Robert Reedy Bryan Society


In 1849, Robert Reedy Bryan and four other men gathered under an oak tree and discussed a desire to establish a Baptist college in East Tennessee. The meeting laid the groundwork for the future, and this group of men is forever etched in Carson-Newman lore as “The Oak Tree Five.” When Mossy Creek Missionary Baptist Seminary opened its doors in 1851, R.R. Bryan served as primary professor at the fledgling school, even designing its curriculum. 

However, within mere months, Bryan became the school’s second president following the untimely passing of President William Rogers. In 1852, he oversaw construction of the Seminary’s first building, located on the banks of Mossy Creek. The following year, he returned to teaching, specializing in natural sciences, a role he fulfilled for the next 13 years. Like many places, the College suffered in the years during and following the Civil War. In 1866, Bryan once again answered the call to serve as president. Now closed due to the war’s aftereffects, his second term required extensive fundraising and bold leadership to position the school for a future of possibilities waiting on the horizon. He stands as an example of one who devoted so much to the health and well-being of the College, regardless of the role and weight of the responsibility in which he was challenged.

Robert Reedy Bryan Society

Emblematic of the characteristics and example set by Bryan in his willingness to “stand in the gap” and invest his career in the service to and advancement of what is now Carson-Newman University, the Robert Reedy Bryan Society has been created. Each year, starting with this illustrious group, Carson-Newman will induct into the society retired faculty, staff and others whose dedicated and selfless service to Carson-Newman is exceptional, inspirational and meritorious. It is designed to honor those who have honored this University by answering the call to go above and beyond and through their actions and attitudes have raised the bar for us all.

Pictured left to right are Joe Bill Sloan, Frank Pinkerton, Mark Heinrich, Vickie Butler and Mary Phipps. The five fellows were the first to receive the prestigious award and be inducted into the Robert Reedy Bryan Society on May 6, 2022, during Spring Commencement.

List of Fellows

Vickie B. Butler

A 1976 graduate, Vickie Butler returned to her alma mater in 1989 to join Carson-Newman’s staff, becoming the first woman in the University’s development office, directing Alumni Relations. In her nine years as director, she expanded the alumni program, building a support core around those willing to give their time to Carson-Newman. She worked with all areas of the Advancement Division. Shortly after she was tapped as director of development, President Cordell Maddox asked her to lead the group on an interim basis in the summer of 1998. At various times in her Carson-Newman career Vickie served as assistant vice president for Advancement, associate vice president and even interim vice president twice. She was tasked with leading “For Such a Time as This,” capital campaign. She served as Advancement’s vice president and executive director of Alumni Relations and was co-founder of C-N’s Women of Vision organization. Over the course of 28 years, each time the institution looked to her for leadership, she responded. It was Vickie’s gift of connecting with constituents that brought her both joy and lasting relationships for C-N. She recalls how God’s perfect timing would take place while on donor visits.

“I found that often I would meet someone during a visit and see that it was a meaningful time for me to know them, and in a meaningful way, I would lead them to Carson-Newman in some fashion.”

Vickie easily traces her ability to cultivate relationships to her upbringing- particularly her grandparents. “It was seven words I learned to live by: People remember how you make them feel.”

Her approach to friendship-building continues to prove fruitful for the University. From Blye-Poteat Hall to Ted Russell Hall, from the completion of the fourth floor of Henderson Building to Greer House and The Chitwood Center at Hale Place, Butler’s fingerprints are on many of the University’s facilities due to relationships she fostered. Credited for being a tireless worker, she earned the R.R. Turner Spirit of the College Award in 2008.

“I enjoyed helping empower people to realize what they could do,” she said. “People might first have a preconceived notion that ‘I know I won’t be able to do anything of significance.’” But I like to think that after a visit from me that there was a door opened that showed them the possibilities of how they could be a philanthropist, and they could feel good about it.”

Butler says she wants to see Carson-Newman continue to build on the foundations others laid. She desires for the University to continue to educate students with excellence and have a presence in Jefferson City and the academic world. “I want us to continue to make history,” Vickie said. “That’s why I want to do my part in whatever way to help us thrive.”

