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News: Roane State students benefit from retiree’s enthusiasm, expertise

News: Roane State students benefit from retiree’s enthusiasm, expertise

Jim Gries

Feb. 5, 2018

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. - When this executive at high-powered information technology firms retired a year ago at age 70, "I got very bored, very quickly." According to Jim Gries, "You've got to keep doing something."

So Gries jumped into volunteering, and his life experiences and expertise have become a boon to the Fairfield Glade community and to students at Roane State's Cumberland County campus.

Gries volunteers in the campus Learning Center. He helps Roane State students sharpen their skills in college algebra, pre-calculus and statistics.

He said he uses his business expertise as real-life examples of how statistics can be used in strategic planning and forecasting the probability of success in a business endeavor.

Gries said he met Holly Hanson, director of the Roane State campus in Crossville, during a volunteer fair last summer. She at first urged him to tutor night classes before convincing him to be available to help students two mornings a week.

Gries had previously taught information technology and management courses at various colleges, "and I like teaching," he said. "It's intellectually stimulating."

He said he's impressed with the caliber of Roane State students. "You get excited when they (students) ask questions. They've either had very good teachers or are very smart kids - or both."

The students, he said, "ask good questions and do their homework."

Gries also volunteers in Fairfield Glade, now home to some 6,000 residents. He and his wife of 48 years, Maureen, have lived there more than three years. In other volunteer work, he gives rides to residents who don't drive as part of the “Way to Go” service and serves on the community's strategic planning committee.

One of 10 children of a family that lived in Chicago, Gries said his parents taught him that education was the ticket for escaping from an inner-city environment.

He obtained a bachelor's degree in physics from Western Illinois University, went into information technology after he was drafted into the Army, and, later obtained a MBA in Systems Management from DePaul University in Chicago.

​In addition to being a partner in a CPA firm, his career included being a chief information officer of a national engineering firm, a senior vice president of operations for Thompson Legal Publishing and a consultant in the supply chain field.

To learn more about academic programs at the Cumberland County campus, call (931) 456-9880.

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