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‘5x10s’ return during Old Oak premiering original dramatic works by Tusculum students

‘5x10s’ return during Old Oak premiering original dramatic works by Tusculum students

Posted on 13 April 2017 by

Maxwell Reed, Emma McCuiston and Micheal Emery rehearse a scene from “All Dogs Go to Hades,” one of the original dramatics works by Tusculum students to be featured during the “5x10” production during the 2017 Old Oak Festival on the Tusculum campus.

Theatre-at-Tusculum, in conjunction with the Tusculum English Department, will present the “5×10” plays beginning April 20 with an additional four performances during the annual Old Oak festival at Tusculum College.

The “5x10s” are a collection of five, ten minute plays written by Tusculum students and produced as part of the Acts, Arts, Academia Performance and Lecture Series. The collection of original dramatic works will premiere on Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m. and will run as part of the annual Old Oak Festival.

The annual festival hosted by Tusculum promotes a wide array of art and music from the region, and the “5x10s” offer Tusculum student playwrights the opportunity to see their dramatic works brought to the stage as part of the festival’s offerings. Show times during festival will be 7 p.m. on Friday, April 21; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 23.

All the performances will take place in the Behan Arena Theatre in the lower level of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts building on the Tusculum campus.

Paige Mengel and Larry Bunten practice as scene from "Damage Control."

Two of the plays to be featured, “Walking In The Light” and “Damage Control,” were written by Tusculum senior Macy French. Both are directed by Frank Mengel, technical director of Tusculum Arts Outreach. French was recently awarded the 2017 Curtis and Billie Owens Literary Award for Drama for “Walking In The Light.”

Also to be featured is “Here, Kitty Kitty,” by Tusculum junior Parker Wright. The play will be directed by Wayne Thomas, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tusculum.

The work of another Owens Literary Award winner will be staged – “It’s Only Plastic,” by Tusculum senior Emily Waryck. She was the 2017 Owens Literary Award recipient in the poetry, fiction and nonfiction categories. “It’s Only Plastic,” will be directed by Brian Ricker, assistant director of Tusculum Arts Outreach.

River Donnelly and Rebekah Voiles are part of the cast of "Here, Kitty Kitty."

Freshman River Donnelly is finishing his first year at Tusculum with a highlight as his “All Dogs Go to Hades” was chosen to be staged at Old Oak. Ricker is also directing this play.

Audiences are cautioned when considering bringing children to the production due to adult themes and some mild language. The show is recommended for ages 13 and up, with parental guidance advised.

Bringing the original works to life will be a total cast of 12 including Tusculum students River Donnelly, Johnny Durr, Micheal Emery, Emma McCuiston, Katie Odoms, Carrie Rose, Maxwell Reed and Rebekah Voiles. Tusculum alumna Paige Mengel, local actor Larry Bunton, and North Greene High School freshman Gracie Weems round out the cast for the plays.

Production assistance has been given by the Arts Outreach team of Costume Director Barbara Holt, Arts Outreach Director and Artist-in-Residence Marilyn duBrisk, and Arts Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Hollowell.

“This is a true collaboration of the arts here at Tusculum,” Ricker said. “The students’ writings, the visual art components of the production, the acting process, it all is a perfect fit for the Old Oak Festival.”

Katie Odoms, Carrie Rose and Paige Mengel practice "It's Only Some Plastic."

The idea for the“5×10” production was originally conceived a few years ago by Thomas when he was chair of the Fine Arts Department in an effort to “promote interdisciplinary co-curricular engagement amongst various fine arts entities.” With the help of Mengel, the first “5×10” production premiered during the 2013 Old Oak Festival.

General admission is $7, and tickets can be purchased at the box office, which opens one hour prior to show time. Tickets may be reserved by calling 423-798-1620 or by e-mail at Tickets may be purchased with cash or check only, no credit or debit cards.





Carrie Rose and Emma McCuiston practice "Walking in the Light."

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Old Oak Festival to feature wide variety of musical performances

Old Oak Festival to feature wide variety of musical performances

Posted on 03 April 2017 by

Jazz, country, gospel, bluegrass and rock and roll are a few of the musical stylings that will be featured at the 2017 Old Oak Festival planned April 21-23 on the campus of Tusculum.

Featuring a wide variety of music and food and fun, the Old Oak Festival will span across three days, featuring something for everyone, be it live music, theater, arts and crafts or fabulous festival food.

“We are very excited about the wide variety of performers that we have committed to this year’s festival,” said David Price, director of music and band programs at Tusculum and coordinator of the festival.

“This year’s musical acts offer something for everyone and show off amazing artistic talent from folks in our region and beyond.”

While the list of musical performers is not complete, currently several bands have announced plans to perform and include the Brother Boys, My New Favorites, Shiloh, Ashley Bean, Sigean, the Dread Scots, Poplar Hill Reunion, the Tusculum Jazz Band, the Tusculum Marching Band, the Tusculum Concert Band, the Tusculum Handbell Choir and the Bluegrass Outlaws.

There will also be jam sessions during the festival and visitors are encouraged to bring their instrument and join for a weekend of fun with other musicians.

In addition to music, workshops for high school students will be held on Friday and include sessions on the Math and Science of Tree Identification, Contemporary Poetry, Instrumental Master Class (Band), Vocal Master Class, Introduction to Programming with Python, Drawing, the Brief Essay or Prose Poem, Medieval Siege Warfare, Songwriting, Playwriting, Political Jeopardy, Flash Fiction, SM-Art! Sensational Mathematical Art, as well as Animation, Abel Brown, as well as Shimmy and the Burns.

Workshops are presented by faculty of Tusculum and other experts in the field.

There is no charge for students to participate in the workshop sessions and lunch will be provided.  Students need to register by Wednesday, April 12. To reserve a spot, contact Kelsey Trom, assistant professor of English at or (423) 636-7420 ext. 5420.

The Museums of Tusculum College will be hosting the Old Oak’s second annual LEGO contest, “LEGO® Historians!” Participants, using their own LEGO® or other compatible plastic bricks, design and build a unique creation (not from a designed kit) based on any historical topic. Registration is open now. Deliver completed projects to the Doak House Museum, 690 Erwin Highway, Greeneville 37745. Projects may be dropped off from April 17-20, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The museums will also operate a Family Photo Preservation Station during the Old Oak Festival. The public is invited to bring up to 20 family photographs or 20 pages of family documents (letters, certificates, etc.) for digital scanning and preservation. Documents or photos will be scanned and saved to a writable CD which we will provide, or bring a personal thumb drive. Participants will also receive a handy guide to caring for their family heirlooms according to best archival & museum standards. RSVP to or 4123-636-8554 to sign up for an appointment time.

Other special events planned for this year’s festival include an art show at Allison Gallery, student theater productions and literary readings.

New this year will be archery tag, sponsored by the Tusculum Office of Student Affairs. Archery tag is played similar to dodgeball with our bows and patented foam-tipped arrows. This exciting, action-packed game offers the ultimate family-friendly experience that engages everyone.

There is no fee to attend the festival. Art vendor hours will be Friday from noon until 6 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Entertainment and food continues into the evening, with the final performers ending at 10 p.m.

Service animals are welcome; however, no pets allowed. Coolers, firearms and alcohol are also prohibited on the Tusculum campus property during the festival. Lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged.

The event is being sponsored by the Old Oak Tap Room, Artistic Printers, The Greeneville Sun and Radio Greeneville.

For updates and more information, visit the website at or on facebook. For more information on registering as a vendor or performer or volunteering at the festival, contact Price at 423-636-7303.


