JOHNSON CITY – Claire Hensley has distinguished herself with her leadership of Tusculum University’s Office of Student Affairs and her commitment to civic engagement, attributes that have resulted in her selection as one of the top young professionals in the region.
The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia selected Hensley, associate vice president of student affairs and retention, for its 40 Under Forty class for 2023. She and her classmates were honored Friday, Nov. 3, at an awards presentation event at the Johnson City Country Club. They will be featured in the December issue of the magazine.
“Claire is an extraordinarily impressive young professional who has strengthened our service to all of our students in a caring Christian environment,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president. “She has ensured that new students become acclimated to their new surroundings and feel welcome from the moment they arrive. She is also focused on providing returning students with the support network they need to succeed. Claire has excelled in every step of her career to this point. She deserves this award on her current qualities and achievements, and her future is exceedingly bright.”
The recognition touched Hensley, who is just 29.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve at Tusculum and help students enjoy a positive and comprehensive experience during their studies,” she said. “College is an important and beneficial time in a young person’s life, and I am fortunate to work with incredible professionals across the university to help our students achieve their dreams. I appreciate everyone who supported my nomination and thank The Business Journal for selecting me. I look forward to working further to equip our students to be career-ready professionals.”
Hensley has earned considerable respect and admiration from students, faculty and staff since she joined the Tusculum family in 2022. Many submitted support letters for her nomination.
Rachael Barnett, director of Student Support Services, a federally funded program that serves first-generation and low-income students, said Hensley has collaborated with her department by making referrals and personally walking students to the SSS office. Barnett also credits Hensley with increasing participation in the university’s Lantern Festival, where graduating students recognize classmates they believe will carry on the Tusculum tradition and honor faculty and staff members who have been particularly meaningful.
“Claire listens to Tusculum’s students,” Barnett said. “She has a keen awareness of their needs and works to address them. Claire connects with students from all backgrounds and makes it a priority for Student Affairs to provide students with proper assistance, mental health support and corrective direction. She has made incredible strides providing leadership development for the resident assistant program at Tusculum. The RAs receive quality training, team-building and support.”
Hensley mentored Tusculum student Lillian Armstrong while she was still in high school through the Tennessee Promise scholarship program. Armstrong said Hensley was excellent in sharing with her the breadth of support she would receive at Tusculum.
“Claire has not only lit up my world but also all the students at Tusculum,” Armstrong said. “She prides herself on doing the best she can for each and every student in order to make their time at Tusculum joyful and rewarding. Claire fully embodies what it means to be a mentor, whether that be through the Tennessee Promise or Tusculum University. She has greatly impacted me in the past year, and she will continue to impact myself and others in the future.”
Chuck Sutton, Tusculum’s dean of students, who works with Hensley in the Office of Student Affairs, called her a standout and described her as loyal, honest, considerate, supportive and hard-working.
“She is quite involved in the growth and leadership at Tusculum, including developing local partnerships, enhancing student life, collaborating, updating the processes of communication and policies, and educating and providing support and resources to increase student success and engagement with the university,” Sutton said. “Claire’s special skills also involve leading and challenging all to perform at a higher standard.”
In addition, Hensley receives rave reviews from Paige Mengel, executive director of the Greeneville Theatre Guild. The two first met when Hensley performed as a cast member in “Godspell,” and Mengel came away immediately impressed.
“Claire embodies qualities that are much desired by folks like me who work with volunteers for everything we do,” Mengel said. “She puts her all into whatever she’s doing, offering to help wherever she can, and I can trust that anything she does will be done well and timely. Besides being incredibly competent, Claire is a joy to work with on projects.”