On Wednesday of last week, an official recognition of the naming of the Scott County Roane State Campus was held. There was a large turnout of politians, school board members, teachers, local dignitaries, and the local media.
Dr. Chris Whaley, President, Roane State Community College, was on hand to welcome all the guests and to serve as moderator. He recognized several of prominent guests as well as members of the First National Bank Board and the Roane State Foundation Board.
Dr. Whaley went on to state that "Bill Swain was a driving force" in the creation of the Scott County campus. Whaley said that Swain had stated that "The future is in Education."
Dr. Whaley then turned the mic over to Wm. Paul Phillips, former District Attorney General and Roane State Foundation member.
Phillips stated that "Bill Swain would not have been in favor of naming." He went on to say that Bill did not want credit.
Phillips went on to give a brief history of the campus beginning with Swain donating his building supply building in 1993 to get the campus started. He and Jamie Cotton both taught there with a thin wall separating their two classes.
It was also in 1993, at the suggestion of Josetta Griffith, his Administrative Assistant at First National Bank, Mr. Swain enthusiastically endorsed an annual "mini-grant" program which funds local educators' innovative ideas for improved teaching. The program awards nearly $50,000 each year to Scott County teachers.
It wasn't long before the building grew too small to meet the demand, so Swain decided to give 40 acres to Roane State to build a new campus. A challenge was given to Mr. McDonald, a key Tennessee Tech supporter, to make a gift towards the new campus. Mr. McDonald gave $500,000 and TVA came up with a $100,000 gift. Mr. McDonald then challenged the State of Tennessee to match his gift. With all the red tape to get the state to donate anything, Mr. McDonald got tired of waiting and gave another $500,000 gift. The state eventually did match his initial gift.
Mr. Swain's tireless fund raising permitted the college to expand four times since its opening, and today it offers four-year degrees in cooperation with Tennessee Tech.
The first building addition on the campus was the Science Wing, and at the next meeting of the foundation board, Swain said "What's next?" That became his motto in life as far as the Roane State campus.
They next added the student lounge, then doubled the library size, and then added the TN Tech wing. This wing is how the 4-year degree program currently available to local students got started.
Phillips went on to tell how Bill Swain helped with getting the Scott High Museum going with an initial $5,000 grant. Mr. Swain also helped build the nature trail and solve the lake problem. Mr. Swain was a very 'hands on' individual when it came to the campus.
Phillips then went on to say that, of course, Mike Swain was always there to help. With his love of soccer, Mike and his wife Marsha were instrumental in getting the soccer field built, which was latter dedicated to them.
Of course, no recognition of Bill would be complete without also recognizing all the support his wife, Tomilee.
When Mike took the mic, he stated that his father would have said "What's all the fuss and bother?" He went on to state that his dad always believed that the campus "was the best thing that ever happened to Scott County." The goal was always to provide the opportunity for everyone to get trained and educated.
Roane State and Mike Swain then announced in a surprise move that the student lounge was being renamed the Paul & Iva Phillips Student Center.
The event then concluded with photo opportunities and refreshments being offered to attendees.