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C-N's Center for Community Engagement to be focus of Women of Vision Homecoming showcase

Campus News | October 11, 2021

Click for info. on Homecoming 2021

Carson-Newman’s Women of Vision (WOV) organization will showcase the renovation of a new space within C-N’s Center for Community Engagement in honor of Sandy Presley as part of the University’s homecoming activities Saturday, Oct. 30.

The Osborne Common Room is named for Dr. Larry Osborne, longtime psychology professor and founder of Carson-Newman’s Master of Arts in Social Entrepreneurship program. It will be used as a common room, but also a classroom and meeting space for both students and community partners.

“We wanted to make that space more flexible for people to use,” said Dr. Matt Bryant Cheney, director for the Center for Community Engagement. “We really want to make our center a hub of community for the campus and area. When you have nicer, updated things it makes people feel seen and appreciated, allowing us to achieve our mission more effectively.”

The Center for Community Engagement empowers students to become active members of their communities, mindful servant-leaders, and dedicated agents of social change.

The common room hosts everything from study groups, to local farmers dropping off products to be picked up, to art projects, to classes and more. Bryant Cheney said the room is likely the most used in the building.

“We’re deeply grateful for Women of Vision and their willingness to come alongside us and improve our building,” Bryant Cheney said. “I’m already really proud of the work we can do, but having that space really upgrades what we can do with our students and community partners.

The foundational Women of Vision mission is to support the Carson-Newman experience by nurturing truth, enhancing beauty and enriching goodness.

The showcase will honor Sandy (Simpson) Presley, a Carson-Newman graduate and beloved member of WOV who passed away in May 2020. Presley was the project manager for the 2018 renovation of the lounge and kitchen area of the Center for Community Engagement.

“Sandy took so much care and attention to detail to make sure everything was right,” Bryant Cheney said. “When she first came here she brought her little dog and immediately started connecting with our students. She had really become one of us.”

That area is to be named the Presley Service Lounge, in honor of Presley’s dedication to Carson-Newman.

“There really is no way to quantify her contributions, but it’s a small way to recognize her legacy and love for Carson-Newman,” WOV member Kathy May said. “Just to know that will hopefully be reflected in everything that is done there, and people will realize someone had such a love for Carson-Newman and wanted to improve the space and make it as beautiful as it could be.”

May was the project manager for the Osborne Common Room, working alongside interior designer and WOV member Allison Pelham to make the space pleasing and functional. She said it was rewarding to be involved in something honoring her late friend who served with no expectation of anything in return.

“She was a very special person with a great love for Carson-Newman, as well as a great friend of mine,” May said. “I told her this several times—I’m positive she did so much more for people than we will ever know.”

The common room’s upgrades include fresh paint, rolling desks and chairs, a large touchscreen display, a large dry-erase board and more. May and Bryant Cheney agreed sparse furniture and outdated fixtures made the need for improvements obvious.

“Our students have a lot going on in our lives, and this is now a welcoming space where they can feel seen,” Bryant Cheney said. “It gives them a renewed sense of purpose and a feeling of support—they know someone cared enough to create a place for them.”

The showcase will take place from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the downstairs of the Center for Community Engagement, formerly known as the Bonner Center, at the intersection of Russell Avenue and E. King Street.

Carson-Newman will celebrate Homecoming 2021 on Saturday, Oct. 30. Events are planned throughout the week.