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Carson-Newman to open ‘Randall O’Brien Veterans Center’

Carson-Newman’s Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Ross Brummett (left) announces the establishment of the Randall O’Brien Veterans Center to the campus community. With Brummett, is President Randall and Kay O’Brien. The surprise December 4 announcement came following O’Brien’s final chapel address before his retirement at the end of the month.

(Dec. 5, 2018) JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — To better serve a growing student veteran population, Carson-Newman University will open the “Randall O’Brien Veterans Center” in 2019.

An announcement surprising O’Brien with plans to develop the center came Tuesday following his final chapel address as University president before his Dec. 31 retirement.

The center, which will be located on the first floor of Baker Building, adjacent to ROTC, will provide space for students, faculty and staff who are also veterans to meet, relax and socialize. It will house study areas, a kitchenette, comfortable seating and a billiards table.

The overarching mission of the center is to serve those who have served by easing the transition from military to campus life; fostering a community of past, present and future veterans; raising awareness of veteran issues on campus; and supporting student veterans through graduation and into meaningful careers as servant-leaders,” according to Tracy Davidson, who served as the University’s initial military affairs coordinator. Davidson, along with Senior Vice-President for Student Affairs Dr. Ross Brummett, Director of Physical Plant and Construction Manager Ondes Webster, and Vice-President and Business Marty Chambers, played a vital role in envisioning how a wing of the first floor of Baker might be renovated to create space for this much needed area.

Faculty, staff, alumni and friends who would like to support the center’s development may donate at: cn.edu/veterancenter

Once the center is complete, the C-N Veterans Club will manage its daily operations under Kelly Blanton, who will be taking over for Davidson.

In addition to serving the University’s student veteran population, Davidson said inspiration for the center — and its naming — came from “our love, admiration and respect for Dr. O’Brien and our desire to honor his heroic and dedicated service to our nation, our community and our university.”

O’Brien served with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He received, among other decorations, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the United States Air Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross and the Bronze Star.

Elements honoring University members’ military service will include a mannequin bust displaying a replica of O’Brien’s Army jacket with awards and insignia, a glass-encased table with Vietnam-era memorabilia, and a custom-made coffee bar that will highlight unit patches collected from the University’s veterans.

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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