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The Malpass Brothers to bring their traditional country sound to the stage March 16 at Tusculum

The Malpass Brothers to bring their traditional country sound to the stage March 16 at Tusculum

Posted on 03 March 2017 by

The Malpass Brothers will bring their brand of traditional country music to the stage at Tusculum College on Thursday, March 16. The performance will begin at 7 p.m. in the Annie Hogan Byrd Auditorium on campus. (Photos © Chris Charles)

Traditional country music up-and-comers, the Malpass Brothers, will bring their unique sound to the stage at Tusculum College on Thursday, March 16.

The siblings and their band will perform at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building on the Tusculum campus. The concert is part of Tusculum Arts Outreach’s Acts, Arts, Academia 2016-17 performance and lecture series.

“These guys just don’t just sound retro, they are retro,” has been said of the Malpass Brothers, and it is an apt description of siblings Christopher and Taylor.  As youngsters, the brothers soaked up the music of their grandfather’s record collection, and today they promote the music of the classic country artists they treasure while writing new songs and making their own mark in the lineage of a rich American cultural heritage.

With sincerity, honesty and an utter ease on stage beyond their years, the brothers’ smooth vocal blend and talented musicianship reflect their respect of the legends who have paved the way, such as the Louvin Brothers, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins and Hank Williams, Sr. Add some good-humored quips between the siblings, and the Malpass Brothers take their audiences on a fun and engaging time-traveling musical journey.

“My brother Taylor and I do the type of music we do because this music speaks to us, and speaks to the souls of its listeners,” says Christopher Malpass. “For us, traditional country music is the ‘real deal’ – every song portrays life’s joys, heartaches, problems and happiness. It comes from the heart, and has depth and truth. Nothing is sugar coated. Our goal, really, is to see this music be revived, to help ensure it doesn’t fade away. It is so encouraging to have young people come to our shows with a new interest in our ‘old music.’ Being able to introduce what we love to another generation feels like a great accomplishment for us. We want this music to be around for our children’s children.”

The Malpass Brothers have toured with the late Don Helms, who was the former steel guitarist for Hank Williams. The siblings opened for the legendary Merle Haggard on multiple tours and appeared on stages from the Ryman Auditorium to Merlefest to “Larry’s Country Diner” television program.

Their video for “Memory That Bad” made CMT Pure Country’s Top Ten, and their most recent recording, the self-titled “Malpass Brothers” was produced by bluegrass legend Doyle Lawson. The brothers are also the focus of a film now in production showcasing a performance and their lives in their hometown of Goldsboro, N.C.

Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 60 and over and $5 for children 12 years of age and under. For more information or to reserve tickets, please call 423-798-1620 or email



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Discussion continues about a new approach to the academic study of Jesus’ life during lecture series

Discussion continues about a new approach to the academic study of Jesus’ life during lecture series

Posted on 23 February 2017 by

The discussion of a new approach to the academic study of the gospels continued during the third session of the Theologian-in-Residence lecture series at Tusculum College, which is being led by Dr. Travis Williams.

Exploration of a different approach to the academic study of the life of Jesus continued on Tuesday during the third session of the Theologian-in-Residence lecture series at Tusculum College.

The topic of this year’s series is “Jesus in Early Christian Memory: Remember, Reconstructing and Rehearsing the Past.” Dr. Travis Williams, associate professor of religion at Tusculum, is the featured speaker of the series, which is sponsored by the college with support from Ron Smith.

In the second session of the series, Dr. Williams had introduced an approach to the scholarly study of Jesus’ life that incorporates recent research on memory and a variety of academic disciplines. As a historian, he said, studying the Bible through the lens of such disciplines as sociology and literature is not an attempt to downplay the text, but rather an effort to ascribe value to the Scriptures.

“As a valuable book, we want to bring all the approaches we can to study it,” he said. “We want to bring these disciplines to bear on the text to better understand it because it is important.” Theologians can then take this academic research and determine what it means on a spiritual level, he added.

This approach using a variety of academic disciplines and memory research is in contrast to the approach that has been used by a majority of scholars in their study of the gospels, which has sought to discover the “historic Jesus” by trying to peel away layers of interpretation and tradition to find the factual Jesus.

Building on his previous presentation that noted recent research into the memory process, Dr. Williams explored other aspects of memory that have been the subject of recent academic study – the impact of social environment on memory and eyewitness testimony.

As recent research has found, when an individual remembers an experience or event, it is not the process of retrieving the memory as from a filing cabinet as was previously thought, he noted, but the brain reconstructs the memory from various areas of the brain and this reconstruction is distorted by nature as it is influenced by a person’s current circumstances

In addition to being influenced by the present, an individual’s memories are influenced by his or her social group and environment. The trailblazer in research into the social dimension of memory was French scholar Maurice Halbwachs, who theorized that people’s recollections of the past are based on social environment. These include a person’s current circumstances, group affiliations, cultural environment and prior traditions.

Dr. Williams also discussed eyewitness testimony and recent research that has found people’s recollections can be malleable, influenced by such things as an individual’s bias or the passage of time.

Most scholars do not believe that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses or those who may have heard stories first-hand from eyewitnesses. “Historians look at plausibility in history,” he said, “and most scholars agree that the gospel authors most likely were not eyewitnesses, but this does not mean that the gospels are not based on eyewitness testimony.”

Looking through the perspective of social memory can bring a better understanding of Jesus by looking at how the circumstances of the later Christians who preserved the Jesus tradition may have impacted which memories were preserved and how he was remembered, Dr. Williams continued.

Reconstruction of memories does have constraints, he said, as the present does have an influence by memory is rooted in the past.

While historians cannot recreate the past or test it like a scientist, they can look at the imprint of the past, what is plausible, as they study the gospels, he noted, adding that is why historians are cautious in saying what they think Jesus is like.

The first step in this process would be to look at the circumstances of those who were transmitting the memories, look at how the memory process itself could have affected the recollections and then study the social context of those individual and how that could affect their perception of what they saw.

For example, he said, the question of the literacy of Jesus is a topic of debate. While some have debated this on theological grounds, others have debated the answer looking at historic evidence.

In looking at the context of the time, recent research has found that literacy was rare in the Palestine region during the time of Jesus (around three percent of the population), he said, and early Christianity was criticized for its uneducated leaders.

The memory process allows both representations of Jesus as either literate or illiterate to occur, Dr. Williams continued.  “In both cases, we have to explain the evidence as best we can,” he said. “The memory approach is an attempt to value the gospels. Instead of treating the stories found in the gospels as reciprocal parts of the real Jesus, the memory approach says all text is valuable. It is grounded in explaining sources instead of choosing between them for authenticity. What did the historical Jesus have to do to get them to remember him this way?”

In the concluding session of the series on Tuesday, Feb. 28, Dr. Williams’ focus will be the transmission of oral tradition within early Christian communities with particular attention given to the malleability and persistence of the Jesus tradition as it passed between people. The lecture will begin at 10 a.m. in the Chalmers Conference Center in the Niswonger Commons on the Tusculum College campus. Reservations are requested. Please call 423-636-7304 to make a reservation or email

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Second Theologian-in-Residence session explores new method for scholastic study of the gospels

Second Theologian-in-Residence session explores new method for scholastic study of the gospels

Posted on 16 February 2017 by

Dr. Travis Williams explored recent memory research and how it provides parameters for a different scholastic method for study of the gospels during the second session of the annual Theologian-in-Residence lecture series.

Insights from recent research into the memory process and how they can be used in the scholastic approach to discover the “historic Jesus” were explored Tuesday during the second session of the Theologian-in-Residence series at Tusculum College.