Mark A. Heinrich

Dr. Mark Heinrich joined Carson-Newman in 1980 as assistant in the counseling center and director of the career planning office. Those would be the first of what would be numerous roles he would fill during the next 21 years at the University. He served the institution in myriad capacities, all while rising through the faculty ranks. In fact, when first reading the list of his various posts, one might assume it describes a full team of University employees. These include, but are not limited to, professor of psychology, director of Career Planning and Job Assistance, co-director of College Wide Assessment Program, Sneedville and Jellico College Extension coordinator, men’s tennis coach, director of New Student Orientation, chair of the psychology department, vice president for Academic Affairs, dean of instruction, dean of social sciences, dean of education, and associate provost.

When opportunities arose and visionary leadership was needed, the University often looked to Mark for insight. “I felt that wearing multiple hats kept the job fresh,” he said, in describing his approach. “In fact, I actively pursued additional opportunities that I was more than happy to take on. I liked the energy that I felt in myself that came with all of those roles. I wouldn’t do it any differently.”

From teaching and advising, to working in administration, Mark says he is thankful for each opportunity. It wasn’t just the quantity of work and positions he willingly took on, but it was the quality of leadership he demonstrated in each instance.

“I liked the challenges,” he admitted. “And fortunately I worked under people who trusted in me and [were] willing to let me run with things, which I really appreciated.”

Mark credits his time at Carson-Newman with reinforcing his understanding of characteristics that make one successful. “The best managers are those who not only have good managerial skills, but those who are concerned about others and not so focused on themselves. They have good character and a level of integrity that’s beyond reproach.”

Mark put this ethos into practice when collaborating with colleagues and teaching in the classroom.

“His attentiveness to each individual is remarkable, particularly considering the constraints on his time,” said one of his former students. “The most amazing thing about Dr. Heinrich is that he doesn’t set the standard, he continually goes beyond it.”

“I hope they viewed me as someone who cared deeply for them and for their future and that I wasn’t just there for a paycheck,” said Mark, who earned the University’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 2004. “It was really important for me to see my students do well in the future. I would do anything necessary to help them along that journey.”

Though retired, he continues to add to his list of Carson-Newman roles, most recently serving on the school’s Innovative Initiatives Committee and advising for the University’s new College of Professional Studies.

“I want to see Carson-Newman succeed,” he said. “I think the world needs Carson-Newman more now than I have ever seen before.”

Mary Phipps

Mary Phipps and her siblings learned the virtue of hard work from their parents. Growing up on Carson-Newman’s campus in the 1940s, they watched their mother and father do their part in the day-to-day operations of the school.  At a time when segregation was the norm, Mary recalls life on campus as a young girl.

“Although Carson-Newman wasn’t integrated and Blacks couldn’t go, I don’t ever remember being mistreated while on campus,” she said. “I wasn’t called any names. Students loved us and Carson-Newman loved my daddy.”

Her father served as the meatcutter on campus. With a wagon and a team of mules, he would also help female students transport their luggage from Swann Hall to the train station downtown. Her mother was a member of C-N’s housekeeping department. Having seen the example set before her, Mary followed in her mother’s footsteps, joining C-N’s staff at the age of 17. She worked for Kathleen Manley in the school’s infirmary before eventually moving to help maintain the school’s residence halls.

Generations of students have characterized Carson-Newman as feeling like “home.” Achieving such an atmosphere doesn’t just happen. It requires hard work, a sense of community, efforts behind the scenes, and a love for students who are away from their families. Mary did just that. She made sure that Carson-Newman was a place where students were taken care of well. She cleaned hallways, bathrooms and other areas of Swann, Burnett and Butler Halls. But for Mary, making students feel at home went beyond that. It wasn’t about color; it was about people.

She became a second mother to many, offering students advice and guidance. “I loved the girls because they were leaving their mothers for the first time,” she said. “Some didn’t know how to iron, or do nothing. I would be their mother. I would take their clothes home and iron them. If they wanted to talk to me about their troubles, they would come to me,” she said. “I would protect them because I had a daughter. I would take care of them.” It was a role she reflects on with great fondness.

Mary went on to serve in the President’s Home for 19 of her 41 years. With President and Mrs. Maddox, she developed a special relationship and a lasting friendship. From tending to the home, to being entrusted to help care for the Maddoxs’ children, she became one of the family. “They were truly good to me,” she recalled. “Dr. Maddox was a kind, good man, and I miss him.”

For Mary, time would prove sweet. Before her retirement in 1995, Mary saw her niece, Pat Crippins, become the first African American to graduate from Carson-Newman. She also saw her sister, Gladys Clay, become the first full-time African American professor at the University.

