Archive | January, 2010

Pioneer Club Hospitality Event set for Saturday, January 30, is cancelled

Posted on 29 January 2010 by

The Pioneer Club Basketball Hospitality Event scheduled for Saturday, January 30, has been cancelled due to schedule changes relating to the expected winter storm this weekend.  A decision has not yet been made regarding the actual games; however, due to the strong possibility of the games being postponed or moved due to weather concerns, the Pioneer Club event will not be held.  If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 423-636-7303.

The next Pioneer Club event is scheduled for Saturday, February 20, at 3:30 p.m. and will be catered by the Chocolate Café.

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‘Dinner with 8 Pioneers’ program provides a new way for interaction between alumni and current students

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

Connecting alumni to current students and providing students the opportunity to learn from Pioneers past is the goal of a new program of the Tusculum College Office of Alumni Relations.

The first “Dinner with 8 Pioneers” was held in January and was hosted by alumni Bill and Jane Pilloni ’60 ’59 in their home. The Pillonis welcomed the opportunity to engage with Tusculum’s current students, and the students, members of the Tusculum College Student Alumni Association, enjoyed the opportunity of the insight into Tusculum’s past as well as advice for their future.

“With the success of the first dinner, the Office of Alumni Relations hopes this will become a regular event, with alumni and friends of the College stepping forward to be hosts in this program that benefits both the Student Alumni Association and those who host the dinners,” said Cody Greene ’08, coordinator of alumni and parent relations.

“The idea is to bring together students and alumni in a small dinner party setting, as a way to make new connections among the two groups who already have something in common – their Alma Mater,” said Greene. “It makes the Tusculum experience just a little bit more personal.”

The gatherings can be as formal – or as casual – as the host desires, and can take place in the alum’s home, outdoors or at a restaurant.

Greene, who is coordinating the Dinner with Eight Pioneers program this year with the Student Alumni Association, believes the dinners can provide the feeling of extended family for students away from home, and the dinner setting provides a nice evening out and an easy way to get to know one another.

If you would be interested in hosting a “Dinner with 8 Pioneers,” please contact Greene at 423-636-7303 or e-mail him at


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Giving Back to Your Alma Mater

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

giveback1Tusculum College and the education it provides have opened doors leading to success for many alumni. You may be one of those who are seeking a way to show your gratitude to your Alma Mater.

There are many ways to give back to Tusculum College that can positively affect the lives of current students as well as your own.

A new way for alumni to give back is through the “Dinner with 8 Pioneers” program. In Tusculum’s version of a program that has proven successful at many colleges, alumni and friends of the College host a dinner or similar event for members of the Student Alumni Association. The event is a way for students to interact with alumni, learn about the workplace, practice networking skills and swap stories about life at Tusculum then and now. For alumni and friends of the College, it is a way to have a positive impact on the lives of current students and give back to their Alma Mater in a unique way.

Alumni can also return to class as a guest lecturer in their area of expertise. Students can gain a valuable insight into the career field from an alumnus that cannot be found in a textbook. Particularly for upperclassmen, the idea of soon entering the workplace is a daunting and intimidating one. Meeting alumni who have successfully made the journey from college to career can be a great encouragement to students.

Another way to give back is to participate in alumni events or activities. Alumni events, whether they are on campus in East Tennessee or across the nation, are an important way for the College to keep in contact with alumni and strengthen their connectivity. Through these events, College staff can learn what issues are important to alumni and what concerns they have, which helps Tusculum better serve its alumni. Alumni can also host evets in their homes, a local restaurant or other venue. College staff also takes Tusculum to them in these events, updating alumni on recent happenings.

Alumni are also among the best ambassadors Tusculum College has. Alumni can share with their neighbors, church youth and others about Tusculum and how it has benefited their lives. Alumni can also serve as the College’s ambassadors at College Fairs. Tusculum’s Admission staff cannot attend all the College Fairs that they wish, but alumni have helped the College by participating in College Fairs in locations of the recruiting radius. The Admission Office supplies the materials needed for the College Fair to prepare the alumnus for spending a day or an evening telling prospective students about Tusculum. Alumni can also share names of those who would be good prospects as students. A form that alumni can submit to the College has been added to the Alumni E-newsletter. Check out the link on the left side of this page.

Monetary gifts have a significant importance, as Tusculum College cannot meet its all its financial and academic goals or carry out our mission without alumni participation. There are many ways to give – to specific academic scholarships, to academic programs or athletics or to support the College’s overall operations, to name a few. Whatever a person’s interest in supporting, there is most likely an avenue to give to that interest, and if not, one can be created. Gifts can be made online.