“Jesus in Early Christian Memory: Remember, Reconstructing and Rehearsing the Past,” is the focus of this year’s series, being presented by Dr. Travis Williams, assistant professor of religion at Tusculum College. In its 26th year, the series is sponsored by Tusculum College with support from Ron Smith.

Critics of the authenticity of the gospels and the apologists who defend the factual nature of the gospels agree that there has been some distortion of the gospels in their transmission, but how much distortion is the issue that divides the two groups, according to Dr. Williams.

“The foundation of the majority of the scholarly research on the historic Jesus has been based on the assumption that something has been changed,” he said. “The goal is to separate the factual material from the layers of interpretation to find the raw fact.”

As an example of recent academic research, Dr. Williams noted the work of the Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars that began meeting in the 1980s and became well known in the 1990s with the goal of trying to determine which sayings and deeds of Jesus recorded in the gospels are authentic and making this general public aware of these scholarly studies.

The problem with the Jesus Seminar and the majority of other recent academic research into the historic Jesus is the method used in the effort to find the factual Jesus, Dr. Williams said.

“I would suggest that their scholarly search for the factual Jesus is misguided,” he continued. “If they are searching for authentic memories of Jesus, undiluted memories without any layers of interpretation, I would argue that they are going to be searching in vain. Those memories don’t exist.”

In the older view of memory, the brain is seen as storing memories in a singular place, analogous to a filing cabinet, he explained, with memory as a passive intellectual recall of factual details from the past. If this idea is applied to the Jesus stories, it would be that the disciples would have filed their memories of Jesus away and then recalled them as they told others.

However, Dr. Williams said, recent research into the memory process has shown that memory is by its nature distorted. This research has shown that the storage and retrieval of memories is a complex process in which an individual must reconstruct a memory from various sensory areas of the brain and is altered each time a person remembers as the memory is perceived in relation to a person’s current circumstances.

These insights into memory help provide two benefits in the scholarly analysis of the Jesus stories, he continued.

One is that it helps people avoid simplistic debates about the authenticity of memory in the gospels. “If distortion of memories of Jesus is the criteria that is used, then nothing qualifies as authentic, because no memory provides an uninterpreted view of the past,” Dr. Williams said. “If there are no undistorted memories, the foundation for both sides falls apart.”

While distortion has a negative connotation, there are positive benefits to distortion, he said.

Telescopes use a distortion of light to allow people to see planets, stars and other heavenly bodies that cannot be seen with a naked eye. Likewise, memories help people reconstruct a past that cannot be physically revisited, Dr. Williams explained, because memory distorts the distance between the present and the past and allows people to see what would otherwise be unrecoverable.

Secondly, distortion provides new ways to understand the variability of memories, Dr. Williams said, in relation to memory’s adaptive function to provide guidance in how to react in new situations.

“The early Christians were comfortable with the variations in the Jesus stories,” Dr. Williams said, giving as an example the debate amongst early Christians of whether the Jewish law should be observed or not, which is recounted in the book of Acts and Paul’s letters to the early church. This debate took place prior to the writing of the gospels, and a passage from Mark is written in such a way to support the view that the Jewish law should not have to be observed by Christians while that wording is not found in Matthew’s gospel, which most scholars agree is targeted toward a Jewish audience.

However, once the written form of the gospels replaced the oral form, much of this adaptive function was lost as the memory of Jesus became cemented in permanent forms,  he said.

In the next session of the series on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Dr. Williams will continue the exploration of this new approach to the Jesus stories with a discussion of another facet of memory, the impact of social environment on the construction of memories. The session will include an examination of the role of eyewitnesses in the formation and dissemination of the early Jesus tradition. The lecture will begin at 10 a.m. in the Chalmers Conference Center in the Niswonger Commons on the Tusculum College campus. Reservations are requested. Please call 423-636-7304 to make a reservation or email

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Disney’s ‘My Son Pinocchio, JR’ opens Friday

Disney’s ‘My Son Pinocchio, JR’ opens Friday

Posted on 15 February 2017 by

Professore Buonragazzo (Carter DelSorbo) welcomes Geppetto (Parker Bunch) to the land of Idyllia where he has developed a machine to make ‘the perfect children’ in this scene from the play.

More than 30 of the area’s finest young performers will fill the stage to present Disney’s “My Son Pinocchio, JR” during the last two weekends of February at Tusculum College.

Theatre-at-Tusculum and Actors Coming Together will present the musical in the Behan Arena Theatre in the lower level (side entrance) of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building on the Tusculum College campus. Show times are 7 p.m. on Feb. 17-18, 23-25 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 19 and 26.

“My Son Pinocchio, JR” is based in part on the classic Walt Disney animated feature film “Pinocchio.” It is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International and is part of the Broadway Junior Collection. The musical includes the songs “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “I’ve Got No Strings” by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington from the animated film.

However, unlike the animated film, the stage production is told from the perspective of Geppetto rather than Pinocchio, similar to the 2000 Disney live-action television movie “Geppetto,” which featured Drew Carey. The musical includes music and lyrics by award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz (Broadway’s “Wicked” and Disney’s “Pocahontas,” “The Prince of Egypt” and “Enchanted”) and book by David Stern.

Under the direction of Marilyn duBrisk and Assistant Director Brian Ricker, the all youth cast consists of an assortment of first-time and veteran actors. Griffin Gricunas, a fourth grader at Hal Henard Elementary School, will be making his Tusculum stage debut as the title character, Pinocchio. Gricunas will play alongside local favorite Parker Bunch who portrays Geppetto, the lonely toymaker who longs for a son. Another Bunch is helping lead the cast, as Parker’s younger sister, Reagan Bunch takes on the role of the wish-granting Blue Fairy.

The show is truly a family affair with six sets of brothers and sisters featured in the cast, and even a set of cousins. The junior fairies will be played by Tusculum View fifth grader, Emma Waddell, sisters Jade Ward and Jorja Ward, both fourth graders at Hal Henard Elementary, and Anna Woods, a fourth grader at Providence Academy in Johnson City.

The Fairies in training perform “When You Wish Upon A Star” and celebrate The Blue Fairy’s record of 100 wishes granted…or so they think. From left are Viola (Jade Ward), The Blue Fairy (Reagan Bunch), Rosa (Anna Woods) and Arancia (Emma Waddell). (Photos courtesy of Carrie Tucker)

Other cast members include Greeneville High School senior Grayson Reed as the wicked Puppet Master Stromboli with his dancing marionettes played by EastView fifth grader Leah Beddingfield and Doak Elementary fourth grader Carter Copeland. Tusculum College students Carter DelSorbo of Greeneville and Emma McCuiston of Chattanooga will play Professore Buonragazzo and the Pleasure Island Ringleader respectively.

The rest of the cast members play multiple roles throughout the show. They include Doak Elementary students Aliah Campbell and Aden Moore; EastView Elementary students Trey Bailey, Elliott Tucker and Zach Wallin; Greeneville Middle School students Jackson Beddingfield, Mylee Doty, Maya Gricunas, Maggie Hartman, Claire Hoeke, Carissa Hopson, Lexi Humbert, Amora Klepper, Caedmon Oakes, Allie Shelto, and Todd Wallin; Hal Henard Elementary students Grace Lampe and Jack Lampe; Tusculum View second grader Lily Broyles, as well as GHS freshman Angel Klepper, West Greene High School freshman Elijah Collins and Emmaline Neas, a sophomore from Parrotsville.

