Today’s article is the sixth in The Town and The Gown series highlighting the close relationship between Rhea County and Bryan College. Today’s article features 4 local directors from Bryan, Ralph Green, Brad Harris, Lebron Purser and Jeff Smith.
At Bryan College, the Board of Trustees is the governing body responsible for protecting the viability of the college and preparing for its future while ensuring that the school remains true to its founding mission. The trustees oversee the land, buildings, money and the school as an educational institution.
President Doug Mann has expressed his desire for the quorum to remain true to its mission, true to the scriptures, and true to its motto, “Christ First”. The Board of Directors has a major role to play in ensuring that Dr. Mann’s aspiration is met.
Since the start of the school, Rhea Countians have joined with people from all over the country as board members. The first chairman of the board was FE Robinson, the same community leader who helped start the Scopes Trial. Robinson served as the head of the board for 26 years. In her book, Legacy of Faith the Story of Bryan College, LaDonna Olson listed 10 Rhea Countians who served on the board in the 1930s.
Olson’s book, published in 1995, included many names from Rhea County that I recognized. If you’ve lived here for a very long time, you also know a few. Included were Bill Hollin, current County Commissioner, and deceased Chancellor Glenn Woodlee, longtime local lawyer in the 1900s; CP Swafford, People’s Advocate; Jack Robinson, industry leader; Ben Purser, banker; Rev. and Mrs. EB Arnold, pastor and merchant; John Cammenga, director of La-Z-Boy; Widney Brown, businessman, and Jim Abel, mayor of Dayton. These prominent members of the community were just a few of the many Earls of Rhea who served on the Bryan College Board of Trustees.
As I started to research local leadership in Bryan, I discovered that 6 local residents (pictured above) are currently board members. I had the opportunity to communicate with 4 of them to know their motivation to accept to become a member of the Council and their ideas to strengthen the city-dress relationship.
In my opinion, retired educator Ralph Green (my high school world history teacher), Bryan’s alumnus, and community leader was a natural fit for the Council. When we discussed the reasons why students should choose Bryan, he described Bryan as an “academically strong Christian school with scholarship opportunities, majors or desirable programs, and numerous volunteer service programs, at the same time. both national and foreign ”.
Engineering has been one of the biggest additions to college offerings since Ralph joined the board. His grandson will be part of Bryan’s Vogel School of Engineering’s first class in May 2022. Ralph called the opening of the Center for Leadership and Justice another significant change since 1993, when he joined the board of directors. ‘administration.
Brad Harris works with the University of Tennessee as an accounting and finance consultant in cities across the state. “When I was approached to serve on the board, it seemed like a great way to use my financial and accounting knowledge to serve Christ in my community. I cannot think of a better way to serve than to expand the capacity God has given me at such a historic and important institution. Brad is the father of Bryan’s sophomore. “As a Christian college, the worldview taught to Bryan is what Beth (his wife) and I wanted for our daughter,” he said.
For several years, Jeff Smith, owner of the region’s NAPA Auto Parts stores, had provided a businessman’s perspective at the President’s Roundtable. He was then invited to become a member of the board of directors. Neither alum nor parent of Bryan’s pupil, Jeff is however a Christian passionate about education in an “isolated environment of radical ideology.”
Lebron Purser, Regional Manager of Farm Bureau Insurance, began by telling me that his initial motivation to serve came from his awareness of the impact Bryan College has had on his life, especially Bryan’s graduate teachers.
Lebron’s words also expressed the sentiments I have heard from other people: “The quality of education is world class, but more importantly, the campus environment in which the students find themselves is. indeed a rarity in 2021. College campuses across the country are now strongholds of liberalism and frankly, ungodliness. Students who attend Bryan receive a Christian education in an environment where they do not have to worry about being demonized for their religious beliefs. Bryan’s faculty will challenge their spiritual journey as well as their academic progress! “
Everyone mentioned that Bryan has a strong cultural and sporting connection to Rhea County. They reminded me that Bryan invites the community to attend musical and theatrical performances at Rudd Chapel. The community is also invited to sporting events in the gymnasium and on the grounds. The school’s website https://www.bryan.edu has a current list of events.
As one would expect from any diligent administrator, donations have been listed as one of the ways Rhea Countians can support Bryan College. Jeff described the Bryan Opportunity Annual Dinner as “a great night of fun and a fabulous fundraising event that helps students who otherwise couldn’t attend Bryan”. Lebron said his family made “memorial gifts to honor those… who have become with the Lord. It helps create a legacy through a student who might not have had the chance to get a Bryan education. “
I have also learned that Earls Rhea can participate in Bryan’s annual year-end appeal, “Gifts for the King,” a major fundraiser for the Bryan Scholarship Fund that began in the 1940s. C it’s as easy as sending a check to Bryan College, 721 Bryan Drive, Dayton. (See the text box with the history of Gifts for the King.)
It is with a heart of gratitude that local residents gladly serve as the governing body that protects the health of the college. We have a vested interest in the success of the school. The county of Rhea is strengthened economically by the life of the college; county residents like to have members of the Bryan family as neighbors; and the county supports the fundamental premise of the school. The city and the dress share a strong bond.