Though she has long since retired, Mary’s dedication to Carson-Newman, it’s students, her love of family, and a heart for people helped the school be more than a collection of classrooms and offices – but truly a home for many.

Frank H. Pinkerton

Dr. Frank Pinkerton’s presence in the classroom began with his own crash course at William Carey University. He had plenty of research experience, but when it came to teaching, the new educator possibly had as much to learn as his students.

“When I went to William Carey, I had never stood before a class and taught,” said Frank, adding that he had also never seen a college physics book or a biochemistry book. “You talk about green,” he laughed. “I was green – really green.”

He joined the chemistry faculty at Carson-Newman in 1978, attracted by a burgeoning science division. The green had faded, and a common thread developed. Whether as the school’s chemistry professor or as the women’s tennis coach, Frank wanted his Carson-Newman students to be prepared for the future – a goal more easily achievable through hard work.

As Lady Eagles tennis coach for nine seasons, Pinkerton’s teams compiled a 134-57 win-loss record and an outstanding .701 winning percentage. His teams captured eight straight NAIA District 24 titles, and he earned the NAIA District Coach of the Year in women’s tennis every year between 1982-86.

Each year the goal was to travel to Kansas City, Missouri, home to the NAIA National Women’s Tournament. To sweeten the trip, the team made it a point to stop at Tippin’s Restaurant while there for one of its famous cream or fruit pies. It was a trip they made eight times.

“It became our war cry as a team,” Frank recalled. “We’d say, ‘you can’t play like that and eat pie at the end of the year.’ It helped instead of browbeating them to use motivation through the stomach,” he laughed.

As delicious as Tippin’s pies were, the chemistry professor made sure that academics came first. Frank’s teams produced at least one Academic All-American each year he coached. The coach was known to even let players skip a practice if they needed to attend a lab or study for an important exam. He credits his student-athletes’ self-discipline for much of their success.

In the classroom, he challenged his students every day – particularly within the Health Professions Program, a curriculum he took over in 1990, the same year he earned the Distinguished Faculty Award. While cream pie was not involved in the motivation, the same level of intensity was there.

“I wanted that same kind of preparation academically, and just as competitive of a process, to gain admission to a health professions school,” said Frank, who, along with his colleagues, ensured their health professions students were fully prepared for medical schools and graduate programs.

He continues to relish the time he worked with his students, particularly in organic chemistry and watching what he called “their lightbulb coming on.”

But some of his most gratifying moments connected to his 33 years at C-N are hearing from those same students he challenged years earlier. “It means a lot when I’m talking to my students years later and hearing them say they were satisfied and fulfilled in their jobs and for making the right career choice.”

Joe Bill Sloan

The son of 1932 Carson-Newman graduates, Joe Bill Sloan grew up three blocks from campus. His dad, Albert Sloan, worked at the University for 40 years as professor of mathematics and CFO, so Mossy Creek not only served as a backdrop to Sloan’s childhood, but a centerpiece.

“That’s where I grew up. It’s in my DNA,” Joe Bill shared. “The seeds were sown by virtually living on campus as a child.”

He attended Jefferson Elementary School when it was located in C-N’s former Pedersen Nursing Building and later worked at Tallent’s Drug Store where The Creek restaurant is now housed in downtown Jefferson City. It was a job he held from age 13 until graduating from college. Joe Bill was truly a son of the community and a child of Carson-Newman.

It was a wonderful experience, and I learned a bit of a work ethic, although I never viewed it as work,” he said. “It was just fun.”

Like his two sisters, brother, mother, aunt, and wife, Brenda, Joe Bill graduated from Carson-Newman. The 1967 alumnus joined the faculty ranks soon after. In his years of teaching in the History and Political Science Department, he served as chair and later dean of the Social Sciences Division. He ensured that whatever role in which he served was done with excellence. Such excellence is hard to go unnoticed. The University awarded him the R.R. Turner Spirit of the College Award. For his work in the classroom, he earned the Distinguished Faculty Award, and is the only two-time recipient of the Outstanding Student Advisor Award.

In 2004, Joe Bill was asked to serve on Carson-Newman’s senior staff as associate provost. Three years later, just like R.R. Bryan, his alma mater looked to him again for leadership as he was selected to serve as interim president, a role he fulfilled before returning to do what he loved most – teaching. “I missed the daily contact with collegues and students,” he recalled. Though he appreciates the administrative opportunities, it was not where his heart was. “I did not want to retire as an administrator. I wanted to retire as a teacher.

