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New program offers gift of hope, redemption for Morgan County inmates

Carson-Newman University will soon be offering inmates at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) the opportunity to pursue a college degree.

“We truly believe in the power of a Christ-centered education,” said Dr. David Crutchley, dean of C-N’s School of Biblical and Theological Studies. “Carson-Newman’s mission is innovative and directed to helping our students reach their full potential.”

Slated for an August launch, the bachelor’s program allows inmates to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies with an emphasis in Ministry Studies. According to Crutchley, the opportunity offers more than a chance to earn a degree. For the University, it’s missional.

“The gift of hope and redemption is in the DNA of who we are,” said Crutchley. “That is what makes this new frontier so exciting, and we look forward to celebrating a fresh start with our new cohort of Carson-Newman students.”

The University has tapped Dr. Phil Young as director of the program. Young previously served as director of missions for Knox County Association of Baptists. Prior to that, he served as church missions and ministry specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. He received both the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Christian Studies major includes courses in biblical studies, church history, Christian doctrine, and pastoral ministry. Development in critical skills, research, and oral and written communication will equip those in the program for leadership in education, social work, and religious organizations.

The new offering is not the first connection between Carson-Newman and inmates of Morgan County. Visitors touring the now defunct Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary read how in 1965 Lake Russell, described as a reform-minded warden, former Carson-Newman football coach and 1925 alum, headed-up Brushy’s Inmate Education Program. Illiterate inmates were chosen by Russell to be taught within the program.

“Education plays a pivotal role in offender rehabilitation and this program is going to open doors and create opportunities for those who take advantage of it,” said Julia Gregg, principal at MCCX. “This partnership is one that is going to change lives for the better and help us [TDOC] achieve our overall mission.”

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