Southwest Tennessee Community College

For Immediate Release

Date March 13, 2008

For More Information: Robert G. Miller (901) 333-4368/ Fax (901) 333-4503                                                               E-mail:

A New Facility for Southwest in Southeast Memphis Will Soon Become a Reality

Southwest Tennessee Community College is pleased to announce the groundbreaking ceremony for its new Maxine A. Smith Center in southeast Memphis. The ceremony will be held at the site located at 8800 East Shelby Drive on April 3 at 11 a.m.

The Maxine A. Smith Center will replace Southwest’s Southeast Center currently occupying the corner of Winchester and Mendenhall. The replacement center is being named in honor of Dr. Maxine A. Smith who has devoted much of her life to education. The former college French instructor served two terms as a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents. Her early contributions to the forerunners of Southwest Tennessee Community College, both Shelby State Community College and State Technical Institute, have been numerous to say the least. As a strong advocate for education at all levels in Memphis, Dr. Smith often championed education and community service, in which the predecessor institutions of Southwest, for example, were the primary beneficiaries. Then Tennessee Board of Regents member, Dr. Maxine A. Smith, was the speaker at the first fall commencement of Shelby State in 1994. In addition, she served as the commencement speaker for State Technical Institute in 1995. Dr. Smith was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents on July 29, 1994, representing Tennessee's Ninth Congressional District. She was reappointed on July 1, 2000 and served until June 30, 2006.

Dr. Smith is also known for her significant longtime contributions to the civil rights struggle in Memphis. She has been a board member of the Memphis Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People since 1957 and served with distinction as its executive secretary for 33 years. Dr. Smith served as the elected president of the Memphis Board of Education from 1991-92, where she served 24 years. She has also served on the Board of the National Civil Rights Museum of Memphis.

Southwest President Nathan Essex is enthusiastic regarding the new center. He states, “It is going to be exciting. The center will provide a much needed service in the southeastern sector of our city, which is one of the fastest growing areas of Shelby County. It is a technology corridor. Our emphasis, in addition to a general education niche, will be a high-tech focus at the new center.”

The new center will be a three-story, 67,300-square-foot brick education building containing a library, eight computer classrooms, 21 new classrooms, an academic support space, a multipurpose classroom, chemistry, biology and science labs, a student lounge and gathering space along with administrative offices, and other mechanical and support spaces.

According to previous site study research, locating the Maxine A. Smith Center in this southeastern part of Shelby County, gives access to higher education for over several hundred thousand residents. It’s estimated the new center will be completed in the summer of 2009 at a project cost of $19.5 million.


Dr. Maxine A. Smith

Rendering of the Maxine A. Smith Center