“It was when I was teaching that I was the happiest,” he said. “It was when I felt the most productive. I enjoyed working with students, advising students and helping them get accepted to good jobs, law schools and graduate programs. I enjoyed seeing them develop from the beginning of their college career to the completion of it. That was very rewarding.”

Though he retired in 2010 after 40 years, he still reflects fondly on his past students. “I want my former students to remember me as someone who was challenging, approachable, knew the subject matter, and supported them and the goals they were setting for their lives,” he said. “I was extremely fortunate to spend my career at Carson-Newman. I was given opportunities there that were remarkable. I didn’t seek them, but they just occurred.

“The school is recognizing me, but in a turnabout way – I feel I’m the fortunate one.”

T. Maxfield Bahner

Max Bahner wakes up each morning before the sun. His thoughts and mind are churning long before many realize it’s a new day. And though his morning routine takes place some 150 miles from campus, Carson-Newman is very close to his heart.

“I wake up early and lie there in bed,” said Max. “I pray for the president, faculty and the students every morning. I pray the students will learn to seek God’s guidance in their lives, because that has made all the difference in this boy’s life.”

It’s just one example of what Carson-Newman and its community mean to the 1954 alumnus. Before he graduated from the University, Max Bahner grew up at the University. Often seen in and around Jefferson City, young Max Bahner’s path crossed with Carson-Newman thanks to his dad – Dr. Carl Tabb Bahner who joined the faculty in 1937. A C-N legend in his own right, Dr. Bahner taught and conducted research in the University’s chemistry department for nearly four decades. Even after retirement, he continued to keep lab hours. It was his commitment to Christian higher education, shared by Max’s mother, Catharine, that laid a Christ-centered foundation for Max. A family that read the Bible together, prayed together and sang hymns together, provided the backdrop Max needed to pursue God’s calling on his own life.

As a student on the banks of Mossy Creek, Max proved to be a true son of the liberal arts. A biology major, he fell in love with the world around him. He also discovered a love for literature. While he drank from the rivers of intellectuals, he continued to seek out God’s plan for his life.

Upon graduating at the age of 19, he attended seminary thinking he might pursue missions or the ministry, but after some prodding from his grandfather, he decided to enter law school at the University of Virginia. He left with a degree followed soon after by a new bride. “(Marrying Sara) is one of the greatest things that ever happened to me,” said Max.

He started at Duggan, McDonald and Kefauver law firm in Chattanooga, and joined Chambliss Law as a named partner in 1964. Throughout his successful and distinguished career of law practice, Max never forgot where his journey started. He remembered how his parents went above and beyond at the University, investing in the lives of students, particularly the Volunteer Band, a C-N organization for students interested in careers in missions.

That was why Max didn’t hesitate to accept the call when his alma mater asked him to first serve on its Board of Trustees in 1975. For more than 40 years, he has helped shepherd the University with knowledge and wisdom. His service supported five presidents. Max also chaired the board of trustees for multiple terms and continues to serves as trustee emeritus, helping Carson-Newman grow, thrive, build and expand its Christ-centered mission. Whether as the son of a faculty member, alumnus, donor or trustee, Max’s service to Carson-Newman has been meritorious and impactful. In typical Bahner-family fashion, he has gone above and beyond in service of his university and ultimately The Kingdom.

James L. Baumgardner (Posthumous)

“A walking file cabinet.” That is how, with a knowing smile, Dr. Jim Baumgardner’s daughter, Ellen Quarles, describes her dad. Any time Ellen’s daughter needed insight into historical events for a school assignment, she always knew who to turn to. Papa.

“World Wars, the Depression,” he would just rattle it all off,” said Ellen.

For five decades, Carson-Newman history students witnessed this same ability in the classroom. Governments, conflicts and treaties – they were all just a mental file folder away for Jim, a Bristol native, who graduated from C-N in 1959 and joined its faculty in 1964.

Teaching was a decision that could have easily gone in another direction for the U.S. Army veteran.

“It was like a fork in road,” said Ellen, who explained that her dad was called to the ministry, but with his military service, also was asked to join the National Security Agency.

To Carson-Newman’s great fortune, Jim chose education, and with him he also brought a heart for ministry, serving as a bivocational pastor to congregations in the region. His dedication was fierce in both areas.

