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Beloved Vol State Professor Passes Away At 59

Posted at 4:34 PM, Jul 01, 2016

Students and staff at Volunteer State Community College have been mourning the sudden loss of a well-known teacher.

Chemistry Professor Parris Powers died this week of a stroke. He was 59.

“Professor Powers was an outstanding educator who was dedicated to student success,” said Vol State president, Jerry Faulkner. “On a couple of occasions I was present when his students were presenting.  He absolutely glowed with pride in the students accomplishments. He set a high bar for academic rigor but did everything possible to help students achieve at their highest. His involvement with the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative allowed him to make contacts on a national scale.  Condolences are pouring in from across America.”

Vol State described Powers as one of its most engaging professors.

He waded into streams with his students to take water samples and led study abroad trips, whatever it took to ignite passion for learning in his students.

“I was fortunate to occupy the office next to his, and I am so grateful that he was there for me every day to talk and provide invaluable insight and good will,” said Vol State associate professor of Biology, Robert Carter. “He was brilliant, honest, thoughtful, and a really fun guy. I cannot possibly describe how important he was to so many people and how many lives he changed in our classrooms.”

His students from the last 25 years who were involved in his classes, research projects, and study abroad trips have been posting remembrances from across the country:

“He was the best professor anyone could ask for. I learned so much from him. Not just chemistry and science. He guided all his students and mentored them,” said Virginia White. “He showed more passion about the subject than anyone I have ever met. He was the essence and example of a teacher and the kind of teacher I wish to be. I wish I had time for at least one more question.”

“Professor Powers had the unique ability to make such an individual investment into his students that he made each of them think they were his favorite,” Genna Batchelder said. “He cared not only about your grade in his class but your future and your interests and how those two things could intertwine.”

“Mr. Powers truly cared about me,” said recent graduate Seth Walker. “He would always do whatever to ensure my success. He was very down to Earth. We talked sports all the time! He was one of the best professors at Vol State. The college has lost a jewel.”

Visitation and a memorial service have been set for Saturday in Goodlettsville.