer allowed mannequin heads to tip over and ruin the students’ work. The new wig dryers are top of the line, allow for larger drying capacity, and are fitted with pegs that allow the wigs to stay in place while they are drying,” said Bobbie Smith, cosmetology instructor.

The liberal and fine arts also receive support from the Foundation, which sponsored a traveling exhibit of political cartoons displayed in the Fay Allison Gallery of the M.P. Baker Library last year. “Because of this grant, Donnie Pitchford, a cartoonist himself, came to see the exhibit and loved it,” said Cristie Ferguson, librarian. “Through his visit, we have been given the opportunity to host a future Lum & Abner exhibit. This one exhibit led to another one because of a contact that was made.”

Art Professor Ann Boland wrote a grant that provides funds for a field trip to a major museum. Response was so positive that the grant has been renewed for several years. “Museums give students an opportunity to interact and engage in visual arts. For many students, this is their first experience in visiting a museum, and hopefully, will be the beginning of a life-long interest,” she said.

In 2016 the Foundation and additional donors placed the floating granite globe between the Gullette Technology Building and the Health and Natural Sciences Building. On the other side of campus, in front of the student center, the Millennium Tower, funded through donations by Frances B. Ross to the Foundation, rings out melodies throughout the day. The campus-wide speaker can also provide emergency alerts. Foundation funds also provided an inspiration garden in front of the Health and Natural Sciences Building, and Health Sciences departments are working to fund additional improvements to the green space. Donors may participate in this effort through the purchase of memorial granite benches.
Where do the funds originate? According to Brenda Giles, Chair, the Panola College Foundation depends on the generosity of people from all walks of life who want to support the educational mission of the College. “We are fortunate to have support from our board members and the community. We do all this for our students and teachers,” Brenda explained. “We are passionate about education and want to assist in seeing professors and students succeed.”

In addition to contributing to the Endowed Scholarships, people may make one-time gifts, or purchase brick or granite pavers in memory or in honor of a loved one. Regular contributors may become part of an ongoing donation program through the Sustainers group, and supporters are also making long-lasting decisions to support the College through Planned Giving by remembering the College through a will, trust, insurance policy, or retirement plan. “Planned Giving is a means to combine personal financial objectives with charitable goals,” Jessica said. “Through this arrangement, people are able to ensure a legacy of innovation and social entrepreneurship.”

The Foundation sponsors two major fundraising events each year—one  in the fall semester and one in the spring—and have included a Great Gatsby-inspired party and a Mad Hatter Tea Party, which together raised more than $50,000. Another fundraising event was the “Cruisin’ for College” car raffle that raised another $42,000. In fall 2016, the Foundation hosted a Designer Purse Bingo fundraiser in Center, netting more than $30,000 for the Foundation. A repeat performance in spring 2017 filled the Carthage Civic Center to capacity, and raised almost $40,000. Mark your calendars now for Thursday, Oct. 19, when the Foundation will host another Designer Purse Bingo at the Carthage Civic Center. Tickets go on sale July 10.

“Our students help out at these events,” Jessica said. “We’ve had the volleyball team, Green Jackets, Student Government, Phi Theta Kappa, and Occupational Therapy Assistant students volunteering their time at these fundraisers. These fun events not only raise funds for the Foundation, but they also give us the opportunity to showcase Panola College with people in our community.”

Panola College Foundation Board members are (L to R) Mr. Don Clinton, Mr. Troy Caserta, Mrs. Carolyn Murphy, Dr. Greg Powell, Mrs. Sandy Payne, Dr. John Ray, Mrs. Jodie Reed, Mr. Matt Pool, Mr. Pat Browning, Mrs. Brenda Giles – Chair, Mr. Phillip Grimes – Vice Chair, Mr. Bobby Phillips, Mrs. Fannie Watson, Mrs. Patricia Smith – Secretary, Mr. Will Lucas, Ms. Vicky Hudson, Ms. Ginger Borders. (Not pictured: Mrs. Kathleen Kruebbe, Mr. Jonathan Perlman, Mrs. Sharon Ivey, and Mrs. Jessica Pace)

Panola Foundation Scholarship Recipents Say...


“This generous contribution will help to further my education. Thank you for being supportive of the
Panola College students!”
Denecia Brown, 2004 CHS Graduate,
2017-2018 Scholarship Recipient,
Nursing Major


“Thank you so much! Because of people like you, it makes it possible for kids to attend college and find higher education.”
Ahna Stacy, 2017 CHS Graduate,
2017-2018 Scholarship Recipient,
Health Profession Major




“I really appreciate your generous donations to Panola College. It’s great
to know that people support this
community college.”
Aaron Gilchrist, 2016 Shelbyville
High School Graduate,
2017-2018 Scholarship Recipient, Forestry Major


“Thank you for caring about Panola College students and for establishing this scholarship. I assure you that I will use your scholarship wisely and hopefully one day I can pay it forward.”
Taylor Hughes, 2017 CHS Graduate,
2017-2018 Scholarship Recipient,
Nursing Major