Seeing that his children, Ellen and Mike, valued education was a priority. “He was super knowledgeable, said Ellen. “He would study and study, and I think he really wanted to empower people with knowledge.”

The professor took his classes seriously. He came to class prepared – and he expected the same of his students.

Ellen and Mike, both C-N alumni, tell of encounters they have with others when their father’s name comes up. “To this day, people will say ‘oh, you’re Dr. Baumgarder’s daughter, or Dr. Baumgardner’s son,” said Ellen. “Then we brace ourselves, because they either loved him or hated him,” she laughed. “There was no in between, because he was hard.”

But beneath any hardness was a “heart of gold,” according to Jim’s former student turned colleague, Dr. Kara Stooksbury. “He was incredibly generous to people,” said Stooksbury. “I think it was part of why he enjoyed being a pastor. He cared about people.”

This overlap of “teacher” and “preacher” served Jim well, as evidence when he was awarded The Distinguished Faculty Award, the “R.R. Turner Spirit of Carson-Newman Award” and Tennessee Baptist Convention’s “Bivocational Pastor of the Year.”

Whether lecturing in class, overseeing his department or chairing Faculty Council, his love for C-N and its community was second to none. It was like that all the way up until his passing in 2015 – a few days before the start of his 52nd year of teaching. The multi-faceted investment of his life into Carson-Newman was and remains an inspiration to all who knew him.

“I truly feel that Carson-Newman was a part of him,” reflected Ellen, noting how her father never missed a graduation. “Carson-Newman was truly a part of his identity.”

Jim hinted as much during a during a 2013 interview.

“I just enjoy coming home to the campus. I can’t describe the feeling just to be here,” he shared. “The only place I ever really wanted to teach was here. I love standing in front of the classroom. I love teaching…I stay because of the classroom.”

T. Edward Carter

One of Carson-Newman’s biggest ambassadors of both “love of place” and in stature, almost never was.

Blessed to be raised in a Christian home, Eddie Carter, knew that if it weren’t for the opportunity to play basketball for Carson-Newman, college might not have been in his future. He loved the game of basketball – and he was good at it. Though he stood at 6”7” upon graduating high school, he doubted if he had what it took to compete at the next level. It was after meeting with coaches and visiting campus, Eddie fell in love with Carson-Newman. He enrolled in the fall of 1974.

It was the birth of a storied relationship between a first-generation student from Oliver Springs, Tennessee, and a university he would call “home.”

Not only did Eddie start for the Eagles his freshman year, he scored 17 points in his first game. Doubts of competing in college quickly vanished. During his junior season, Eddie tied the school record of 22 rebounds in a game. His senior year he broke his own mark with a phenomenal 29 rebounds – a Carson-Newman single-game record that still stands.

His most memorable C-N moment didn’t happen on the court, but in Doughtery Science Building while cramming for an upcoming test. That’s where he met Vicky, whom he would eventually marry. Many years later, the couple watched as each of their three sons also earned Carson-Newman degrees.

After graduating from Carson-Newman, he returned to Oliver Springs High School to help lead their basketball program. After early success, he got the call to return to Mossy Creek.

“God was prodding me a little bit,” Eddie said. “(He was saying) this is where you need to be and what you need to do.”

As women’s head basketball coach, Eddie was able to combine his love of the game and his heart for serving Christ.

His desire to return the many blessings he received as a young man manifested in his relationships with players and colleagues.

“I was very blessed to be able to have some really great players and some good kids,” he said. “And hopefully I was a blessing to them.”

As head coach for the Lady Eagles, the five-time SAC Coach of the Year led his teams to five regular season conference championships and four national tournament appearances. But there is one statistic he is particularly proud of: every player who completed her eligibility during his tenure earned their degrees.

Serving as basketball coach was not his only role at C-N. He also coached Eagles track and field/cross country in the 1980s, as well as teaching such courses as driver’s education and fencing. Later in his tenure, Eddie was the University’s NCAA compliance officer and assistant director for internal operations. By the time he retired in 2021, he had served 20 years in coaching and 20 years in administration.

When asked his thoughts on Eddie, former Athletic Directors David Barger is quick to champion his colleague. “Eddie Carter is a man of strong faith, a man of absolute integrity, and a good friend.”

An accurate description of one of Carson-Newman University’s best friends.