Alumni can even encourage monetary gifts to the College.  How? One way is through memorial contributions. For example, Bertha Cathrall ’42 passed away last week and her husband, Jack Cathrall ’41, remembered their Alma Mater by asking that in lieu of flowers, people send memorial contributions to the Dixon Cathrall Memorial Scholarship Fund at the College, which the couple had established in memory of their son, a 1977 graduate of Tusculum.

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‘Appalachian Divas’ featuring alumna to perform on Jan. 31

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

appalachiandivasThree talented, well known regional vocalists will share some musical fun in a special “Appalachian Divas” concert Sunday, Jan. 31, at Tusculum College.

Sopranos Jennifer Barnett and Jill Jones ’94 ’04 and mezzo soprano Kristin Small will perform together in a concert that will feature a range of music from opera arias to show tunes from popular musicals to American standards.

The concert will be at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building on the Tusculum campus. The performance is part of Tusculum College Arts Outreach’s 2009-10 Acts, Arts, Academia performance and lecture series.

The three vocalists, who have known each other since the 1990s and first sang together as part of the Knoxville Opera Company, will be performing some of their favorite pieces. The program will begin with arias from operas such as “Susannah,” “I Puritani” and “Carmen” and feature favorite tunes from musicals such as “West Side Story,” “Nunsense” and “Showboat.” The concert will conclude with patriotic standards.

The vocalists have enjoyed working and putting the program together. “Don’t expect the typical recital,” Jones says.

Her compatriots are two very talented vocalists, Small says, and the three vocalists have a deep appreciation for each others’ talents.

One of the special things about the concert, they agree, is the opportunity to not only perform together but to also choose the program, something that even featured performers rarely have the chance to do.

“It is special for us, and we hope that comes through the audience as well,” Barnett says.
In addition to choosing pieces they wanted to sing, the vocalists selected music that would not only represent the region but the country as well, she added.

Barnett, a native of Greeneville, completed a bachelor of arts in music from Emory & Henry College.  During her undergraduate years, Jennifer was a soloist with the college’s choirs including the touring Concert Choir that performed in Brazil.  While at Emory & Henry, she also sang with the Bristol Concert Choir. Her stage experience includes roles in “The Crucible” and “Where’s Charley?” as well as the lead role in “Susannah.” Barnett was selected to participate in a Carnegie Hall Choral Workshop in 2000 and had the opportunity to work under James Conlon, conductor with the Paris Opera Company.

She earned her master’s degree in voice from Indiana University.  While at Indiana, she sang roles in “Turn of the Screw,” “Cosi fan Tutti” and “Le Nozze di Figaro.”  Barnett is the director of education and community partnerships for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.  She sang her Masterworks debut with the orchestra in 2004 in DeFalla’s “Tri-Cornered Hat” and has since performed Mozart’s “Impressario” Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and two sets of American songs on the Knoxville Symphony Chamber series last year.  She has also performed with the Oak Ridge Symphony.  Barnett is an ensemble member of the Knoxville Opera Company.  In addition, she teaches music appreciation for Tusculum College’s Gateway program in Knoxville. Barnett also has ties to Tusculum through her father, Dan Barnett, who is an associate professor of chemistry at the college.

Jones has sung with the Greater Greeneville Chorale and has appeared in many theatre productions at Tusculum College, including the role of the mother in “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”  She has appeared in several Little Theatre of Greeneville productions including “The Fantasticks,” “The Sound of Music” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

In 1993 and 1995 she was a soprano soloist with the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra, and in 2006 she was a soprano soloist with the Johnson City Symphony.  In 1997, she sang the role of Monica in the Johnson City Area Arts Council’s production of “The Medium.”  Her many solo oratorio appearances include requiems by Rutter, Mozart, Duruflé and Brahms, Schubert’s “Mass in G,” Handel’s “Messiah” and Vivaldi’s “Gloria.”  Currently she sings with the Knoxville Opera, the Civic Chorale, Tusculum College Community Chorus and First Presbyterian Church of Greeneville. Jones is director of Academic Advising at Tusculum College. The native of Newport News, Va., holds a master of arts in adult education and a bachelor of arts in biology/mathematics with a minor in vocal performance from Tusculum College.

