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After 71 years, Fountainhead College of Technology is closing its doors.

The college, located at 3203 Tazewell Pike, will cease educational activities Oct. 31. Students were notified Tuesday night.

Fountainhead President and CEO Richard Rackley said Tuesday that free education offered by the state of Tennessee at other institutions is the major contributor to the small private college’s struggles in recent years.

“We are tremendously saddened by the necessary decision to close the college,” Rackley said. “We’ve considered it a privilege to serve our students and prepare them for jobs in technology.”

Rackley said Fountainhead is working to identify opportunities for currently enrolled students – about 50 total – to continue their education elsewhere, particularly at other local colleges. Students will have tuition refunded according to Fountainhead policies.

The college was founded in 1947 as Tennessee Radio Service School but changed to Tennessee Institute of Electronics the following year. Richard Rackley is second generation college president and has worked at the college since 1994. The college had several locations over the years before moving to Tazewell Pike in 1984. It became Fountainhead in 2003 and was one of 11 Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education as designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Besides Rackley, the school has 6 full-time and 5 part-time employees but had 40 full-time employees in 2011. 

Effective Oct. 31, the Tazewell Pike building will be locked. The 33,000-square-foot building, which includes a 285-seat auditorium, has been for sale since July. Contact for the college going forward will be by email at

Rackley said current students will have final transcripts printed and mailed to them after grades from the last classes are finalized. All students will have their transcripts permanently archived at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s website,

In addition, THEC’s website will have a page updating the college’s closure, he said. THEC’s Division of Postsecondary State Authorization can be reached at 615-741-5293.