category: Campus News

Carson-Newman to celebrate graduation at Gatlinburg Convention Center

Carson-Newman University will hold Spring Commencement ceremonies May 7 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, located at 234 Historic Nature Trail in Gatlinburg.

(April 9, 2021) JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — Carson-Newman University’s Spring Commencement ceremonies will take place May 7 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

Dr. Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, will address students during the 10 a.m. undergraduate ceremony and the 4 p.m. graduate ceremony.

Chitwood was elected president of the IMB, a missionary society of the Southern Baptist Convention, in November 2018. He previously had served as executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention since 2011. For 18 years prior to that, Chitwood served as the pastor of local churches of varying sizes in Kentucky. During his pastorates, he served as an IMB trustee from 2002-2010, including two years as chairman.


Dr. Paul Chitwood

A native of Jellico, Chitwood is a graduate of Cumberland College and earned the Master of Divinity and Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Paul Chitwood join us as president of the International Mission Board,” University Provost Jeremy J. Buckner said. “As an affiliate of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, Carson-Newman provides students with a Christ-centered education, preparing them to go forth as educated servant-leaders.

“As always, our commencement ceremonies first and foremost celebrate our graduates’ triumph in obtaining this milestone in their academic careers,” Buckner added. “It is with additional joy that our celebration takes place in Gatlinburg, which has such strong ties to our great University’s Appalachian heritage.”

Carson-Newman has put into place several requirements for the event to meet COVID-19 guidelines, including requiring face coverings, temperature checks upon entry and social distancing. Graduates will receive a limited number of tickets for guests to ensure social distancing between family groups.

“It is important for us at Carson-Newman to celebrate as a community in person for this Spring Commencement ceremony,” Buckner said. “Our students and faculty made significant adaptation this year in our approach to education. Likewise, around campus, on the field and in the residence halls, staff found creative ways to engage in sporting, social and residence life activities safely. Sharing life together in community and in real presence with each other is critical and foundational to our liberal arts-based education and cannot be undervalued.

Those unable to attend will be able to view the ceremony on the University’s livestream at:

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and celebrated a record 2,900 students in the fall. Carson-Newman offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

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