As a mezzo-soprano, Small has performed on numerous stages throughout the southeast, singing in both the musical theater and opera venue. She has performed such roles as Katisha in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta “The Mikado,” Julie LaVerne in Jerome Kern’s “Showboat” and Guinevere in Alan Jay Lerner and Frederic Loewe’s “Camelot.” Locally, Small has sung the roles of Ado Annie in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” and Sister Robert Anne in Dan Goggin’s “Nunsense,” “Nunsense II”, and “Nuncrackers.” Small has been rostered with the Knoxville Opera Company for 15 years, where she can be seen in the current production of “Lucia de Lammermoor.”

Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 years of age and older, and $5 for children 12 and under. For more information, contact Tusculum College Arts Outreach at 423-798-1620, e-mail or visit

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Class Notes – learn the latest about your fellow alumni

Class Notes – learn the latest about your fellow alumni

Posted on 28 January 2010 by


Sam and Nan Jean (Thomas) Roller ’49 ’49 celebrated their 60th anniversary on December 26, 2009. The couple has three daughters and son-in-laws, eight grandchildren (four boys and four girls) and one great-grandson. The Rollers are living in a retirement facility in Portland, OR, which has views of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams and the Willamette River.

Jean R. Holsten ’57 of Taylorsville, NC, celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary with her husband, Ed, on September 26, 2009.  They have marked the milestone with a cruise to Alaska, a train and bus trip through the Canadian Rockies and a beach trip with their two sons and their families. They also celebrated with a formal dinner reception. “Wow!,” Jean writes. “We only splurge every 50 years!”

The Rev. Donald F. Garrett ’59 and his wife, Sharon, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August 2009.

Jim Owen ’60 and his wife, Pat, have moved to Franklin, TN, to be closer to their grandchildren.

Annette Clark Gernhardt ’64 of Chesapeake, VA, writes that her health limits her travel, but she and her husband, Paul, are able to trade visits with their son, Alan, daughter-in-law Michele and granddaughter Sabrina. Annette would enjoy hearing from her Tusculum friends. Her e-mail is

Dr. Larry Brotherton ’70 of Easley, SC, has been elected as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA).  Brotherton has served on SOCMA’s Board of Governors since 2000. SOCMA is the leading trade association of the batch, custom and specialty chemical industry since 1921. Its nearly 300 members employ more than 100,000 workers across the country and produce 50,000 products valued at $60 billion annually.

The Rev. Lester Lattany ’87 ’91
of Johnson City, TN, is serving others through Christian ministry in a new way. After 18 years as pastor of a church in Kingsport, TN, Rev. Lattany has founded New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Johnson City, and his wife, daughters and son are all sharing in its ministry. The church’s inaugural service was held earlier this month. The family felt led to expand their ministry and Johnson City was the area to which they were led to form a Christ-centered church where people can worship, learn and grow. Rev. Lattany is president and CEO of the United Way of Washington County and describes its role along with that of pastor as completing the full circle of his personal ministry with the spiritual component fulfilled through the church and the humanitarian component filled through his work with the United Way. The new church is affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Missionary and Education Association.

Michael (Sledge) Sledzinski ‘90 has been appointed by the Tennessee Board of Regents to the position of associate HVAC/R technology instructor at Tennessee Technology Center Knoxville. Mike resides with his wife Connie in Lenoir City, TN, and would love to hear from classmates. He can be reached at

Johnnie Lyons ’98 of Johnson City, TN, has joined Free Will Baptist Family Ministries as the administrator of Governor’s Bend, the first assisted-living facility to be constructed in Erwin, TN.  The facility is under construction and expected to be completed in January 2011. Johnnie has 31 years of experience in the healthcare industry, including service at other assisted living facilities.

Lorrie A. McGovern ’01 of Bristol, TN, has been appointed dean of the King College School of Business and Economics. McGovern is an associate professor of business at the school. Prior to her new role, she served as director for the Bachelor of Business Administration program. After earning her master’s from Tusculum, she continued her education, earning a doctorate of business administration with a concentration in marketing from Argosy University.  Before entering education, she was the owner and affiliate broker for RE/MAX Central Realty. She also spent several years at the Bristol Chamber of Commerce as the director of community development.

Anup Kaphle ’07 has joined the Washington Post Opinions team as an editor-producer. Kaphle recently joined the newspaper from Atlantic Media. As a digital media fellow there, he helped to launch an opinions aggregator, implemented various social media applications and edited photos, video, graphics and text. He also made his way to Afghanistan on a South Asian Journalists Association Reporting fellowship and came back with fascinating photos and video. Born and raised in Nepal, Kaphle earned a graduate degree in new media from Columbia University’s Journalism School. In his new position, he will help conceive and implement ideas that get readers more involved in the conversation, that provide context and depth to content and that leverage new applications and technologies to make the Opinion section more dynamic, more influential, more interesting and more fun.

