The Tennessee College of Applied Technology Ripley is one of 27 TCATs and 40 total institutions in the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) system that are located across the state, serving the citizens of Tennessee. The TBR and the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee System are coordinated by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). THEC was created by the General Assembly in 1967 to achieve coordination and unity in the programs of public higher education in Tennessee. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology Ripley formerly the Ripley State Area Vocational-Technical School, under the direction of the Tennessee Board of Education, first opened its doors on November 13, 1967. All initial students of the school were Ripley High School juniors and seniors. Course offerings included Auto Mechanics, Electronics, and Office Occupations. The first certificates of completion were issued to students in May of 1968. The first postsecondary students were accepted at the campus in 1973, enrolling in the Practical Nurse Education program. Additional adult enrollment in other programs began in 1974 on a space available basis. A Basic Skills class (Technology Foundations) was added in 1979. This program was designed to provide remedial opportunities for adult students.
The TBR system was created by legislation enacted by the 1963 General Assembly of Tennessee, Chapter 229 of House Bill 633. Chapter 181, Senate Bill 746-House Bill 697, of the Public Act of 1983 transferred the governance of the state technical institutes and area vocational-technical schools from the State Board of Education to the Tennessee Board of Regents. The transfer became effective on July 1, 1983. In May 1993, a joint proposal from community leaders and center personnel was made to the Tennessee Board of Regents requesting relocation of the Ripley State Area Vocational Technical School. With a pledge of $100,000 from Lauderdale County and donated land from the City of Ripley, the project was approved for inclusion on the State’s Master Plan. By action of the Tennessee Legislature in 1994, the school name changed from Ripley State Area Vocational Technical School to Tennessee Technology Center at Ripley. Groundbreaking for the new facility was held on December 19, 1995. Classes began on March 31, 1997. With the opening of the new facility came the addition of new class offerings and termination of a previous class offering. Computer Aided Drafting, Computer Operations Technology, and Commercial Truck Driving were added while Auto Mechanics was closed.
In 2013, the Legislature unanimously approved changing the name of the state’s technology centers to the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. The Tennessee Board of Regents, the governing body for TCAT Ripley, underwent a major shift in 2017 because of the FOCUS Act of 2016 and the appointment of a new Chancellor, Dr. Flora Tydings. The FOCUS Act seeks to ensure the state’s community Colleges and TCATs are organized, supported, and empowered in efforts to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential. Largely this involved the development of local governing boards for each of the six universities thus allowing TBR a greater focus on the 13 community Colleges and 27 TCATs. Additional TBR efforts under the leadership of Dr. Tydings included the retitling of the chief administrative officers of the TCATs Director to President; the movement towards all 40 campuses in the TBR system operating with shared services; and, the restructuring of the TBR organization uniting the community and TCATs through common offices and services.
Bells Service Delivery Area
In 2001 the Service Delivery Areas (SDAs), as designed by the Tennessee Department of Labor, were changed statewide. Included in the new SDA for Ripley was neighboring Crockett County. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology Ripley, seeing an opportunity to expand, approached the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Jackson about taking over a struggling Practical Nursing Program at an Alamo, TN location. TCAT Jackson readily agreed to transfer the program. Once an agreement had been reached, TCAT Ripley approached the Crockett county Board of Education about forming a partnership. The proposal was to offer additional post-secondary classes at the site where the current Practical Nursing program was being offered. A new building was erected in Bells, Tennessee with the intent to house various educational programs. This project was a partnership between local and state government, the Tennessee Board of regents, and private donations. In January 2011, the move was made to relocate students from the Alamo facility to the new Crockett County Higher Education Center in Bells, Tennessee. The ribbon-cutting was held on February 11, 2011. TCAT Ripley offers programs at the Bells Service Center including Patient Care Technology/Medical Assisting and Practical Nursing.
Currently, the college has eighteen (8) programs with certificate and diploma levels in each program. Students may be enrolled in these programs on a part-time basis if they are unable to attend full-time.
Current Educational Programs by Campus
- Barbering Ripley
- Computer Information Technology Ripley
- Cosmetology Ripley
- Emergency Medical Technology Ripley
- Health Information Management Technology Ripley
- Industrial Electricity Technology Ripley
- Manufacturing Technology Ripley
- Patient Care Technology Ripley
- Practical Nursing Ripley/Bells
Directors and Presidents
Tom G. Hall June 1972 – October 1975
Jerry Little January 1976 – December 1998
Brian Collins January 1999 – 2011
William Ray July 2011 – January 2015
Dr. Youlanda Jones July 2015 - Present