Reporter’s notebook

Photo: AACC

  • Phi Theta Kappa sues for trademark infringement
  • Maine governor signs free community college program
  • Partnership addresses CNA shortage in Colorado
  • Coca-Cola Pledges $1M to train more truckers
  • Play ball–again

Phi Theta Kappa sues for trademark infringement

The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK), the international honor society of community college students, announced Thursday that it is suing Las Vegas-based, Inc. for trademark infringement.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi alleges that the for-profit enterprise “knowingly and willfully” violated PTK registered trademarks and used visuals that looked very similar to PTK’s.

“ has deliberately confused students and diluted the value of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society membership by knowingly using a visual identity, marketing materials, regalia and online content which are strikingly similar to those of Phi Theta Kappa,” its president and CEO Lynn Tincher-Ladner said in a release. “The company has misled countless students into believing they were joining Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society when they were not.”

The Mississippi-based PTK, which has operated since 1929, has received more than 100 complaints from students who say they were misled by into believing they were joining PTK.

“We have a duty to all high-achieving community college students and the more than 1,000 colleges we serve, in the United States and globally, to vigorously protect Phi Theta Kappa’s well-earned reputation and trademarks from those who would seek to profit by imitating us,” Tincher-Ladner added. “We encourage anyone who believes they have been misled by this company to contact their state attorney general’s office or the Better Business Bureau.”

Maine governor signs free community college program

Maine’s seven community colleges are now offering up to two years of tuition-free college to all high school graduates from 2020-23 under the new Free College initiative funded in the supplemental budget signed Wednesday by Gov. Janet Mills.

“There is nothing more important than giving someone the tools and education they need to pursue their dreams and build a better life. Free College will help those people most in need, and boost our communities and state economy with more skilled workers earning good paychecks,” Maine Community College System President David Daigler said in a press release.

The supplemental budget includes a one-time $20 million allocation for free college, according to the college system. To qualify for the scholarship, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent from 2020-23, enroll full-time in an associate degree program or one-year credential, live in Maine while enrolled, and accept all federal and state grants, scholarships and other funding sources.

Partnership addresses CNA shortage in Colorado

Colorado’s Aims Community College and Banner Health have partnered to provide nonclinical workers at the healthcare provider an opportunity to advance their education to move into clinical roles such as certified nurse aides (CNAs), which are in demand in the state.

Banner employees in areas such as culinary and nutritional services or environmental services can get education and training to transition into CNA roles. They can take part in Aims’ six-week CNA certificate program, which includes 80 hours of theory and lab studies and 30 hours of clinical experience. Banner will cover students’ tuition, classroom materials, required background check and the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program certification exam.

Four students completed the program this spring and two others are registered for upcoming classes, according to Aims.

“This is a phenomenal model for success for organizations looking to upskill their employees through formal education,” said Terry Anderson, dean of allied health and wellness at Aims. “It is a program that provides a full wrap-around service and support for student success and is targeted to meet the workforce needs of an organization.”

Coca-Cola Pledges $1M to train more truckers

The Coca-Cola Company this week announced a $1 million donation to the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Foundation for its system’s commercial truck driving program.

The effort aims to raise awareness for commercial truck driving jobs, especially with the beverage giant, which has 85 openings for commercial drivers. The donation will help to fund 11 new full-time instructors and two part-time instructors at two-year colleges.

The “Delivering the Future: The Coca-Cola System & Technical College System of Georgia Truck Tour” will stop at five technical colleges from May 17 to May 26 to raise awareness about careers in commercial truck driving. (Photo: Technical College System of Georgia)

In addition, the donation supplements $8.3 million of support from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund that will provide facility upgrades, with the goal of doubling enrollment of commercial drivers across Georgia from 1,705 to 3,410 in 2023, according to the college system.

To raise awareness, Coca-Cola and TCSG also are rolling out a statewide truck tour that will stop at five technical colleges to promote the training program and jobs at Coca-Cola.

Play ball–again

Alabama’s Gadsden State Community College announced this week that it will reinstate its baseball and softball teams beginning this fall.

“We believe this is a good way to recruit, enroll, retain and support students. We are providing them a good collegiate experience,” said President Kathy Murphy.

The college’s baseball and softball teams were disbanded in 2011 and 2016, respectively. Murphy said the decision to reinstate the programs came after a community meeting in January to gauge public interest. A committee of local supporters discussed and researched the possibility of the reinstatements.

“Not everyone will agree with us on investing in sports, but that’s OK. They can be wrong,” Murphy said at a meeting this week at the college. “We need our community to come forward and support our athletic department. We need to see your faces when the bats are cracking.”

The college is also bringing back its men’s and women’s cross country teams, which ended in 2011.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.