Ashley M. Kizer ’09 and Jason W. Van Norstran were married on August 28, 2009, at Bald River Falls in Tellico Plains, TN. Ashley is working for Molecular Pathology Laboratory.


Melissa McAffry Piercy ‘02 and Stefan Piercy ’99 ‘01 announce the birth of their third child, Mason Sharp Piercy, born August 4, 2009. They have a 2-year-old daughter Allison LeeAnn Piercy, born December 17, 2007, and a 6-year-old daughter, Olivia Anne Piercy, born May 21, 2003. Melissa is finishing graduate school at the University of Tennessee in the spring of 2010. Both are teaching and enjoying their family.

Dr. Lynn B. Smith ’40 of Greeneville, TN, passed away December 11, 2009. Dr. Smith was a dentist. He was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church. A veteran, Dr. Smith served as a medic in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was also a member of the American Dental Association, the Tennessee Dental Association, the Rotary Club and the Greeneville Dental Society. His survivors include his sons and Tusculum alumni Dr. Kevin Smith ’77 and Dr. Brian Smith ’82.

Juanita Ross Warner ’40 of Greeneville, TN, passed away on December 12, 2009, following an extended illness. While working as a home demonstration agent in Crossville, TN, she met Jack Warner, who was stationed there with the U.S. Army. After their marriage, the couple returned to Greene County to operate the family business, the W. C. Ross Company, which dealt with wholesale commodities for more than 60 years. Mrs. Warner was a member of First Presbyterian Church, where she had served as a ruling elder, teacher and as an active member of the Women’s Association as long as her health permitted. She was a former member and treasurer of the Andrew Johnson Women’s Club.

Bertha Ray Cathrall ’42 of Stratford, NJ, passed away on January 21, 2010. Mrs. Cathrall was a native of Greeneville, TN, and met her husband, Jack Cathrall ’41 at Tusculum College.  She taught home economics for over 20 years at Triton High School in Camden County, NJ. The family has asked that contributions be made in Mrs. Cathrall’s memory to the Dixon Andrew Cathrall Memorial Scholarship Fund at Tusculum College, P.O. Box 5040, Greeneville, TN 37743. The couple had established the scholarship in memory of their son, a 1977 graduate of Tusculum.

Peter Rossi ’42 of Richmond, IN, passed away on June 18, 2009. In notifying the College of his death, his wife of 68-years Jean Thonas Rossi ’44 wrote, “We both loved Tusculum. We thank you for bringing us together.” Mr. Rossi was a retired banking industry executive.

Arland O. Honeycutt ’43 of Rockford, IL, passed away October 18, 2009. Mr. Honeycutt was a precision tool grinder and engineer for Barber Coleman. He was a veteran, having served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II as a co-pilot on a B24 plane. He participated in several missions over Italy, Austria and other countries in the European Theatre of the war. His survivors include his sister and Tusculum alumna Helen Honeycutt Hartman ’59 and his niece Susan Hartman ’74.

Mary Alice Dickson Browder ’47 of Kingsport, TN, passed away November 17, 2009 after a short period of declining health. Mrs. Browder was a retired math teacher from Sullivan South High School. Her survivors include her sister and Tusculum alumna Dorothy Dickson Hawk ’48.

Dr. Marjorie Nelle Hyder Cardwell ’48 of Elizabethton, TN, passed away on December 26, 2009, after a brief illness.  Dr. Cardwell is remembered by family and friends as a dedicated servant to God, the poor and the weak as well as a loving mother and wife. Although she held many degrees, Dr. Cardwell considered her most notable education was through her developmentally disabled son, Robbie. She taught speech and hearing in the Elizabethton City Schools for several years while starting classes for the mentally handicapped. In 1969, she combined her passion as an advocate for people with developmental disabilities with her career as she went to work at the state-operated Greene Valley Development Center. Dr. Cardwell served as superintendent of Greene Valley for several years as well as serving as superintendent of Clover Bottom Developmental Center. After she had retired, she was asked to return to state service as Assistant Commissioner and later as Commissioner of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. She was known statewide as a crusader, advocating for all people regardless of how differently-abled or their status in society. Dr. Cardwell had a strong faith, and was guided by her favorite Bible verse, Matthew 25:40, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” She taught Sunday School for decades at the First Baptist Church of Elizabethton. She was active in the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC), Holston Methodist Home for Children, the Carter County-Elizabethton Library Association, the Southern Baptist Convention, Watauga Association, Hale Community Ministries, along with many organizations that benefited people of all walks of life.