The production staff includes Angie Clendenon, music director; Kasie Shelnutt, accompanist; Kim Berry, choreographer; Frank Mengel and Garry Renfro, light and set design; Barbara Holt, costume director; Suzanne Greene, stage manager; Trenda Berney, make-up director, and Jennifer Hollowell, box office manager.

Tickets to the musical are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 60 and over, and $5 for children 12 and under.  To reserve tickets, please call 423-798-1620 or email


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Past scholarly approaches to ‘historical’ Jesus explored in first Theologian lecture

Past scholarly approaches to ‘historical’ Jesus explored in first Theologian lecture

Posted on 08 February 2017 by

Dr. Travis Williams speaks during the first session of the annual Theologian-in-Residence series on Tuesday at Tusculum College.

The various ways that scholars have approached the gospels and their search for the “historical Jesus” were explored Tuesday during the first session of the annual Theologian-in-Residence lecture series.

Dr. Travis Williams, assistant professor of religion at Tusculum College, is presenting the series of lectures, “Jesus in Early Christian Memory: Remembering, Reconstructing and Rehearsing the Past.”  In its 26th year, the series is sponsored by Tusculum College with support from Ron Smith.

During the first session, Dr. Williams summarized beliefs about the Gospels and its accounts of Jesus during recent centuries and scholars “historical quests” for Jesus and the approaches they have taken in their studies.

“What I would suggest in this series is that there is an alternate approach, which applies insights from memory studies to the early traditions about Jesus,” he said.  “In this series, we are not going to focus on whether the gospels are authentic, but rather on this alternate approach to the gospels, a way to read the gospels better.”

Questions of how closely the Gospels reflect what actually occurred in the life of Jesus have divided Biblical scholarship for many years. However, Dr. Williams noted, both skeptics and apologists believe that the validity of the gospels is grounded in the accuracy of their transmission and the historical events they record.

Up until the time of the Enlightenment, this was not an issue as Christians considered the spiritual claims in the Biblical to be more important than the historical details and did not separate the two, he explained.

However, after the Enlightenment when reasoning was considered the ultimate source of authority, many scholars began to take a historical approach toward the gospels using critical methodologies of modern scholarship.  These scholars questioned whether the spiritual claims in the Bible are true if the historical details are inaccurate, Dr. Williams noted.

As a result, there have been a series of academic searches for the historic Jesus. During the first quest, which began around 1778, scholars were skeptical of the Jesus presented in the gospels and asserted that a search must be made beyond the gospels to find the true personage of Jesus. “Scholars thought that the Christ of faith was different than the Jesus of history,” he said. “They argued that the historical Jesus was concealed in multiple layers added by church tradition and dogma.”

One of the first books questioning how Jesus was portrayed argued that Jesus was a political figure rather than a spiritual figure and was espousing the overthrow of the Roman government.

As one would expect, Dr. Williams said, there were many repercussions to the publishing of the work. Two major groups formed in regards to how the gospels were viewed. One group, the supernaturalists, asserted that the gospels recorded events that actually happened in history even though some are of a supernatural character. These were opposed to the rationalists who argued that the gospels recounted natural, historic events that were misperceived or misinterpreted, and thus described as miraculous.

Then came the influential work of Strauss, who proposed a middle way, introducing the category of myth, which set up a new paradigm for looking at Jesus. Strauss described the gospels as a history-like story whose purpose is to convey a religious truth that is important rather than a record of historical events, he said.

The first quest was brought to an end by the publishing of a book by Albert Schweitzer in 1906, which pointed out that how Jesus’ life was described was a reflection of the ideology of the scholars who wrote them.

This began a period that lasted until 1953 in which most scholars were of the opinion that nothing concrete could be known about the historic Jesus and the focus should turn to the Christ of faith, Dr. Williams explained

However, in 1953, there were some scholars who began to argue there were some things that could be known about the historical Jesus – that a clearer picture could be obtained of Jesus if the distortions of later Christian interpretation could be cleaned away.

Thus began the second quest for Jesus, from 1953 through the 1980s. A first step in their efforts was the creation of a list of indisputable facts about Jesus, as well as a method for judging the authenticity of the gospel stories as ways to try to peel back the layers that have been added through tradition.

These efforts have led to the third quest, which is still in progress. Scholars now are espousing the study of Jesus in the Jewish cultural background of the time, Dr. Williams explained, and are using new methods to look at Jesus, drawing from other fields of study to adopt new approaches.

Scholars are using social-scientific approaches to look at the culture of the time and are using literary criticism to analyze Biblical narratives, and new source materials are helping build the picture of life in Jesus’ time such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the apocryphal gospels and archeological finds.

Dr. Williams will begin looking at one of these new approaches in the next session on Tuesday, Feb. 14, as he discusses the various process involved in the cognitive formation of memory and the different ways that distortion would have shaped memories of Jesus. The lecture will begin at 10 a.m. in the Chalmers Conference Center in the Niswonger Commons on the Tusculum College campus. Reservations are requested. Please call 423-636-7304 to make a reservation or email

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‘Sleeping Beauty: True Love’s Kiss’ to be presented Jan. 27-29 in AHB Auditorium

‘Sleeping Beauty: True Love’s Kiss’ to be presented Jan. 27-29 in AHB Auditorium

Posted on 17 January 2017 by

King Maldoer (Dillon Davis) and Maleficent (Sophia Sparks) rehearse a scene from “Sleeping Beauty: True Love’s Kiss,” the upcoming production by Central Ballet Theatre of Greeneville.

Central Ballet Theatre of Greeneville will bring the timeless tale of Sleeping Beauty to the stage Jan. 27-29 in a multi-faceted production.

Four performances of “Sleeping Beauty: True Love’s Kiss” are scheduled for the last weekend in January in the auditorium of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building on the Tusculum College campus. The ballet will be performed at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27; at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29. The production is a part of Tusculum College Arts Outreach’s 2016-17 Acts, Arts, Academia performance and lecture series.

“Sleeping Beauty” continues Central Ballet’s tradition of presenting a multi-dimensional production and will feature majestic sets and backdrops, dynamic lighting and technical surprises brought together through classical and contemporary choreography to tell stories with emotional and spiritual depth. This year’s production will feature choreography that is much more contemporary in style to match the intense dance scenes found while also including the always popular pointe work and classical ballet.

A story of destruction wrought by bitterness and guilt and the overcoming power of forgiveness are the heart of “Sleeping Beauty.” Similar to the recent movie, “Maleficent,” Central Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty” brings audiences into the world  of evil fairy, Maleficent, and helps them understand the anger and bitterness that leads her to curse the innocent baby Princess Aurora. The story follows what happens as Maleficent follows the growth of the princess and changes begin to happen in the heart of the maligned fairy, and a young Prince arrives on the scene, falling in love with the sweet princess.

Professional dancers Dillon Davis and Dante Adela join the local performers in the Central Ballet company for this production. In his third Central Ballet production, Davis will dance the role of King Maldoer. A member of Chattanooga Ballet, Dillon started his professional career as a trainee at Alabama Ballet under the direction of Wes Chapman. After completing his training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Dillon performed professionally with Nashville Ballet and Dance Theater of Tennessee. While with Dance Theater of Tennessee, he had the opportunity to work with world renowned choreographers Ma Cong, Darrell Grand-Moultrie and Ron De Jesus of Hubbard Street.

Adela returns to Central Ballet stage as the Raven in “Sleeping Beauty.”  Adeala just completed touring for four years as Yao, the lead in Cirque du Soleil’s “Dralion.” Adela trained in dance at North Carolina School of the Arts and Lou Conte Dance Studio in Chicago then went on to dance in several professional companies including Orlando Ballet and Cedar Lake Ensemble. In past seasons with Central Ballet Theatre, Adela has danced Trumpkin in “Prince Caspian” and Pharoah’s son in “Exodus.”

