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Carson-Newman graduates over 100 during Winter Commencement

Campus News | December 13, 2013

Jefferson City native Logan Hester, left, receives his Bachelor of Arts degree from Carson-Newman President Randall O’Brien.

(Dec. 13, 2013) — While Dr. James Baumgardner wished only the best for those participating in Carson-Newman University’s Winter Undergraduate Commencement on Dec. 13, he challenged graduates to question what makes a good life.

The Carson-Newman professor of history has taught at the University for 50 years, meaning much of what makes his syllabus, he experienced firsthand. He has also witnessed over 100 hundred Carson-Newman graduation ceremonies.

During Friday’s Undergraduate Commencement he drew from some of that experience to provide both a message of hope and admonition for Carson-Newman’s celebrants.

“What will it take for you live a good life?” he asked. “That is a question each of you must answer as life begins to unfold.”

He warned that he has watched the America change from “we” first people, to a “me” first society.

“Individuals must be willing to sacrifice their personal interests for the good of the community,” the professor said. “The greatest fear of our founding fathers centered on whether the ordinary citizen indeed possesses that civic virtue.”

Baumgardner challenged the audience to reject the current selfish culture and instead look to the Bible for instruction on how to live a good life.

He closed with Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Baumgardner began teaching in the History Department at Carson-Newman in 1964 and holds the distinction of being the longest faculty member in continuous service. He is a 1959 alumnus and bi-vocational pastor.

Baumgardner received his Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Dr. Sharon Teets delivered the Graduate Commencement address Thursday evening at Jefferson City’s First Baptist Church.

She serves as chair of Carson-Newman’s Education Department and teaches both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She is a lifetime member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and serves as the chief institutional representative for the Tennessee Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the Association for Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education.

Teets receiver her Bachelor of Science degree from West Virginia University, her Master of Science from the University of Tennessee and her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

More than 75 undergraduates and some 30 graduates participated in commencement ceremonies.