Donald A. Maxwell ’48 of Kingsport, TN, passed away on September 26, 2009. He was retired from Eastman Chemical Company after 36 years of service as a chemist. Mr. Maxwell was a longtime member of Bethany Presbyterian Church and the Warrior’s Path Volunteer Fire Department. A veteran, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a radio operator and mechanic for three years. He was awarded the American Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.  His survivors include his wife of 58 years and Tusculum alumna Mary Louise Jordan Maxwell ’50.

Jay I. Brooks, Jr., ’49 of Portsmouth, VA, passed away November 30, 2009. Mr. Brooks was retired from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. He had served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and was a service officer for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was also an active member of the American Legion and National Association of Retired Federal Employees.  His survivors include his wife of 59 years and Tusculum alumna Lynn Allison Brooks ’49.

Judy Scholl Magill ’55 of Birmingham, AL, passed away on September 29, 2009.  Mrs. Magill was a life-long educator. She was certified to teach in both elementary and secondary grades, but her favorite was first grade. When she was not teaching, she was directing a kindergarten-daycare facility. While she lived in Knoxville, TN, she was a devoted member of Lake Forest Presbyterian Church. During her last years in Knoxville, Mrs. Magill enjoyed working as a volunteer with Baptist Hospice. She was instrumental in establishing a support group called Bridges for widows who needed help in beginning a new life after the death of their husbands. After moving to Birmingham, Mrs. Magill became a member of Shades Valley Presbyterian Church.

Zella Dunn Malone ’57 of Greeneville, TN, passed away January 10, 2010, after a year-long battle with leukemia. Mrs. Malone was a retired teacher, having taught school for 31 years at EastView Elementary School in Greeneville. She was very active in her community as a member of Wesley’s Chapel Grange and Baileyton Chapter No 319, Order of the Eastern Star. She had been a member of the Grange since the 1950s and, in 1992 was named “Granger of the Year” for the State of Tennessee. She was a reporter to the Tennessee Granger and was a former director of Junior Grange at the state level. Throughout the years, she had been a Grange lecturer at the local level and a chairperson of community service, as well as assisting in legislative, deaf awareness and women’s activities. Mrs. Malone was also a long-time community correspondent to The Greeneville Sun newspaper for her home community of Wesley’s Chapel. She was a member of Wesley’s Chapel United Methodist Church for more than 65 years, where she was a lay leader, taught the Young Adult Class and was a member of the United Methodist Women.

Dallas W. Maddron ’50 of Winter Park, FL, passed away on January 16, 2010. A native of Newport, TN, Mr. Maddron volunteered to join the U.S. Navy while in the 12th grade and deployed to the South Pacific where he served for 15 months during World War II. Upon returning from the war, he enrolled in Tusculum, earning a degree in biology and chemistry. After he was unable to get into medical school, Mr. Maddron decided to pursue a career in education, finding a position teaching science and coaching basketball at Topsail High School in Hampstead, NC. He later completed a master’s degree in education and biology. Mr. Maddron then took a position at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies where he trained to teach and interpret atomic science. He traveled the nation in a teaching mobile, lecturing in high schools, colleges, museums and to large gatherings such as state fairs and conventions to explain atomic energy and its benefits. In 1959, Mr. Maddron moved to Florida to accept a position with Orange County Public Schools to help start what is now the Orlando Science Center. He was the science center’s first planetarium curator and later became the science supervisor for Orange County Public Schools, where he worked for 35 years until his retirement and oversaw a program that became recognized as one of the best in the nation. He started an environmental education program at local state parks and a learning program for teachers at Disney’s EPCOT Center’s Land Pavilion. He served as the director of the Southeastern Consortium of Minority Engineers, a program that aided minority students with paid internships with local industries. He received numerous awards in the field of science education. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Winter Park.

Edward Smelcer ’62 of Kinston, NC, passed away on October 10, 2009. Mr. Smelcer was plant manager at Austin-Carolina Tobacco Co., with 42 years of service. He was a member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

Roger Bragdon ’73 of Duncan, SC, passed away on February 5, 2008. Mr. Bragdon was retired, having served as assistant superintendent at Greene Valley Developmental Center in Greeneville, TN. He was also a veteran, having serving in the Army.

