Tusculum University’s Board of Trustees renews Dr. Scott Hummel’s contract as president for another four years

GREENEVILLETusculum University’s Board of Trustees has honored Dr. Scott Hummel for his stellar, mission-focused leadership, which has produced excellent results, by voting unanimously to renew his contract for another four years.

Dr. Scott Hummel

Dr. Scott Hummel

Dr. Hummel joined the Tusculum family on Presidents Day in 2020 and steered the university through the global coronavirus pandemic. He has also increased academic programs, built strong connections with students and the community and placed additional focus on the university’s standing as a faith-based institution.

“The Board of Trustees is delighted to renew Dr. Hummel’s contract for another four years,” said Dr. Greg Nelson, board chair. “We are extremely pleased with his dedication to Tusculum, its mission and its Christian values and appreciate the stability he has brought to the university. We are also impressed that his leadership has led to greater collaboration with the community. We look forward to continue working with Dr. Hummel on enrollment growth, with emphasis on first-generation students; the university’s financial strength; and our connections with the community.”

Dr. Hummel welcomes the opportunity to continue serving at Tusculum.

“I was honored to be named Tusculum University’s 29th president, and I am even more honored that the Board of Trustees has recognized our work and entrusted me with another four years of service,” Dr. Hummel said. “As a first-generation college student, I was attracted to Tusculum because of its outstanding service to all students, but especially those who are first-generation. In my four years, I have seen numerous who would not have succeeded without Tusculum’s personal approach and caring Christian environment but who are now thriving.

“Tusculum provides the environment where every student can succeed. Ultimately, I came to Tusculum because its mission is student-focused and transformative.”

Not long after Dr. Hummel’s arrival, Tusculum unveiled its new mission statement. The process of drafting it began before he came, but Dr. Hummel articulated the importance of the mission and the need for it to be a living and breathing statement of what Tusculum is achieving today and what it hopes to accomplish in the future. He reinforces the mission when he meets with new students, faculty and staff and incorporates it in speeches and other comments.

As soon as the coronavirus reached Tusculum and the region, Dr. Hummel took decisive action to protect the Tusculum family and ensure continuity in academic coursework so students would stay on track for graduation. Tusculum converted to online classes through the end of the spring 2020 semester, but Dr. Hummel quickly established a task force to develop plans for the return of in-person classes and on-campus living with comprehensive protocols for everyone’s safety. The Pioneer Pathway minimized the risk for infections while ensuring students experienced campus life as fully as possible.

Dr. Hummel has encouraged academic expansion at Tusculum. Since his arrival, Tusculum has added a Bachelor of Arts in arts outreach administration; a Bachelor of Arts in communication, with concentrations in theatre and arts outreach administration; a Bachelor of Science in sport science pre-physical therapy/occupational therapy; a Bachelor of Science in sport science pre-athletic training; a Bachelor of Arts in organizational training and performance management; and a Master of Arts in e-learning leadership.

Among other new programs are concentrations in historic tourism and museum studies for a history degree, industrial organization for psychology, museum studies for art and design and mathematics education for grades 6-10. The university also added minors in music, African-American studies and wilderness experience as well as a concentration in the associate degree roster for music.

In 2021, Tusculum reinstituted the Tusculum Band, which has since become a staple in campus life with concerts and performances at football and basketball games.

“Tusculum is an exceptional university, and we are always considering new programs that will benefit students and help them become career-ready professionals,” Dr. Hummel said. “The value of a Tusculum education lies not just in the name of the program but also in the manner we teach it. We focus on active and experiential learning, which supplements the knowledge imparted in the classroom with outstanding research opportunities, internships and multiple activities outdoors on campus. That teaching method benefits students greatly.”

Dr. Hummel has placed additional emphasis on the university’s spiritual underpinnings. He established weekly, voluntary chapel sessions during the academic year, a vespers service at Christmastime and Holy Week services leading to Easter and hired Dr. Chris Shumate as campus minister. He led two pilgrimages to the Holy Land, which have attracted students and staff, and he opened the door for three students to participate in an archaeological dig with biblical connections.

The president has grown Tusculum’s partnerships with local churches. Since his arrival, he has created an initiative for churches to adopt Tusculum’s 23 athletic teams. That means church members attend the team’s games to cheer the Pioneers, invite student-athletes to their services and provide a network of support. Churches also now serve lunch for all new Tusculum students on move-in day in August. In addition, Dr. Hummel hosts a luncheon for local ministers two times a year.

In 2023, Bible Keeper, a Christian website dedicated to helping followers of Jesus in their individual journey to eternal life, ranked Tusculum No. 1 in a listing of the best Christian colleges in Tennessee.

“We warmly welcome all students regardless of their faith, religion or belief system,” Dr. Hummel said. “We are committed to a student’s holistic development at Tusculum and will support them in a caring Christian environment. Our desire is to offer a space where students feel supported and know we are invested in their well-being and growth as individuals.”

It is not just church relationships that Dr. Hummel enhances. He places a premium on his and the university’s contacts with other parts of the community and is actively engaged with organizations such as the Greene County Partnership and the Noon Rotary Club of Greeneville. His goal is to build further friendships in the community so everyone understands the synergy that engenders. In 2022, the university produced an analysis that showed Tusculum has a $58.3 million annual economic impact on the region.

Dr. Hummel relishes the opportunity to interact with students. One of his favorite activities is to invite athletic teams and student groups to the President’s House for dinner. He also continued the new tradition of holding the Midnight Breakfast before finals to ensure students have a good meal during that stressful week. He is also a regular in the stands at games and attends other student-centric events on campus.

In addition, he regales in telling stories about his conversations with alumni from multiple decades. In particular, he shares with today’s students, faculty and staff about these alumni’s positive experiences at Tusculum and how the university has shaped their lives.

Communicating with faculty and staff members is also important to Dr. Hummel. He holds the President’s Coffee every month during the academic year to share what is happening at the university and honor a faculty or staff member who has gone the extra mile. Dr. Hummel is also known to periodically drop by people’s offices to visit with them.

Dr. Hummel came to Tusculum after serving for 12 years in leadership positions at William Carey University. Previously, he taught and served as chair of the Department of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries at LeTourneau University. He remains a professor at heart and teaches an Old Testament class at Tusculum.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in biblical studies from William Carey in 1987. He received a Master of Divinity in biblical languages in 1991 and his doctorate in biblical backgrounds and archeology in 1996, with both degrees coming from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He also studied at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University and, as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Dr. Hummel and his wife Starr, a science teacher at South Greene Middle School, have three grown daughters.