Gladys S. Clay

Gladys Sheets Clay was born believing she held the deed to Carson-Newman. A little girl with a big presence, she was even named after the oldest sister of Dr. James T. Warren, the University’s 17th president. Growing up on campus, Gladys often played the role of her father’s shadow, following him closely as he served as porter and butcher for the school. In addition to her father John Sheets, her mother Gertrude also served Carson-Newman in housekeeping. It was from them that Gladys learned the importance of an education.

The self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl” watched how her parents played important roles in daily life on campus. She developed friendships, including a special bond with legendary coach Frosty Holt, who often would help Gladys secure enough cookies from the school cooks to get her through her day.

With such a connection to Carson-Newman, there was no question where she planned to attend college after graduating high school as valedictorian in 1957. That was when she learned the hard reality that her application was turned down – due to the color of her skin.

The sting and hurt were real. She pivoted, undeterred in seeking a college education. Though it was not what she wanted, she applied and attended Knoxville College, focused on becoming a teacher. She did just that, teaching Virginia and then Maryland. Over the course of her long career, she earned such accolades as “Teacher of the Year” and “Outstanding Educator.”

In 1990, she and her husband, George, returned to Jefferson City. Still desiring to help students, she applied to Carson-Newman for the position of instructor of Development Education and supervisor of the Tutoring Lab. She was hired, with the part-time position ultimately resulting in her being named director of the area. The promotion made her Carson-Newman’s first full-time, black faculty member. She had already enjoyed the sweetness of watching her niece, Pat Crippins become C-N’s first black graduate in 1968 and has since felt the joy of other family members following suit, including her daughter and granddaughter.

Many of the students Gladys worked with were athletes – and she loved them greatly. She took opportunities to instill in them the same value of education that her parents instilled in her. Sometimes it was tough love.

One day a particular troubled student was sent to her by a coach, with the request that she put the “fear of God in him.” After having a heart-to-heart talk, the student informed her he would not be coming back. To which Gladys replied. “That’s okay. See you tomorrow at 3:00.”

The student returned the next day. “At the end of the week,” she recalled, “he said to me, ‘I’ll see you Monday – Mom.’ And I’ve been “Mom” ever since.”

Over the years, through two different tenures, Gladys became “Mom” to many students. Supporting them during class and cheering for them on game day. Her devotion impacted countless students, both on and off the field, blazing a trail that continues to inspire students of color to dream big dreams and pursue them tenaciously.

“I loved my students,” said Gladys. “I loved every last one of them – whether black, white, green or yellow – it didn’t matter to me. They were my students.”

D. Ann Jones

Driving forces behind Ann Jones’ first journey to Carson-Newman were a love for music, a desire to teach and some encouragement from her church pastor.

“Our pastor in Johnson City, Dr. Cox, was a graduate of Carson-Newman,” recalled Ann. “The summer came around for me to go to college. Dr. Cox asked my dad where I was going to school. My dad said we haven’t given that a whole lot of thought. (Dr. Cox replied) ‘well, I’m going to see if we can work it out and you can go to Carson-Newman.”

She enrolled at C-N, bringing with her a passion for music and a desire to earn her degree, go to graduate school, and ultimately teach in a college classroom. The incoming freshman had an ambitious and focused plan.

As a C-N student Ann says she loved the comradery with the other musicians. “The faculty were excellent through those years,” she recalled. “I felt like I was prepared to go to Indiana University (to graduate school).”

After earning her master’s degree, her charted course led her to her first teaching job at Mississippi College, and then a return to Mossy Creek in 1965. The return allowed her to join her new husband, Charles “’Fessor” Jones, in Carson-Newman’s Music Department. He oversaw A Cappella Choir, and she taught voice.

The duo was able to travel together on A Cappella Choir tours across the South. “I loved traveling on the tours after we were married and being somewhat of a chaperon,” said Ann. Along with being chaperon, she helped contact alumni in areas the choir performed, as well as help recruit students.

A growing interest in choral music and conducting led to an opportunity to oversee Women Singers. Working with students in a choral setting was a special time that Ann remembers fondly.

“Those were good times,” Ann said. “And I think the students enjoyed it.

Her work and reputation with Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity and Carson-Newman’s Alpha Gamma chapter is legendary. Her involvement and leadership within the music fraternity presented students with opportunities and elevated Carson-Newman’s profile in music circles.