Dionne Benton ’04 of Knoxville, TN, passed away on January 14, 2010, after a battle with cancer. Ms. Benton was a proud employee of US Cellular. She had earned her bachelor’s degree in organizational management and had started to pursue her master’s degree in organizational management when she was diagnosed. She was a member of Redemption Center International. Her survivors include sister and Tusculum alumna Deborah Benton ’08.

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Performance artist to bring theology to life during Theologian-in-Residence series in February

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

alstaggsPerformance artist Dr. Al Staggs will provide a unique view of various aspects of theology during the 2010 Theologian-in-Residence lecture series in February at Tusculum College.

Dr. Staggs will explore a range of topics from the legacy of Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer to the role of laughter in life as part of the annual lecture series, co-sponsored by the Holston Presbytery and Tusculum College. The lecture series includes sessions on each Tuesday in February – Feb. 2, Feb. 9, Feb. 16 and Feb. 23. Sessions will be in the Chalmers Conference Center inside the Niswonger Commons on the Tusculum campus.

This year’s series will be led by Dr. Staggs, who brings notable theologians and theological ideas to life as a performance artist. He served for 24 years as a Baptist minister before turning his energies full-time to performance as his ministry.

Dr. Staggs discovered his performing abilities in high school when he began to impersonate famous comedians for his classmates and teachers. After serving in the U.S. Army, he turned his attention to obtaining the necessary education to serve others as a minister.

During his post-graduate studies, Dr. Staggs was increasingly drawn to individuals in recent history who had devoted their lives to justice and peace concerns. After two decades of serving as a parish minister, he came to terms with the fact that his real passions related to performing and to working for peace and justice.

Twenty years ago, Dr. Staggs combined his two passions by writing and performing a one-person play that takes his audience into the prison cell of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer after he was imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II.

A few years later after he made the decision to begin his performance ministry, Dr. Staggs added characterizations of Clarence Jordan, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Thomas Merton and Walter Rauschenbusch to his repertoire of programs. He finds great satisfaction in bringing these notable figures to life and sharing their relevant messages with audiences throughout the world.
Dr. Staggs also enjoys bringing joy through laughter to people’s lives in a program designed for business, civic and medical organizations and church groups.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University, a master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a master of theology degree from Harvard Divinity School and a doctor of ministry degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Dr. Staggs was honored as a Charles E. Merrill Fellow at Harvard in 1983 with major emphasis in applied theology. He also completed a year internship in clinical pastoral education at Baylor University Medical Center.

On Feb. 2, Dr. Staggs’ program will be  “A View from the Underside: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.”  It will feature his one-person play that brings the life of one of the great heroes of the 20th century to the stage. The audience is brought into the prison cell where Bonhoeffer awaits execution and listens to his struggles with evil, injustice and God.

The program for Feb. 9 will be “Clarence Jordan and the God Movement.” Jordan was a farmer, Baptist minister and Biblical scholar who, in 1942, founded the interracial community of Koinonia in southern Georgia. The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia. Jordan and Habitat’s co-founder Millard Fuller developed a concept of “partnership housing,” in which those in need of adequate housing worked side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses. Jordan’s life and theology were a radical embodiment of the teachings of Jesus, especially those from the Sermon on the Mount.

Feb. 16’s program will be “Laughter for Life,” in which audiences will discover that Staggs is a character. In fact, he is 30 or more characters in this program. Through the medium of his many zany comedic impressions, Staggs will demonstrate the importance of humor in aiding spiritual, emotional and physical health.

The series will conclude on Feb. 23 with “William Sloane Coffin: a Priestly Prophet.” Coffin, an American Protestant social activist who was greatly influenced by the social philosophy of Reinhold Nebuhr, became a leader in the Civil Rights and peace movements of the 1960s and 1970s when he was chaplain at Yale University. He continued his involvement in social concerns such as nuclear disarmament and the plight of war refugees in the following decades.

Each session will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at about 1:30 p.m. Lunch is included. There is no admission fee to the sessions but reservations are required.

To make reservations or for more information about the series, please contact Angie Dean in the Office of Church Relations at 423-636-7319 or e-mail her at

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Theatre-at-Tusculum to present ‘A … My Name is Alice” in February

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

mynameisalice_graphicTheatre-at-Tusculum will present “A… My Name is Alice” in February with a cast that includes a number of Tusculum College students and alumni.

The cast of the musical revue includes nine Tusculum college students – Paige Hudson, Allison Harris, Sabine Azemar, Kayla Desiree Jones, Amanda Lee Huylebroeck, Julian Robinson Parks, Billie Jennings, Brianna Cox and Brian Ricker. Other cast members include alumnae Angela Alt Bride ’95 and Paige Malone Mengel ’88.