Aurora will be danced by Meg Butler, a student at Greeneville High School, while Queen Oscilla will be portrayed by Katie Kricko, also a student at Greeneville High. Sophia Sparks, a performer from Greeneville will portray “Maleficent.” Two interesting characters added to the ballet’s storyline are Neene (the giver of evil) played by Elizabeth Bosse of Dandridge and Nahal (the good angel) played by Hallie Frank, a student at Chuckey-Doak High School.

A special addition to this version of “Sleeping Beauty” is speaking during the actual scenes versus a live narrator. CBT held two auditions this year: a dance audition and a voice audition. The voice for each character has its own actor, similar to characters in animated films. “We are quite pleased with the quality of our character portrayals through voice,” said Lori Ann Sparks, artistic director of Central Ballet Theatre. “It is an exciting new feature for our ballets!”

Central Ballet’s productions are the result of countless hours of a number of volunteers sharing their time and expertise. The process of writing the script, choosing music, preparing choreography, setting the scenes on the dancers, rehearsing, and topping the ballet off with local artists designing, building, and decorating sets, costuming, and technical preparations takes ten months and requires approximately 150 volunteer production hours per minute of the show.

“We have an amazing group of enthusiastic helpers who work together sharing ideas, building sets, designing and sewing special costumes, painting, moving dance floors, and construction whatever is needed,” said Blair Berry, secretary of Central Ballet. “We are blessed with a wonderful family of volunteers.”

In addition to its yearly ballet production, Central Ballet Theatre strives to offer outreach to the community. The company performs for nursing homes and gives classes to the Boys and Girls’ Club in Greeneville. “We are grateful for the support of our local and regional contributions from both the private and public sector which helps us afford these performances and give back to the community,” said Parke Brumit, president of Central Ballet.

Tickets for the ballet may be purchased at the General Morgan Inn, The Catalyst Coffee Company, Esther & Ella Boutique, Appalachian Chiropractic Center, from local dancers, or by calling 423-724-7014. Tickets may also be purchased at the door. Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for students and seniors ages 60 and up.

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Fall 2016 Dean’s List announced

Fall 2016 Dean’s List announced

Posted on 13 January 2017 by

The Tusculum College academic honors lists have been announced for the fall 2016 semester recognizing undergraduate students for their academic achievements.

Tusculum recognizes its students for academic achievements through three academic honors lists – the Dean’s List, the President’s List and the Charles Oliver Gray Scholars List.

The Dean’s List includes full-time students who have earned a 3.5 grade point average or higher during a semester. Students must complete 12 or more hours for the semester term to be included on the Dean’s List.

The President’s List includes those students who have earned a 4.0 grade point average during the semester while taking at least 12 or more hours for the term. These students are also included on the Dean’s List.

The Charles Oliver Gray Scholars List recognizes students who have been named to the Dean’s List for two or more consecutive semesters.

Below are the listings for the the fall2016 Dean’s List that includes both  the Traditional (residential) program and the Graduate and Professional Studies program for working adults. Students named to the President’s List are denoted with an *. Those who are listed on the Charles Oliver Gray Scholars List are noted with a +.

