category: Campus News

University forms search committees for presidential leadership

(August 17, 2018) JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman Board of Trustees Chair Harry Brooks announced the formation of two separate search committees as the University seeks a new president following the retirement of President J. Randall O’Brien, who will conclude his 10-year service in December. A Presidential Search Committee will be tasked with finding the institution’s 23rd president, while an Interim Presidential Search Committee will seek leadership for the office until a new president can be named.

Composed of 13 members, the Presidential Search Committee represents a cross section of the C-N community, including trustees, faculty, staff and alumni, along with student and community representation. Board Trustee David Ogle will serve as chair of the committee and lead the members in the University’s search.

The Interim Presidential Search Committee has eight members also with campus and board representation. It is chaired by Board Trustee Jeanette Blazier.

Presidential Search Committee:

Khya Allen– Student Representative. A senior, biochemistry pre-med major from Etowah, Allen is serving as the 2018-19 president of Baptist Collegiate Ministries. She is a member of North Etowah Baptist Church.

Harry Brooks– Chair of C-N’s Board of Trustees, Vice Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, Tennessee State Representative. A 1968 alumnus, Brooks has served the 19th District since 2002. He is a member of Union Baptist Church.

Bob Brown– Executive Director of Lakeway Christian Schools. Brown has served as pastor and interim pastor of several East Tennessee churches and has served in several roles for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. He is a member of First Baptist Church, Dandridge.

David Crutchley– Professor and Chair of C-N’s Religion Department. He has served as a teaching pastor and in interim pastorates since 1999. He has also served as a member of the Baptist World Alliance. He is a member of First Baptist Church, Dandridge.

Sheryl Gray– University Registrar, Secretary of the Presidential Search Committee. Gray joined Carson-Newman in 1987. Her roles have also included serving in the areas of Student Affairs and Admissions. She is currently vice president for Communication and Recognition for the Southern Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. She is a member of Lakeshore Road Baptist Church.

Tom Harmon– Board Trustee, retired. A 1968 alumnus, Harmon served for 33 years with DuPont before retiring. During his career with the company, he served in several roles including vice president – general manager for DuPont-Sabanci International, LLC. He was elected chair of C-N’s Board of Trustees in 2013 and 2014. He is a member of First Baptist Church, Dandridge.

Janet Hayes– Board Trustee, Shareholder of law firm Lewis, Thomason, King Krieg & Waldrop. A 1993 alumna, Hayes’ legal practice focuses on employment and appellate law. She served as the University’s Board Chair for 2015 and 2016. She is a member of Lyons Creek Baptist Church.

Caroline Keenan– Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Before joining C-N’s faculty in 2014, Keenan developed as a professional scientist in academic research labs in Germany and Philadelphia. She is a member of Faith Lutheran Church.

Tori Knight– Professor and Chair of C-N’s Business Department. Before arriving at C-N in 2000, Knight was senior economist at Triangle Economic Research. She is a member of Calvary Baptist Church, Alcoa.

David Ogle– Board Trustee, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, Real Estate Developer. Ogle is founder of Five Oaks Development Group. In 2008, he served as both chair of C-N’s Board of Trustees and chair of the Presidential Search Committee that brought President Randall O’Brien to the University. He is a member of First Baptist Church of Gatlinburg.

Sterling Owen, IV– retired. A 1967 alumnus, Owen served as Knoxville’s Chief of Police from 2004 until 2011. He currently serves as chair for the Former Agents of the FBI Foundation. He is a member of First Baptist Knoxville.

Ted Russell– retired. A 1962 C-N graduate, Russell’s career included owning Knoxville’s Ted Russell Automotive Group, which he sold in 2015. Russell served as chair of C-N’s Board in 2004 and 2005. He is a member of Sevier Heights Baptist Church.

Richard Wallace– Attorney for Wallace & Associates. A 1968 alumnus, Wallace has served as vice president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and member of the TBC’s Executive Board. He is a member of First Baptist Church of Sevierville.

Interim Presidential Search Committee:

Jeanette Blazier– former mayor of Kingsport, Chair of the Interim Presidential Search Committee. A 1957 alumna, Blazier served as executive director of Kingsport Tomorrow, Inc., before being elected as the city’s mayor, a position she held from 1999–2005. She also served as chair of C-N’s Board of Trustees from 1996-1998. She is a member of First Baptist Church, Kingsport.

Jeremy Buckner– Dean of C-N’s Adult & Graduate Studies. Buckner began his C-N tenure in 2008. His primary teaching field is music, specifically music education. He is a member of Grace Point Baptist Church.

• Eddie Carter– C-N assistant athletics director. Carter joined Carson-Newman in 1981, serving in roles that have included NCAA compliance officer, assistant athletics director for internal operations, and women’s head basketball coach. He is a member of Lebanon Baptist Church.

Kitty Coffey– Chair of C-N’s Family and Consumer Sciences Department. Coffey joined C-N’s faculty in 1977. Throughout her career, she has been recognized for her contributions to her field and oversees an FCS department that is the only private, religiously-affiliated department to earn accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of the AAFCS. She is a member of First United Methodist Church, Morristown.

Bob Gay II– financial advisor, Edward Jones. A member of C-N’s Board of Trustees, Gay is a 1972 alumnus of the University. He has served as a financial advisor for Edward Jones since 1980. He holds the professional designation AAMS from the College of Financial Planning. He is a member of First Baptist Church, Greeneville.

Jack Owenby– retired. A 1960 alumnus, Owenby is a member of C-N’s Board of Trustees. Throughout his career he served as both a hospital and school planner, and has over 50 years of experience in education at all levels. He is a member of Victory Baptist Church.

Hong Tjoa– Staff Noninvasive Cardiologist, Jefferson Heart Consultants, Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Tennova Healthcare Jefferson City. A member of C-N’s Board of Trustees, Tjoa has also served at the Lexington Clinic in Kentucky and St. John’s Clinic in Missouri. He is a member of First Baptist Church, Dandridge.

Angela Wood– Chair of C-N’s Nursing Department. Wood joined C-N’s faculty in 1993. Her clinical specialty is maternal-infant nursing and is certified as a High-Risk Perinatal Nurse and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. She is a member of Monte Vista Baptist Church.

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts university located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The University has over 2,500 students and offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. The institution’s website is

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