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President O’Brien to present Russell Bradley Jones lecture, March 5

Carson-Newman University President J. Randall O’Brien

(Feb. 27, 2015) – Carson-Newman University will present its annual Russell Bradley Jones lecture Thursday, March 5. The lecture, free and open to the public, will be held at First Baptist Church Jefferson City at 9:30 a.m.

This year’s speaker is Carson-Newman President J. Randall O’Brien. O’Brien’s lecture title is “Is There a Blueprint for a Christian University?”

“After several years in which faculty members gave the lecture focusing on the integration of faith and learning from their own sub-disciplinary perspectives, we thought it would be good for our president, Randall O’Brien, to offer his own bird’s eye view of what Christian higher education is all about,” explained Dr. Andrew Smith, the University’s Director of the Center for Baptist Studies. “I believe this lecture will make a genuine contribution to the growing literature on this topic and will help our students know what makes Carson-Newman distinctive.

Before his selection as Carson-Newman’s 22nd president, O’Brien served as executive vice president and provost at Baylor University. Other roles at the Waco, Texas institution included interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, professor and chair of the department of religion, acting dean of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary and executive assistant to the president.

He began his academic career at Arkansas’ Ouachita Baptist University, teaching religion there from 1980-1987. He moved to Little Rock as senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church before returning to the classroom with Baylor, where he received numerous teaching awards.

O’Brien is a noted author of four books, and has published more than 70 scholarly articles and entries for the Anchor Bible Dictionary, as well as for Eerdmans, Mercer and Holman encyclopedias.

A native of McComb, Mississippi, O’Brien is a graduate of Yale Divinity School, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Mississippi College. He has also served as pastor or interim pastor of 19 churches in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

He is a decorated military veteran who served with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. In that role 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.

He is married to Kay O’Brien.

The Russell Bradley Jones lecture honors a long time member of Carson-Newman’s faculty of the Department of Religion and has been an annual tradition for more than 50 years. Although the focus of the lecture has evolved over the decades, more recently the department has chosen a topic of increasing importance in Christian higher education: The integration of faith and learning.

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