2016 Fall Dean’s List

Dennis Mensah Acquah +

Kristopher Scott Adams

Caleb Alder

Dax Aleman

Brandon Lee Alexander *

Jennifer Rene Alfter *+

Brandon Keith Allen *+

Makenzi Lynn Alley *+

Evan R Altizer +

Ivan Andabak *

Robert Alexander Anderson

Katja Sabina Elisabeth Andersson *+

Hannah Beth Arnett +

Cheyene Leigh Arnold *+

Eleonora Surenovna Assadova +

Amy Jeanette Atchley +

Kristen Machel Atwell

Anthony Maurice Bagwell +

David Murphy Baker

Sarah Ann Baker +

Brandon L Ball

Sonja Ballmert

Crystal Annette Banken

Joshua Jay Barnett

Mindy Michelle Barton +

Joshua V Batson +

Taylor Alexandria N. Battle +

Robert Tyson Beach

McKenzie Beavers +

Cheyenne Nicole Beeler *+

Dabresha Necole Bell

Keegan Michael William Bell

Timothy Christian Bell

Bryant Benitez

Brian James Bennett

Hannah Marie Berling *+

Christopher Lee Berney

Kyle Christopher Bittner +

Sheila D Blair *+

Christina Michelle Blevins *

Courtney Elaine Booth

Dalton Thomas Boslooper

Brittany Paige Bowers

Casey Elizabeth Bradley +

Mindy Dawn Bradley +

Jule Brass +

Danielle Marie Breen

Alexander Neil Briggs +

Brittany Starr Bright

Daniel Clifford Britton

Autumn May Brooks

Brittani Allyn Brooks *

Bobbi Jean Brown *

David Bryan Brown +

Kaitlin Brooke Brown +

Shannon Kay Brown *+

William Gary Brown

Jonathan Wayne Bryant +

Victoria Jacqueline Bryant +

Kevin W Buckner +

Megan Lorraine Buczek +

Timothy Adam Bumgarner

Lara Gail Burchfield +

Judith Cahansa Butler

Lindsay Ann Butler *+

Mason Ray Calhoun +

Melissa Kay Callahan *+

Billy Carroll Calwell +

Brianna Richelle Campbell

Gary Lee Capps

Jessie Leonard Carey *+

Erin Helene Carmody +

Cathryn Carol Carpenter +

Laura Kaye Carr *+

Aleigha Ruth Carroll

Elizabeth Anne Carroll

Michelle Carver +

Callie S. Casteel +

Cayla Brooke Cecil *

Katelynne Ruth Cheatham

Matthew Keith Church +

Savannah Hope Clabough *+

Debra Nicole Clack +

Alyssa M. Clifton *

Tiffany Rose Cockrum

Dawn Trista Cody +

Mandy LaChelle Colburn +

Katie Lee Cole +

Chelsea Breanne Collins

Riley Edward Collins +

Robert Earl Colquitt +

Sarah D. Combs +

Dustin Daniel Conway +

Amber Lawson Cooper *+

Jeremy Brent Cooper *+

Heather Natasha Cope

Justin Ross Cornett +

Charles Harvey Cottrell +

Jacob William Countiss +

Molly Elizabeth Cowart +

Polly Louise Cowart +

Paige Arnelle Cowden

Chester Craig *

Christen Janay Craig +

Hannah E. Crespo +

Joshua Chase Cress

Heather Renee Crouch +

Bailey Alexandria Culler +

Craig Matthew Cutler +

Jacob Ryan Cutshall *

Tiarra Rain Dailey

Miranda Brooke Dalton *

Gabriel James Dando *+

Dianna Kay Daniels *

Anna Nicole Daugherty

Alexandra Nicole Davis +

Destiny Sierra Davis

Eliza Lucille Davis +

Emily K Davis

Henry Reed Whitaker Davis

Rebecca Lee Davis +

Andre Alvaro Moreira De Giorgi +

Emily Marie De La Cruz +

Jessica Susan Deaton +

Payton Alexandra Dehart +

Carter Andrew Delsorbo

Kayli Ashton Dempster *

Kyleigh Cierra Denson

Stephanie Nicole Nikki Dirmeyer

Abby Lee Ann Dohrman *

Kelly Chase Donnelly +

River Sam Ash Donnelly *

Keaton Thomas Dotson

Gilbert Charles Downey +

Savanna Nicole Draper

Jessica L. Drinnon +

Kelly Breann Ducote

Jennifer Duff *+

Deidra Michelle Dunlap +

James Dallas Dunn

Garrett Scott Dupuis

John Eric Durr *+

Janice Lyn Dutcher

Tabitha Ann Dyer +

Blaine Leroy Dykes

Joel Cooper Edgar

Michael Jason Eggert +

Deidre Michelle Elkins

Savannah Elliott +

Melissa Jeannette Emerson +

Joseph Hall Exum

Kasey Blake Fawbush +

Kristoffer Mykell Fernandez +

Brittany Leigh Finucane +

Lia Theresa Fiore +

Elizabeth Cheyanne Fisher

Karli Payten Fisher +

Scott Allan Fisher *+

Camilo Florez *

Harper Nicole Ford +

Richard Forsythe *

Tesa Lashae Fox

Kelsey Lynae Freeman +

Macy Amanda French *+

Jennifer Michelle Frost +

Jordan D’Ann Fullerton *+

Amy Fullington *

Franziska Funke +

Kimberly Kay Gipfert

Emily Ann Gleason

Jill Edith Goodpasture +

Hannah Marie Graham +

Shelby Anne Gray +

Ashley Elizabeth Greer

Kimberly Grace Gregg +

Kelsey Griffith +

Brittany Danielle Grizzle +

Matthew David Groover

Holly Brooke Hall +

Justin Tyler Hamilton +

Edward Oliver Moore Hancock +

Jonnathan Handshoe

Lisa Denise Hannah *+

Zachary Lee Hartle +

Kazuhiko Hashiyama

Mamie Britt Hassell +

Michael James Haycox +

Christie Michelle Hayes +

Jonathan Hayes *+

Tanya Marie Hayes +

Rachael Bethany Hensley *+

Emily Elizabeth Hester +

Mason Bradley Hewitt

Ruth Ann Hickman +

Gregory Ward Hilemon *+

Jenny Rebecca Hill +

Gina C Hobson

Ernest Tyler Hockett

Amy Marie Hodge +

Caleb Jordan Hodnett

Rachel E. Holden

Malek Pierce Holman

Ronnie James Holt +

Sayre Catherine Hopper +

Michelle Leigh Hoskins-Slaven

Chilae Antonette Houston +

Brittany K Hoyle

Tina Louise Hubbard *

Ryan Wesley Hudson +

Velvet Dawn Hughes +

Gregory Mitchell Hurd

Maleah Linda Huskey +

Deanna Lynn Hutcheson +

Christopher Davis Hutson

Blair Idol *

Jessica Kay Inscore

Emily Iorga *

James Michael Malis Irwin

Charlotte Nicole Jackson *+

Lindsay Erin Jackson

Katie Elizabeth James +

Michael Gale Jarnagin *

Rebecca Michelle Jenkins *+

Jeffrey Adam Jennings +

Katelyn Jasanna Jennings *+

Brandon Kenneth Jeter

Tracy Lynette Jett

J’Quen O. Johnson

Jeffrey Tyler Johnson *+

Christiana Fe Jones

Sandra Rae Jones *+

Tashique Kader +

Angela Marie Kagley +

Briana Michelle Kaltenmark +

Colby R Kennedy

Landon Andrew King

Haylee Danielle Kirby

Toby De Klerk

Steven Frazier Knowles

Makayla Ellen Knuchel

Andrew D Kransberger +

Dallas Douglas Kuykendall

Andreas M. Kvam +

Stacey Lamb

Taylor Kara Lambertsen +

Elissa Ruth Lane +

Kendra Michelle Lane +

Zachary Aaron Lane +

Calley B. Lawson *+

Felicia Dawn Lawson

Mary Kristina Lawson +

Matthew Travis Lawson

Shane Allen Lawson +

Taylor Rae Leatherman

Macy Alexis Leatherwood

Randall Steven Lee +

Alvis T Legg

Amanda Chayne Lemings

Mariah Lynn Lewis +

Hayden Craig Lindemann

Jodi Marie Lister

Chrysta Leigh Long

Rachel Hope Looney +

Preston Donald Loveless

Brittany D. Lowery

Daniel Ray Lowery +

Benjamin Travis Lyle

Todd Eric Lynch

Amy Patrice Lyon +

Emma Catherine MacDonald *+

Morgan Mahaffey *+

Katarina Majorova *

Benedicta Makakala

Daulton Ray Martin

Miriah Elizabeth Martin +

Shawna Ann Martin +

Joie Cheyenne Massey

Kelli Lynn McCalla +

Joseph Bryson McCarter *+

Abraham McCauley

Shirleece Monique McClain

Tiaira Janay McCloud

Courtney Diane McCollister

Caleb Ray McCormick

Emma E. McCuiston

Annie Beth McCullough

Kerrie Anne McGaha

Sven McGaha *

Kiah B. McIsaac

Madison Neil McKinney +

Nanette Louise McLain +

Nicole Sarah McMillen +

Ragen Danielle McNair +

Ashley Nicole McPeek

Matthew Edward Meese +

Jordan Delaney Melvin

John J. Merritt

Hannah Elizabeth Metler

Makayla J Michaels

Charles Richard Mills +

Patrick Neal Minton *

Jason Randal Monroe +

Sarah Jennifer Monroe *+

AAliyah Jada Montgomery *+

Kaitlyn M Moore

Matthew Austin Moore

Hunter Andrew More

Charles Mark Morgan +

Kristen Leigh Morgan *+

Alycia Marjorie Morong

Vanessa Morton

Brittany K Motley

Eduardo Granados Munoz +

Shannon Rose Murphy *+

Tomi A. Nelson *+

David Michael New

Andrew Benjamin Newman

Robert E. Nichols +

Jonathan Edward Nicholson

Micah Brianne Nicley +

Kellie Leeann Niles *

Haley Marie Noe

Kylee Jordan Nolan +

Cortnay Paige Norman +

Whitnie Elaine Norman +

Amie Suzanne O’Brien +

Kevin Ryan O’Dell

Fabian Paier *+

Ross Gregory Parsons +

Hannah Nicole Parton

Kendall Patterson +

Kristen Leeann Patterson

Loren Danielle Peeters *

Glenda Pegues

Pau Peiro’ Vila

Austin David Pendergrass

Lindsey Pennington +

David Perry +

Matthew Petraglia

Ginger Faye Phillips

Matthew Ralph Pierce +

Matthew Allen Piper +

Amanda Leigh Ann Pipes +

Taylor Nicole Plemons *+

Diego C. Poore +

Melissa Joy Preast

David Ray Presley

Fabian Proesch

Lyndsey Blake Pulliam *

Courtney Leigh Purkey

Rachel Elizabeth Purswell

Jacqueline Nicole Rader *+

Matthew Ryne Ramsay

Ciara Rattana +

Zachary James Redden +

Chelsey Brooke Reed *+

Tracy Reeder

Treslyn Kelley Reese +

Sunday Lynn Reeves *+

Joshua Roy Repass

Linda Joy Reyna +

Daniel Dean Ricker

Leslie Nicole Rimmer

Allyson Kathleen Rines +

William Scott Ritter +

Rachael Elizabeth Roach +

