category: Campus News

Carson-Newman President J. Randall O’Brien announces retirement

Carson-Newman President J. Randall O’Brien

(July, 16, 2018) JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman President J. Randall O’Brien has announced plans for retirement effective December 31, 2018. Chosen as president of the private, Christian liberal arts university on July 8, 2008, O’Brien has served Carson-Newman for ten years. The O’Briens will continue their service to the university through the fall semester as the Board of Trustees begin the work of finding their successor.

“Dr. O’Brien has done a phenomenal job,” said Rep. Harry Brooks, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and a 1968 alumnus. “He has been an enjoyable leader to work with. He is very bright and is able to see the larger picture.” Brooks also pointed to Kay’s service to the University as well. “Not only are we losing a fine president, but also a fine First Lady, who has had a huge impact on the campus. She has been just very influential.”

The chair explained that the Board’s next steps are to immediately begin working on the process of a search for a new president.

O’Brien and his wife Kay expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to serve the C-N family in a personal letter to trustees, current and retired faculty, staff, and the alumni board on Sunday, July 15. With gratitude first and foremost to God for the call to serve Carson-Newman, President O’Brien expressed deep appreciation “for the partnership and confidence of the Presidential Search Committee, the Board of Trustees, outstanding senior leadership, executive assistant Mrs. Libby Miller, dedicated faculty, staff, students,” and a host of constituencies who have worked for excellence during his tenure.

“He is truly one of the finest Christian leaders I’ve ever met,” said Dr. Ross Brummett, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs. “He has been a delight to work alongside him. We were very fortunate to be able to attract him and Kay 10 years ago. It was at a time we needed his style of leadership. It was a perfect fit – a God send.

Rev. Dean Haun, pastor of First Baptist Church of Morristown, past president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and current Board member, credits several qualities to O’Brien’s success. “He has always been an incredible communicator, an incredible builder and incredible encourager,” said Haun. “And I think when you mix those three ingredients together in his position as a university president, it’s quite powerful. The attendance records set at Carson-Newman are a great result of his leadership and what he has been able to accomplish.”

“Let us all march boldly into the future following Christ, while heeding the words of Scripture,” said O’Brien in the letter, quoting Proverbs 3.”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

“It is with full confidence in the providential guidance of God, that Kay and I announce our retirement from Carson-Newman University, effective December 31, 2018,” O’Brien continued. “We enthusiastically look forward to the approaching fall semester. Thank you for 10 beautiful years of joy! The future is bright for Carson-Newman. Let’s make this school year the best ever!”

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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