More than 700 students, faculty, staff and alumni of Tusculum College fanned out into the region on Wednesday to provide a day of service through helping others and improving the community.
All freshmen and first-year transfer students participated in Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day as part of the Tusculum Experience course. Many other students, faculty, staff and alumni also pitched in totaling 726 participants working at 36 locations, including volunteers from the Knoxville Regional Center and the Greeneville campus, according to Dr. Ronda Gentry, director of the Center for Civic Advancement and coordinator of the event. This was the largest participation for a Nettie Service Day in more than a decade.
Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day is one of the longest-held traditions on the Tusculum campus and involves students spending time in service to others. Some of the projects that the students undertook included working with local non-profit organizations, cleaning public spaces and working with local schools.
“Today we celebrate what Tusculum does and what it means to be a Tusculum Pioneer,” said Dr. Gentry. “Nettie Day serves as an introduction to our new students and a reminder to our entire community of the importance and value of community involvement.”
In the morning kick-off session, Dr. Gentry told the group that what they would do today would impact tens of thousands of lives.
This year, Nettie Day participants helped numerous organizations, including Rural Resources, the Greeneville/Greene County Humane Society, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Greeneville Theatre Guild, the Oaks Retreat Center, local parks and several schools. Service activities were also conducted on the Tusculum campus.
Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day, which is conducted under the auspices of the Center for Civic Advancement, honors the memory and altruistic way of life of Nettie Fowler McCormick, widow of reaper inventor Cyrus McCormick, who was a 19th century supporter and advocate of Tusculum College. The McCormicks, staunch Presbyterians from Chicago, learned of Tusculum College through Tusculum graduates who attended their McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and became some of the most significant donors in the college’s history.
Nettie McCormick is recognized as the college’s first benefactor, a term that in Tusculum usage denotes a donor whose cumulative gifts total at least $1 million. Nettie McCormick funded construction of several of Tusculum’s historic structures, including Haynes Hall, Rankin Hall, Welty-Craig Hall, Virginia Hall and McCormick Hall, which is named after the McCormick family.
McCormick Day, now often informally called Nettie Day at the college, began as a day of cleaning the campus in reflection of Nettie McCormick’s insistence on clean living environments. The day has evolved to take on a more generalized community service emphasis.