Kaara Heloise Roark +

Monica Sloan Roberts

Rachel Elizabeth Roberts +

Malinda Irene Rode +

Alexander Mills Rolison

Carrie Leigh Rose +

Sarah Elizabeth Rowland +

Tabitha Ann Rue +

Brittany M. Ruffner *

Amber Michaela Russell *

Taylor Lashae Rymer

Kayla Marie Sager *

Bladimir Lenni Santiago Bautista *

Reanna Michael Saunders

Whitney Suzanne Scearce *+

Sabrina L. Schleuger +

Eric Thomas Schorr

Brooke Morgan Schreder *+

Drew Henry Schreder +

Kirsten Nicole Seals +

Talia Seiber +

Leon Seiz +

Dennis Eugene Sharp

Roxanne Inez Shepard +

Kaliah Alexis Sheppard +

Tara Ann Shields

Briley Nicole Shinlever +

Saasha Noel Shirooni +

Jaelyn Makelti Shoemaker

Megan Elizabeth Shortt

Madison Kate Shumaker +

David Felix Siegle +

Payton Dakota Silcox +

John Cody Simmons +

April Suzanne Skeen *+

Kimberly A Slayton

Adam Michael Smith +

Garland Taylor Smith +

John Rufus Conagher Smith +

Jordan Dianne Smith *+

Shelley Lynn Smith

Wendy Marie Smothers +

Lisa Jane Snowden

Elexis Sloan Snyder *+

Carey L. Sommers +

James William Spears +

Jonathan Spicher +

Candice Nicole Spradlin +

Laura Lynn Standifer

Paul John Stayskal

Karlee Nichole Stinson *

Wayne Gordon Stokes

Emily Anne Stoklosa

Robin Marie Stoner *+

John Frederic Storaska *

Jason Andrew Strange +

Travis Carl Stuart +

Renea Danielle Styles

Teela Sullivan +

Thomas Bradley Sullivan

Shannele Marjorie Sunderland +

Rachel Delaney Swatzell *

Kathy Lyne Swick +

Sarah Ann Symons

Jaron Michael Taylor

Mindy Lashea Taylor

Raymond Allen Thacker *+

James Kenneth Thompson

Kathryn Thompson

Timothy L Thompson

Carlie Amanda Thornber *+

Lauren Bryce Tino

Brent Adam Tittsworth +

John Robert Topoleski

Taylor Meriel Towe

Daniel Joseph Tremaine

Karen Michelle Trent

Kenneth R. Tucker +

Preston R Tucker +

Michael Alejandro Turk

Joshua Ryan Turner

Everett Cole Underwood

Linda Upmale

Cheyenne Upton +

Samuel J. A. Van Amberg +

Destiny Lashea Vanzant

Samantha Jean Vogt *+

Kristina Voiles

Rebekah Grace Voiles +

Madelyn J. Vossen

Brooke Elizabeth Wagner +

Bailey F. Walker *+

Misty D. Wallen +

Jake Thomas Wapinsky

Benjamin Harden Warnick +

Devan Scott Watts

Daniel D. Wedding +

Trevor Warren Weeks

Mitzi Michele Weese +

Seth Jacob Weisman

Victoria Kailand Weiss +

Patrick Shane Wells

Monique Alice Wesh *

Brodie T. West *

Kevin Eugene West

Samantha Ann West

Carly Leeanne White +

Sarah Caitlin White *

Taylor Lindsey White +

Amanda Adkins Whitson

David Jacob Wiedenbeck

Nicholas Ryan Wiley

Donna Nicole Wilkerson +

Debbie Lee Williams +

Peyton Melay Williams

Robert Clinton Williams

Taylor R. Williams

Taylor Ryan Williams *

Calandra Livesay Williamson +

Carolyn Elizabeth Williamson +

Jessica Renee Williamson

Kari Evelyn Wilson

Sydney Nicole Wilson +

William Pearce Wilson

Kaitlin Rose Winnie

Kimberly Ruth Wise +

Rachel Marie Wisner +

Ashley Woodall

Parker Katelyn Alisa Wright +

Ashley Dawn York *

Genevive Zaide +

Angelique Louise Zimcosky *+

Robert Donovan Zirkle





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Annual lecture series will focus on how the story of Jesus was preserved by early Christians

Annual lecture series will focus on how the story of Jesus was preserved by early Christians

Posted on 12 January 2017 by

Dr. Travis Williams

Tusculum College’s annual Theologian-in-Residence lecture series in February will consider how the story of Jesus was preserved and transmitted by early Christians prior to being recorded in the Gospels.

Dr. Travis Williams, assistant professor of religion at Tusculum College, will present

the series of lectures, “Jesus in Early Christian Memory: Remembering, Reconstructing and Rehearsing the Past.”  By considering the latest research on memory and oral tradition, the series will explore how the Jesus tradition was preserved and transmitted by the earliest Christian communities and what this means for a modern faith perspective.

Lectures will take place each Tuesday of the month – Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28 – in the series, sponsored by Tusculum College and partially funded by Ron Smith. Each lecture session will begin at 10 a.m. in the Chalmers Conference Center in the Niswonger Commons. The sessions typically end around 2 p.m., and lunch in the college’s cafeteria is included. There is no admission fee to attend the lectures.

This will be the third time that Dr. Williams has led the series, now in its 26th year. He previously served as Theologian-in-Residence in 2014, lecturing on the formation of early Christian identity in response to persecution, and last year, as he presented informative sessions about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Although a native of East Tennessee, Dr. Williams received his doctorate in New Testament from the University of Exeter in England. After moving back to the U.S., he began his career at Tusculum in 2010. His teaching duties at the college focus primarily on the Jewish and Christian traditions; however, he regularly leads courses that fall within the broader sphere of religious studies.

In his research, Dr. Williams focuses on a variety of different topics within the field of biblical studies, including the New Testament letter of 1 Peter, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the intersection between memory and ancient media culture. He has several books and articles published, including two recent articles about I Peter in academic journals and an essay about the reception of Jesus in the epistles of Peter and Jude in a reference series about Jesus’ reception in the first three centuries.

During the first session of the series on Feb. 7, “The Quest for Remembered Jesus,” Dr. Williams will provide a brief introduction to the quest for the historical Jesus. The session will consider where the search went off track and how a focus on memory could offer a helpful corrective.

“Jesus and the Cognitive Dimensions of Memory,” the second session on Feb. 14, will explore the various processes involved in the cognitive formation of memory. Most importantly, the session will focus on the different ways that distortion would have shaped the memories of Jesus.

The third session on Feb. 21, “Jesus and the Social Dimensions of Memory,” will consider the impact of social environment on the construction of memory. Part of this session will include an examination of the role of eyewitnesses in the formation and dissemination of the early Jesus tradition.

In the concluding lecture on Feb. 28, “Jesus and the Oral Transmission of Memory,” Dr. Williams will focus on the transmission of oral tradition within early Christian communities. In particular, attention will be given to the malleability and persistence of the Jesus tradition as it passed through human agents.

Although the series has no admission fee, reservations are required. For more information or to make a reservation for the series, please call 423-636-7304 or email

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Nearly 300 receive degrees Saturday at Tusculum College

Nearly 300 receive degrees Saturday at Tusculum College

Posted on 12 December 2016 by

Graduates walk the faculty gauntlet following Commencement services on Saturday at Tusculum College.

Graduating from Tusculum College during winter commencement ceremonies were 287 individuals in two ceremonies held on Saturday, Dec. 10.

On Saturday 92 students earned Bachelor of Science degrees and 105 earned Bachelor of Arts degrees. In addition 63 graduates earned Master of Arts degrees and 27 received Master of Business Administration degrees.

The new graduates were addressed by Tusculum President Nancy B. Moody, who recognized the hard work of the path to graduation, saying “Commencement is an occasion of celebration and completion.” Adding, “Today is a testament to your efforts, to your persistence, and today is your day. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishment.”

She told the group, that while there was no doubt they were thinking about the many people in their lives who had helped them and supported them on this journey, that graduation day was a moment to celebrate the completion of a goal they had worked hard to attain.