During her tenure, Carson-Newman’s chapter earned the fraternity’s Chapter of Excellence Award an astounding 49 consecutive years – more than any other chapter in the nation. She served as president of the international organization until her term ended – leading Delta Omicron to change its bylaws to allow her to ultimately serve 10 years at its helm.

When she retired, she left as the longest tenured faculty member, serving 52 years. In looking back on a remarkable career, Ann has no problem pointing to the source of her enjoyment. “It was teaching those students,” she said. “I love teaching. I love to see them excel.”

It was Ann’s desire to bring out the best in those she taught while building their self-esteem in the process. Seeing the results was always meaningful for her.

“It was always a blessing to me to see them cross the stage (at graduation),” she said. “That was good for me to see and hope they would check back in and let me know how they’re doing.”

And they do. Even in retirement, Ann still stays in contact with her former students, even welcoming them into her home to catching up on how they’re doing, where they are in life, and reminisce about music at Mossy Creek.

Jeanette D. Blazier

The call to leadership seems to naturally beckon Jeanette Blazier. It always has. And she never fails to accept the invitation. It’s not that the ’57 alumna is always looking for a challenge, though she doesn’t back away from one, but that when she sees a need, she wants to help build a bridge to meet it.

This is evident throughout her career — and even before. As a Carson-Newman student from Hamblen County, Jeanette loved being involved on campus. From being associate editor of the annual staff, to being elected as president of her senior class, the biology major seemed poised for big things.

Upon graduating, she married fellow classmate Kent Blazier and began a life journey that took her from teaching high school biology in Memphis and Greenville, South Carolina, to raising a family. But all the while, Carson-Newman remained close to her heart.

Taking an active role, she served as president of C-N’s Alumni Association – the first woman to do so. Her leadership was noticed and led to her being asked to serve as a member of Carson-Newman’s Board of Trustees by then-president, Dr. Cordell Maddox. This preceded her serving as chair of the board, again, the first woman to serve in such a role.

“I’ve been blessed to have many leadership opportunities throughout my life,” said Jeanette, who noted that she knew there would be challenges in stepping into such a role. “But, I felt like I was up for the challenge, and I was treated very respectfully. It was certainly a great, great honor.”

Over the years, the University proved to be the beneficiary of her steadfast leadership, wisdom and passion. Each time she was asked to serve, she accepted. Her phenomenal service on the Board of Trustees touches six decades and as many presidents.

Her involvement in many key university initiatives, including the decision to build the Student Activities Center and later name it after C-N’s 20th president, is something she will always treasure. According to the former board chair, seeing the Maddox Student Activities Center come to fruition was the culmination of several years of “thinking, wishing, planning and visioning.”

“I have continued to learn through the years that every president brings a new learning opportunity. Every year brings a new learning opportunity. It’s a fun place to serve.”

A former mayor of Kingsport, Tennessee, and recipient of multiple honors, Jeanette reflects fondly on her service to her beloved alma mater, calling it a true honor.

“Carson-Newman helped mold me. It gave me such a great foundation, and I will be eternally grateful for that.”

Rebecca J. Boatright

Becky Boatright loves people. That much is clear. Out of that compassion comes a desire to help and serve. That is easily seen throughout her 36 years of service to Carson-Newman University.

It was 1982 and the World’s Fair was a quick drive from campus, Carson-Newman’s 20th president, Dr. J. Cordell Maddox, was starting his fifth year, and the Eagles were one year away from winning their first national championship in football. According to Becky, it was also when a friend at church inquired if she might be interested in a position opening at Carson-Newman. She was. Just two years after starting in the mailroom, she was asked to serve in accounts payable. Her dedication and attention to detail was evident – and noticed.

A few years later she was asked to step into another role – payroll. The transition led her to play an even more significant part in the life of the University, as hundreds of employees relied on her to get paid — a responsibility she took seriously.

“My job kept me busy all the time. In fact, I would take things home to work on because I wanted to keep up, and I didn’t want to get behind,” she said.

Becky’s commitment to do her part in ensuring the University ran smoothly was unwavering. Her attention to detail and reliable work was second to none. She was asked in 2010 if she would serve as Human Resources coordinator. Never afraid to try something new, Becky accepted, once again willing to serve where there was a need – and to do so with excellence.

The Carson-Newman community recognized this. In 2013 she received the SOAR award – the highest honor presented to a staff member who exhibits passion for furthering the University’s mission, excellence, and a positive attitude.

“I was just so surprised,” she recalled. “I had no idea that I would get any kind of award.”