The musical revue, which director Marilyn duBrisk describes as a “naughty little musical revue,” will be performed at the David Behan Arena Theater on February 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. and on February 21 and 28 at 2 p.m. The play is recommended for mature audiences, high school and up, says duBrisk, artist-in-residence at Tusculum.

The show gets its unusual name from the way in which each of the cast members introduces herself by reciting an adult update on the children’s ABC nursery rhyme.

“Alice” features about 20 songs and sketches that explore the many facets of women’s lives with insight, empathy and self-deprecating humor. Sophisticated, bawdy, funny and insightful, the revue portrays friends, rivals, sisters, mothers, business professionals and more.

Conceived by Joan Micklin Silver and Julianne Boyd, Alice was first introduced in 1984 at the American Place Theatre in New York as part of its Women’s Project, and enjoyed a long run at the Village Gate Off Broadway.

Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 years of age and over and $5 for children 12 and under. For more information, contact Tusculum College Arts Outreach at 423-798-1620, e-mail or visit

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Tusculum Library Director publishes 80th book

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

smith_bookcoverDirector of the Library Myron “Jack” Smith recently published his 80th book. His latest release, titled, “Tinclads in the Civil War — Union Light-Draught Gunboat Operations on Western Waters, 1862-1865, ” focuses on the converted riverboats that were used as naval vessels on the Western front of the Civil War from 1862-1865.

This is his third book in the “The Civil War on Western Waters” series. The first was “Le Roy Fitch: The Civil War Career of a Union River Boat Commander.” It was published by in 2007. The second volume in the series was Smith’s “The Timberclads in the Civil War: The Lexington, Conestoga and Tyler on the Western Waters,” published 2008.

“The College congratulates Jack on reaching this milestone,” said Tusculum College President Dr. Nancy B. Moody. “Publishing 80 books is an amazing lifetime achievement, and he is a shining example of how our faculty and staff contribute to academic excellence at Tusculum College.”

In its 412-pages, the new book covers in great detail the U.S. Navy’s tinclad river gunboats along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, especially in Tennessee and Kentucky, pointing out that “the U.S. Navy’s tinclad vessels met the needs of President Abraham Lincoln’s government for easily-procured vessels that could operate year-round in shallow rivers.”

According to Smith, the new volume focuses on Confederate resistance to Federal inland river nautical activity, emphasizing the South’s efforts to hit the Union steamboat logistical effort between the summer of 1862 and early 1865. Also included are the ship-to-shore battles between the Union tinclads and bands of Confederate guerrillas and gray-clad regular Army cavalry.

Once the Union Army gained control of the upper rivers of the Mississippi Valley during the first half of 1862, slow and heavy ironclads proved ineffective in patrolling the waters. Hastily outfitted steamboats were covered with thin armor and pressed into duty. These tinclads fought Confederate forces attacking from the riverbanks, provided convoy for merchant steamers, enforced revenue measures, and offered tow, dispatch and other fleet support services. This history documents the service records and duties of these little-known vessels of the Union fleet.

Smith’s latest work is dedicated to the staff at Tusculum College’s Thomas J. Garland Library.
The book’s price is retail priced at $55; however, it will be available in the Tusculum College Bookstore for $49.95.  The Bookstore also has the first and second books of the “The Civil War on Western Waters” series in stock.

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Wellness and Learning Panel Discussion to be hosted on campus by Niswonger Foundation

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

niswongerfoundationlogo“Wellness and Learning – Finding the Link in Southern Appalachia” is the topic of an expert panel discussion that will be sponsored by the Niswonger Foundation for the benefit of Tusculum College students, staff, faculty and anyone interested in participating.

The event will be Tuesday, February 16, at 7 p.m. and will be held at Annie Hogan Byrd Auditorium.

The panel of experts include: Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University; Oliver “Buzz” Thomas, president of Great Schools Partnership and former director of the Niswonger Foundation; Dr. Kimberly Ferguson, director of the Hancock County school-based health centers, and Dr. John Boyd, principal of Science Hill High School.

Topics to be addressed include the current level of health and educational achievement in Northeast Tennessee, the possible directions for the future and the role that the next generation of citizens can and must play in improving the region.

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Tusculum College, students, staff and faculty recognize Martin Luther King Day

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

On Monday, January 18, Tusculum College students celebrated the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King with service projects and Tusculum’s Tom McKay, student services facilitator for the Knoxville Regional Center, shared his personal story as a speaker at the Oak Ridge Martin Luther King multi-denominational services at First Christian Church.

