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C-N celebrates opening of Drama and Ted Russell Center

Some 400 guests celebrated the opening of Carson-Newman University’s Ted and Drama Russell Center with an Aug. 8 ribbon cutting ceremony. Pictured left to right are: Robert Key (C-N); David Reynolds (Home Federal); Brian Norris (Home Federal); Doug Kennedy (Johnson & Galyon); Dr. Hong Tjoa (Chair, C-N Board of Trustees); Dawn Varnedoe (Russell Foundation); Dr. Ted Russell; Drama Russell, C-N President Charles A.Fowler; Arlisa Armstrong (USDA), Chris Hampton (USDA), Kirk Morris (USDA); Megan Chafin (BarberMcMurry); Ondes Webster (C-N).

Carson-Newman University officially opened the doors to its first new academic building in over a decade this morning. Hundreds gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Drama and Ted Russell Center, home to the University’s School of Health Sciences. Along with a ribbon cutting, guests took part in self-guided tours of the facility.

“What a wonderful day in the life of our University,” said Carson-Newman President Charles A. Fowler, following the day’s event. “Celebrating this significant new chapter of health sciences at Carson-Newman with family and friends truly makes it special. We are excited for what God’s going to do within these walls as our outstanding faculty and students experience one of the region’s premier educational facilities devoted to preparing servant-leaders for the healthcare field.”

Located on North College Street and Branner Avenue, the center honors Knoxville’s Drama Russell and her husband Ted, a 1962 C-N alumnus and a 2010 recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration.

The state-of-the-art facility serves as the new home for C-N’s nursing program and consists of three levels spanning 48,000 square feet. The center includes classroom space, simulation labs, health assessment labs, general skills labs as well as classrooms that are equipped to foster educational instruction marked by Christ-centered excellence.

In addition to nursing, the Drama and Ted Russell Center will be home to Exercise Science. Looking to the future, there will be more exciting academic programs announced that will showcase C-N’s commitment to excellence in healthcare education as well as a desire to infuse the healthcare communities in the region with outstanding graduates who will serve well as an expression of the C-N Mission.

Enhancing the student experience, the building also features food service area, The Garden Bistro, multiple student lounges, collaboration areas, as well as a covered outdoor terrace. For the project planning and construction, the University with Knoxville’s BarberMcMurry Architects and Johnson & Galyon Construction.

The Drama and Ted Russell Center is the first project launched as part of the University’s Acorns to Oaks 5-year strategic plan. The plan consists of new academic programs, expanded athletic offerings, new and renovated facilities, enrollment growth, and greater missional alignment.

Opening of the Drama and Ted Russell Center comes on the heels of the University’s April groundbreaking of West Campus Commons. The largest construction project in C-N’s history, the residence life complex is slated to welcome students in Fall 2024.

Video highlights from the grand opening of the Drama and Ted Russell Center on Aug. 8, 2023.

Dr. Ted Russell, 1962 alumnus and 2010 recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration:

“It proves so much that if we trust in the Lord, and it’s His will, it will come true. All I had thought of was of a little rectangular building and some new equipment. I never dreamed God was going to do something this great – and it’s wonderful. It is a time to rejoice.”

Dr. Hong Tjoa, Carson-Newman Board of Trustees chair:

“As a physician in this community, I can foresee the incredible impact of health professionals educated and trained in this spectacular new facility on the lives of people not only in this community but also throughout our state and beyond. Because of C-N’s Christ-centered mission, the Drama and Ted Russell Center will help ready new generations of Christlike health professionals who will always serve with excellence in the communities where they are planted.”

Dr. Jeremy J. Buckner, University provost:

“I am excited for the new learning and collaborating opportunities the Drama and Ted Russell Center will bring. This new building inspired faculty and administration to think of academic space that would foster student engagement, provide faculty new classroom infrastructure for better use of technology, and will enhance the learning experience for our nursing students.” 


Dr. Beau Christian, assistant nursing department chair and simulation director:

“The new state-of-the-art facility offers an unprecedented learning environment, providing access to cutting-edge technology and innovative teaching methods. We are able to stay at the forefront of healthcare education, ensuring that the best training is provided.” 

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