category: Alumni

Carson-Newman alum to attend prestigious Army War College

Carson-Newman University’s Military Affairs Coordinator, Kelli Blanton, and Col. Michael Anders survey the progress on construction of the new Randall O’Brien Veterans Center, which is slated for completion this fall.

(July 01, 2019) JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — Recently appointed Colonel Michael Anders, a 1997 graduate of Carson-Newman University, has earned the prestigious honor of attending the Army War College in Pennsylvania.

Anders has spent his career serving in the Army, including deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He most recently served as chief of Army Readiness in the Operations Division of the Pentagon. He received his promotion to colonel in March and was then selected to attend the War College.

“It’s pretty significant,” he said during a visit to his alma mater with his family in June. “Not all colonels get to go to the Army War College. It’s basically a master’s level program that helps you become more of a strategic thinker and leader, to help you prepare for strategic roles within the Army.

He begins this month and will complete the coursework in a year. He hopes afterwards to be named to a brigade command position.

Anders came to Carson-Newman as a veteran, having entered the Army in 1988. He said the experience taught him the importance of getting an education as he saw how difficult it was for others struggling between field training and their classes.

He therefore left active duty in 1992, graduating from C-N with a major in leisure services in 1997. During his years at the University, he was a commuter student with a wife and children. He worked two jobs, took 16 credit hours a semester and served in the Army Reserves.

He was drawn to the smaller class sizes, majors offered and the Christian atmosphere. Anders said he also found the C-N ROTC Department the most willing to help him meet his educational goals and get scholarships. While the connection to the ROTC cadets and Army Reserves helped during that time, he said he wished he’d have had a better opportunity to connect with other veterans on campus — something that the University’s upcoming “Randall O’Brien Veterans Center” hopes to accomplish.

“We want to do all that we can to ease the transition into University life by providing a central resource center for both veterans and their families. The veteran center will serve as an area where veterans can fellowship and support one another,” Military Affairs Coordinator Kelli Blanton said. “As we’re finishing out construction and shifting our focus to furnishing, every donation we receive makes a difference toward our efforts to care for these deserving members of our C-N family.”

The center will house comfortable seating areas, study areas, a billiards table, a TV and other amenities for students, faculty and staff who are also veterans to meet, relax and socialize. It will open later this year.

“The veterans who are coming in now have experienced a lot,” Anders said, reflecting on the differences between his time in the Army before Carson-Newman, versus what young veterans today will have experienced serving overseas. “You need that place with people who have common experiences, shared experiences. Kids out of high school have no means, no baseline, to really relate with veterans that may have experienced things during deployment. I think having that place will do the veteran students really well.”

As for his advice to those incoming ROTC cadets and young veterans seeking an education and a future: “Character over competence,” he said. “The Army will teach you to be competent in a myriad of tasks. The thing that seems to get most people in trouble is the lack of character. That’s something that I appreciate about Carson-Newman. Its programs help build that character through Christian values.

Those who would like to support the veteran center’s development may donate at:

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts university located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The University has over 2,500 students and offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

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