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Time capsule event marks Carson-Newman’s move to “University”

Sophomore Jessica Johnson speaks to students during Carson-Newman University’s Time Capsule Event.  Johnson was one of several students who placed items in the capsule to help commemorate Carson-Newman’s name change to “University.”

Sophomore Jessica Johnson speaks to students during Carson-Newman University’s Time Capsule Event. Johnson was one of several students who placed items in the capsule to help commemorate Carson-Newman’s name change to “University.”

The students of Carson-Newman College welcomed in “Carson-Newman University” Monday night — marking the historic name change by sealing a time capsule which will be buried for 100 years.

Student Government President Devin Gosnell told the students gathered in Gentry Auditorium that they were capturing a moment in Carson-Newman history: an institution on the cusp of change, frozen for future generations to unearth.

Submissions ranged from a football signed by C-N football coach Ken Sparks and placed in by Executive Vice President Kina Mallard, to a video of C-N students explaining who C-N is in 2013. Various campus groups and individual students placed objects, pictures and letters into the capsule. One graduate student filled two mason jars with the hopes and prayers of current students. Another made a scrapbook.

However, before the items began to fill the silver capsule bearing the seal of Carson-Newman College on one side and Carson-Newman University on the other, the school took a moment to look back.

The Carson-Newman story began on the banks of Mossy Creek with the “Oak Tree Five” and the name Mossy Creek Missionary Baptist Seminary. President Randall O’Brien walked students through their own history — through name changes and the eventual marriage of the men’s and women’s institutions to create Carson-Newman College.

Dr. Mallard explained what might have been in a time capsule in 1913 —100 years ago. In 1913, female students were asked to bring a full tea set with them to school, and only with permission from the school’s president could students visit with people outside the College.

Mallard’s description of 1913’s C-N showed the growth of the institution over 100 years, and hinted at the unending possibilities for one hundred years in the future.

C-N students Erin Cagle and Morgan Reaves performed the college hymn, reminding students that the ideals of truth, beauty and goodness has served the institution since 1851, and gave hope to the idea that it will for one hundred more years.

The filling of the time capsule was the beginning of a semester-long celebration of the institution’s transition to “University.”

The semester events, themed “Continuing our Pursuit of Excellence,” is being planned by five constituent campus groups that include students, staff, faculty, board of trustees, and alumni.

Overseen by Carson-Newman’s Student Government Association, the sealing of a time capsule was one that just made sense according to SGA president and C-N senior Devin Gosnell. “We want Carson-Newman University to know who Carson-Newman College was 100 years ago,” said Gosnell, who also noted that students are excited about the new name. “We understand how important this is in our school’s history, and we’re all very proud to be a part of it,” he said. “I truly believe there’s not been a better time to be a part of Carson-Newman.”

Other celebration events planned for this semester include a community tree planting, March 11; an unveiling of a permanent display, April 11; ribbon cutting and the distribution of commemorative coins, May 3; and alumni participation during Spring Commencement 2013.

February 11 is a significant date in Carson-Newman’s history. It is recorded that February 11, 1851, began a time of preparation for the beginning of the institution. The Baptist Educational Society of East Tennessee appointed William Rogers, C-N’s first president, and C.C. Tipton as financial agents, who were charged with raising funds for endowment and the completion of the school’s first building. The school held its first classes in September 1851.

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