“Because Martin Luther King was devoted to service, we are designating the holiday not as a day off, but as a day on — devoted to serving others,” said Joyce Doughty, director of the College’s Center for Civic Advancement.

The activity was sponsored by the Center for Civic Advancement and the Tusculum College Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Doughty said there were seventeen volunteer Tusculum College students and staff members who gathered to work with children from the Greeneville Boys & Girls Clubs.

The Tusculum College students spent time with their young visitors working on a variety of arts and crafts projects, including flower making and helping the 24 children who participated create pet rocks and put together coloring books for patients in local hospitals. Several of the Tusculum students who are in the Bonner Leaders program will accompany the children to deliver the books on Monday, January 25.

McKay was one of several speakers to participate in the Martin Luther King Day services in Oak Ridge and focused his topic on “What Martin Luther King Means to Me.”

“I spoke of my experience with segregated schools being integrated in Paden City, W.V., as well as my ‘colored’ roommate at the United State Naval Academy who became the Outstanding 1960s Alumnus in 1995,” said McKay.

He also discussed how much the world has changed, and the integration of his own family when he welcomed his daughter-in-law into the family in 1990.


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‘Fabulous Cars of the ‘50s’ focus of lecture presentation

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

50scarsThey just don’t make them like that anymore. The “Fabulous Cars of the ’50s” was the topic of a lecture presentation held Tuesday, January 26, at the Thomas J. Garland Library on the Tusculum College campus.

More than 15 people braved the snowy weather and were treated to a lively presentation by Charles Tunstall, assistant professor of library science and reference and instructional services librarian. Tunstall, a self-proclaimed car enthusiast, presented a wide selection of cars through the decade along with information and trivia about their makers and in some cases those who owned them.

Many of the cars presented during the presentation were those of the “Big Three” automotive manufacturers of the time – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler; however, Tunstall also offered some more rare models including those from Studebaker, Willys, Kaiser, Fraser and Nash.

Most of the cars of the 1950s were larger models, according to Tunstall, as Americans were seeing low gas prices and the automobile was the ultimate status symbol. One interesting tidbit about the early years, Kaiser actually sold their “Henry J” and other models out of the appliance section of the Sears and Roebuck store.

Some of the key trends through the decade of the 1950s included moving away from dual panel windshields to the single panel we see on cars today, as well as the rise in popularity of fins and an increased number of models made with quad headlights.

No discussion of the 1950s cars would be complete without the discussion of the Ford Edsel, which has been described as the “worst financial disaster in the automotive industry.” Tunstall described the development of the Edsel as being developed based on market research conducted by Ford.

Unfortunately for the Detroit manufacturer, despite giving the public what they said they wanted, the Edsel took so long to get to production that “by the time it came out, the public had changed its mind,” Tunstall told the group.

Also making its private consumer debut was the Jeep, initially a GP, general purpose, vehicle used in World War II. According to Tunstall, the Jeep was produced for the public market after many veterans returned with a fondness for the vehicle from their time in service.

The photo slide show driven presentation ended up with the cars of 1960, as manufacturers finally began producing a few compact cars as the American public turned their attention to imports, such as the popular Volkswagen.

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Like to Draw? This Competition May Be For You

Posted on 28 January 2010 by

pen_graphicThe Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) is sponsoring a competition to design a new logo for the Commission apart from the organization’s seal.

A cash prize will be awarded for the top three submissions. First prize is $500, second, $300, and third, $200. The competition is open to students, faculty, staff, alumni and retirees of member institutions, which includes Tusculum College.

The winning logo will be presented at the SACS-COC annual meeting in December 2010. The new logo will be phased in and will completely replace the currently the current logo that appears on Web pages, stationery, business cards and official publications of the organization.
The deadline for receiving entries is Friday, April 30, 2010. Entries should be mailed to: Logo Competition, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097.

Entries should be submitted on paper and in electronic format – the Commission is seeking a logo that presents well in both media.

In judging, identifying information will be removed from the entries, which will be screened by the Commission staff. The staff will select the top 10 designs, which will then be reviewed by the SACS-COC Board of Trustees, who will make the final selections.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. The Commission’s mission is the enhancement of educational quality throughout the region and it strives to improve the effectiveness of institutions by ensuring that institutions meet standards established by the higher education community that address the needs of society and students. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees.

For more information about entry rules and the competition, visit the SACS-COC Web site.

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