The honor was followed a year later when she was selected as recipient of the C-N Rebar All-Star Award for Excellence and Friendly Service. It was another example of appreciation for a job well done.

But for Becky, it was always about the people. Whether faculty or staff, it was the campus community that made the University truly special according to Becky, who even after retirement continues to help others while volunteering at Appalachian Ministries of the Smokies.

“It was a good experience for me,” she reflected. “The whole time I was there, I enjoyed it so much. The people make it worthwhile. I love Carson-Newman. You can’t help but love all the people.”

James A. Coppock

Jim Coppock states there is long list of folks who could have come before him as a Robert Reedy Bryan inductee. But serving on the faculty for 40 years, a lot of graduates from the business department did not make it across this stage without first making it through Jim’s classes. Usually more than once.

Himself an alum, Class of 1960, Jim Coppock’s path to — and through — Carson-Newman took a different direction. Saying he was not the best of students; he entered the U.S. Army immediately after high school before coming to Mossy Creek after his military career ended.

Even with the detour, Jim’s time at Carson-Newman impacted his life. Like many other former – and current students, it was here that Jim met his wife of more than 60 years, Martha. He calls his economics and accounting professor Joe Mack High the most important man in his life other than his own father.

He served two stints on the faculty at Carson-Newman; the first came right after graduation from 1961 through 1964. At the dawn of the age of computers, and with a young, growing family to support, he left Mossy Creek to work with IBM before being enticed to return by President Harley Fite in 1969. And here he stayed until his 2006 retirement.

Through his tenure at Mossy Creek, he served as chair of the Business Department for 11 years, was a member of the University’s strategic planning committee on multiple occasions and served as the faculty athletic representative for a year. In 2001 he was voted by his peers to receive the Distinguished Faculty Award and was nominated by fellow faculty member and previous Robert Reedy Bryan inductee Dr. Mark Heinrich to chair the University’s self-study project. To this day he serves as an officer in the faculty and staff retiree group.

Having him part of planning groups made sense. Jim’s strategic management class was one of the most sought-after and most impactful on his students. In fact, serving in various roles with area businesses allowed him to know what companies were searching for in new employees and bring that knowledge into the classroom.

Still, with his four decades of service, representing Carson-Newman on committees, boards, working with the business community and preparing tomorrow’s leaders, Jim said he was extremely fortunate to have his years at Mossy Creek and just wishes he had done it better than he did.

That statement is reflective of the mission of the group and one reason he is the third 2024 inductee of the Robert Reedy Bryan Society.

Carey R. Herring

Carey Herring began his Carson-Newman story with a game plan. It included playing football for the Eagles and, being the son of a reporter, studying for a career in journalism made sense. But as often occurs for college students – plans change. He never donned a football jersey and by his senior year, the Nashville native knew his career path was veering from that of his father’s. The change in direction would forever benefit hundreds of students and the university.

With the nation’s space program moving at full throttle, the 1965 graduate saw mathematics playing a key role in his future. While a graduate student, he landed a job in the defense industry for one semester, but he soon learned it wasn’t where his heart was.

A phone call from Carson-Newman’s Math Department about a teaching job opened the door for a return to Mossy Creek. The department needed someone to fill in for only one year. Carey accepted. And with that, former professors he admired became his colleagues.

One year became a few years. In year two, he was asked to serve as dean of students – again, for one year.

“I had no training in student personnel work,” Carey explained. “I never had any plans or interest to do that.”

Though somewhat reluctant, he accepted with the caveat that he would still be able to teach. After fulfilling his promise, he gladly returned full-time to the classroom. He had found his passion. For Carey, it was more than teaching mathematics, he wanted to be there for his students. Some days their questions concerned equations, and other days, life issues.

“I didn’t claim to have the solution to their problem, but I would listen if they needed a listening ear.”

His devotion to his work and students was noted and, in 1985, led to him receiving the Distinguished Faculty Award and moving through the faculty ranks. When he was asked to serve as chair. He did. When asked to serve as dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Carey, once again, agreed.

“On all of these occasions, they were things I really didn’t plan to do. I didn’t plan to be dean of students. But I was asked, and I thought, well maybe I can help. I didn’t plan to be a department chair or dean, but they asked, and so I thought, well, maybe I can help.”

And help he did. For 44 years he helped his alma mater become stronger, his students brighter and colleagues more enriched – deviating from a plan to teach for only one year.