“You are not finished today, but you are beginning. You have worked hard to reach this milestone, but its value will depend on what you do from this point forward.”

Calley Lawson

Two student speakers addressed the graduates, including Calley Lawson, a special education major from Gaithersburg, Maryland. Lawson was a member of the Pioneer Women’s Golf Team. She was a member and president of Alpha Chi Honor Society, a mentor for the program TNAchieves and the golf team representative for Pioneer Student Athlete Advisory Committee. She was twice named an Academic-All American.

Lawson encouraged the graduates to “acknowledge and appreciate the investment Tusculum has made” in each one of them and credited the supportive environment that encouraged personal connections for an “unforgettable experience.” Adding, that the “bond created here at Tusculum will keep us connected for years to come as Pioneers.”

Also speaking was Roben Hartsell, of Seymour, who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. Hartsell addressed the challenges of adult students who return to

Roben Hartsell

school to seek their degrees, all the while managing work and family responsibilities. She talked about learning to hustle – to become resourceful, savvy and hardworking, while staying in balance and maintaining sanity. “It doesn’t end here,” she said. “You will be fully prepared to recognize the significance of hard work, and I hope you recognize and appreciate everything that encouraged your hustle.”

Dr. Ron May was the featured guest speaker at both ceremonies. Dr. May, vice president of academic affairs at Tusculum College and a 1968 graduate, has had a distinguished career in higher education, retiring in June 2014 as president of Ancilla College in Donaldson, Indiana. In his career he has taught public school, as well as served as a college professor, department head, dean, vice president and twice as a college president, at Ancilla and at Louisburg College in Louisburg, North Carolina. Dr. May also holds faculty rank as professor of education.

In his career, Dr. May has been recognized by numerous organizations, including by the Leadership Marshall County program with their Leader of the Year Award in 2011. He served Tusculum College as dean of faculty from 1985 to 1988. He also served for a time as the president of the Tusculum College Alumni Association.

Dr. May earned a Doctorate of Education from Indiana University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from East Tennessee State University and an Associate of Science from Vincennes University. He returned to serve as interim vice president of academic affairs in June 2014.

He told the graduates he intended to give them one last exam before they were done. A vocabulary quiz, focused on five words: commencement, servant, leader, difference and “Sit Lux.”

He discussed commencement in the terms of beginning – a new stage in their lives that began that day. Servant leadership, he explained, go together. “It is my hope that you will all be leaders.” Adding, “Through service to others, lead and change lives, serving first with the conscious choice to aspire to lead.”

He told the graduates that difference is what they should try to make in their lives and their world, and that they should recognize those who have made a difference in their lives.  Finally he addressed “Sit Lux,” the motto of Tusculum College that means “Let there be light.” Since 1794 he said, “Graduates of Tusculum College have brought light into the world. I challenge you to continue to be the light.”

Following his address during the morning commencement ceremony, Dr. May was presented an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. During the presentation, Dr. Moody called him a “true Pioneer, who has had a life committed to education, family, faith and his alma mater.”

Dr. Ron May, vice president of Academic Affairs at Tusculum College and a 1968 graduate, was presented and Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

She added, “Dr. May returned to Tusculum College in 2014 and has led the college’s academic programs for the past two years as vice president for academic affairs. Tusculum College is fortunate to have had the opportunity to continue to benefit from Dr. May’s leadership. His professional background has provided a vast experience in higher education administration and has support the College’s efforts to keep Tusculum first. He will most certainly leave Tusculum a better place for having been here.”


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Updates on capitol campaign, science building given to Trustees

Updates on capitol campaign, science building given to Trustees

Posted on 26 October 2016 by

Brick now covers all the exterior of the new Meen Center for Science and Math. The building is on schedule to be opened for classes in January.

The Tusculum First Capital Campaign at Tusculum College is at the $23.1 million mark with eight months left in the campaign, and officials expect to move into the Ronald H. and Verna June Meen Center for Science and Math in December.

These were among the topics covered when the Tusculum College Board of Trustees held its fall meeting on October 20-21 on the Greeneville campus.

Additionally, the Board gave full approval to Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science, environmental science, information technology and business administration. The Board approved a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies and a Master of Accountancy degree program. The Board also approved changing the name of the health care administration degree program to health care management, pending approval of the faculty.

The new programs will be initiated for fall semester 2017.

According to Heather Patchett, vice president of Institutional Advancement, the Tusculum First campaign is on track for a successful finish.

“Tusculum is $4.35 million over the established goal for endowed scholarship and more than $17 million of the funds raised has been received for will be received in the next five years,” she reported.

“The amount of funds raised in the campaign for endowed scholarships truly shows our commitment to help students who most need financial assistance,” said Dr. Kenneth A. Bowman, chair of the Board and 1970 alumnus of the college. “With reductions across the board in federal aid and other federal aid programs, Tusculum is committed to continue to serve the students of our region.”

The Ronald H. and Verna June Meen Center for Science and Math is near completion and plans are to move into the building during the Christmas break and hold classes in the facility beginning with the spring semester.

Residential enrollment numbers are up for the  2016-2017 academic year and the Board heard that this year’s entering residential class totals 368 incoming freshman and transfer students, an increase of 15 percent over 2015-2016. This number includes 296 entering freshmen, 52 transfer students and 20 new international students.

“Tusculum College’s residential program continues to grow for a number of reasons,” said Tusculum President Nancy B. Moody. “Our unique Civic Arts focus takes the liberal arts a step further in a nationally recognized approach to educating individuals of integrity and ideals. Additionally a wide range of majors – from museum studies to nursing – are combined with service learning and travel opportunities to create a completely unique experience.

“We are pleased to see the fruits of its expanded enrollment and retention efforts, furthering the goal of serving the region with accessible, affordable higher education opportunities.”

She added that enrollment numbers also reflect an increased focus on keeping enrolled students on campus until graduation. Tusculum’s support services for students provide everything from tutoring to book loan programs to help students achieve their dream of a college education. To this end, Tusculum College retained 68.2 percent of the first-time, full-time undergraduate students who enrolled during fall 2015, the highest retention rate in 10 years for the college’s residential program. This year’s retention rate was recorded at 68 percent, 9.1 percent over the previous year, and beating the previous high of 62 percent in 2014.

In other action, the Board approved revisions to the bylaws that came after previous revisions in the faculty handbook, by-laws and constitution were approved by the faculty.

Officers elected included: Chair, Dr. Bowman; Vice Chair, the Rev. Dr. Dan Donaldson; Treasurer, Dwight Ferguson, and Secretary, Mark R. Williams.

Bowman, who currently resides in Apollo, Pa., has been a member of the board since 1998 and chair since 2006. Rev. Donaldson is the pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Greeneville. He also serves as director of the Calvin Center, the Camp and Conference Center for the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta.

Ferguson joined the board in 2009. He is retired from Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc., located in Erwin, where he served as president and chief executive officer from March 1992 until January 2009. Williams, of Greeneville, joined the board in 2001. He is a broker with Century 21 Legacy.
Re-elected for an additional term as board members were Dr. Bowman; Williams; Rev. Donaldson; Dr. Larry Brotherton, a 1970 graduate of the college; and Lester Lattany, a 1987 and 1991 graduate of the college.

Three retiring Board members were recognized and presented with a resolution from the Board, recognizing the value of their service. Retiring Board members include Frank Horsman, a 1968 graduate of the college; Charlotte Gray, and Anna Gamble.

The next meeting of the Tusculum College Board of Trustees will be February 2017.

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