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Five inducted into Robert Reedy Bryan Society during Spring Commencement

The second class of Robert Reedy Bryan Society Fellows are (left to right) T. Maxfield Bahner, Dr. James L. Baumgardner (posthumous), T. Edward Carter, Gladys S. Clay, and D. Ann Jones.

Carson-Newman University welcomed five inductees into the second class of the Robert Reedy Bryan Society. The recognition took place during C-N’s May 5 Spring Undergraduate Commencement featuring more than 330 graduates.

Those honored were Maxfield Bahner, Dr. James Baumgardner (posthumous), Edward Carter, Gladys Clay and Ann Jones. Named after the University’s second president, the society honors the dedicated and selfless service of retired faculty, staff and others whose service to the University is exceptional and meritorious.

“It is truly an honor to recognize this year’s Robert Reedy Bryan Fellows,” said University President Charles A. Fowler. “Each has a unique story that tells of their love for Carson-Newman, its students and its Christ-centered mission. They represent the heart of our university. It is my hope that our graduates are inspired by these servant-leaders who represent the very best of what we hope our graduates aspire to become.”

Click here to read their stories.

T. Maxfield Bahner
Before Max Bahner graduated from Carson-Newman in 1954, he grew up at the University. His path crossed with Carson-Newman thanks to his dad – Dr. Carl Tabb Bahner, who taught on campus. It was his commitment to Christian higher education, shared by Max’s mother, Catharine, that laid a Christ-centered foundation for Max and provided the backdrop Max needed to pursue God’s calling on his own life. Throughout his successful and distinguished career of law practice, Max never forgot where his journey started. That was why Max didn’t hesitate to accept the call to serve on C-N’s Board of Trustees. For more than 40 years, he has helped shepherd the University with knowledge and wisdom. Whether as the son of a faculty member, alumnus, donor, Trustee or now Trustee Emeritus, Max’s service to Carson-Newman has been meritorious and impactful.

James L. Baumgardner (Posthumous)
For five decades, Carson-Newman history students witnessed Dr. Jim Baumgardner’s impressive ability to dive deep into world governments and world wars without having to rely on a textbook. The professor took instruction seriously. He came to class prepared – and he expected the same of his students. A 1959 C-N graduate, the Bristol native joined C-N’s faculty in 1964 and taught devotedly until his passing in 2015. His heart for teaching was only matched by his calling to also serve as a bivocational pastor to congregations in the region. This overlap of “teacher” and “preacher” served Jim well, evidenced by earning The Distinguished Faculty Award, the “R.R. Turner Spirit of Carson-Newman Award” and Tennessee Baptist Convention’s “Bivocational Pastor of the Year.” The multi-faceted investment of his life into Carson-Newman was and remains an inspiration to all who knew him.

T. Edward Carter
Eddie Carter knew if not for the opportunity to play basketball for Carson-Newman, college might not have been in his future. The Oliver Springs native loved the game of basketball – and he was good at it. The 1979 alumnus continues to hold Carson-Newman’s single-game record for rebounds. He ultimately returned to his alma mater as women’s head basketball coach, where he combined his love of the game and his heart for serving Christ. Along with serving as basketball coach, he also coached Eagles track and field/cross country in the 1980s, as well as teaching such courses as driver’s education and fencing in the classroom. Later in his tenure, he was the University’s NCAA compliance officer and assistant director for internal operations. By the time he retired in 2021, he had served 20 years in coaching and 20 years in administration.

Gladys S. Clay
Gladys Clay became Carson-Newman’s first full-time black faculty member in the early 90s when she was named director of the Tutoring Lab. With ties to C-N dating to childhood, Gladys became “Mom” to many student-athletes over the years, supporting them personally and academically in her role running the Tutoring Lab. She knew the power of an education and worked to instill the same appreciation in her students. Her work with student-athletes, especially football and basketball players, led her to becoming a fixture on the sidelines and in the stands, even being asked to stand with players on Senior Night. Gladys’ time at Carson-Newman impacted countless students, both on and off the field, blazing a trail that continues to inspire students of color to dream big dreams and pursue them tenaciously. Her service paved the way for those following in her footsteps that still impact our beloved University today.

D. Ann Jones
Ann Jones first came to Carson-Newman as a student in the 1950s to pursue a degree in music. She left years later as the longest tenured faculty member after serving 52 years. Her passion for music led her to earn a graduate degree before returning to Carson-Newman in 1965, where she taught vocal students alongside her husband, A Cappella Choir director Charles Jones. The duo traveled together on A Cappella Choir tours, connecting with alumni and recruiting potential students. Ann’s leadership led to an astounding 49 consecutive Chapter of Excellence Award wins for Alpha Gamma, C-N’s Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity chapter – more than any other in the nation. Her leadership within the music fraternity elevated Carson-Newman’s profile in music circles. She credits her five decades of teaching to one thing – the students. Her investment in them shaped generations and her legacy is reflected in them.

The society is named for Robert Reedy Bryan, who in 1849 joined four other men under an oak tree and discussed the need for a Baptist college in East Tennessee. His vision, along with that of the other four, forever etched them into Carson-Newman lore as “The Oak Tree Five.” Bryan served as primary professor of what began as Mossy Creek Missionary Baptist Seminary, as well as its second and sixth president. He provided extensive fundraising and bold leadership to the school devastated by the Civil War.

C-N Spring Commencement 2023 Highlights

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