Difference Makers: Zac ’01 and Toks (Olowola) ‘04 Brown

November 17, 2017 – Major: Mathematics: Secondary Education (Zac) and Mathematics: Computer Science (Toks)

Dr. Zac Brown ‘01 and his wife, Toks (Olowola) Brown ’04, are shining examples of Bryan Difference Makers. They met at college, both deeply involved in campus life and ministry, and married in 2004. Their career paths since graduation have been a testimony to the Lord’s provision and direction.

Zac’s career journey reveals his heart for serving students who do not have a strong support system, and his inspiring personality encourages all those he comes in contact with to achieve more than they may have ever deemed possible. After earning a B.S. in mathematics from Bryan, his career in education began with a position as a mathematics teacher and wrestling coach at Rhea County High School. Since then, he has served as principal at East Ridge High School, executive principal at Howard High School, and assistant superintendent of operations for Hamilton County Schools. He earned his Master of Arts in instructional leadership from Tennessee Technological University and a Master of Arts in mathematics education (5-12) from Western Governors University. In August 2017 Zac earned his Doctor of Education in Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University.

According to his bio from the Hamilton Country Department of Education, “During his three years at The Howard School, Brown increased the graduation rate, created an English as a Second Language program, increased the enrollment by over 200 students, and transitioned the school to a 1:1 (one student, one device) technology school.” He has also helped to build a mentoring and leadership program between The Howard School and the Lookout Mountain Conservancy, a partnership empowering students to gain leadership, academic, social, and conservation skills and aid them in post-high-school job placement. Zac is currently the director of secondary opportunity schools for Hamilton County Schools.

After her graduation from Bryan in 2004 with a B.S. in mathematics, Toks served as Bryan’s director of human resources while working toward her MBA from the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga. The Lord then led her to a position with the Social Security Administration, where her career has remained ever since – first as a social insurance representative and now as a claims specialist. Here Toks has received yearly awards for her work, which includes settling matters related to retirement, disability, Medicare, and Medicaid. Her heart for others shines through in both her career path and the many ways that she has been involved in volunteer work over the years.

The Browns have been married for over 13 years now and have precious young twin daughters, Isabella and Julianna. They currently reside in Ooltewah, Tenn., and are members at Silverdale Baptist Church.


Don Reed ’63 Offers Financial Services as Generosity Advisor

Don ReedNovember 16, 2017 – Recently Bryan alumnus Dr. Don Reed ’63 has officially assumed the role of generosity advisor for the college. He tells potential clients, “As our paths may cross on campus or in your area, I look forward to conversations about our common heritage through Bryan and the opportunity to invest in the future generations of students who seek the Bryan experience.”

With an extensive background in ministry, banking, donor development, and estate design, Reed is uniquely qualified to offer financial consulting service to the Bryan College family, from alumni to friends of the college.

After graduating from high school at 16, he was introduced to the field of banking. His employer invited him to take advantage of resources provided by the American Institute of Banking to earn college credits, starting with night courses at the University of Buffalo. This was only the beginning of Reed’s journey. At the bank he spent a year and a half developing his customer service and financial skills at a teller’s window, working with “people from the entire range of socioeconomic wealth.” The bank promoted him to the position of junior loan officer by age 18.

Reed had planned on attending a Bible school in New York, but through several conversations he was introduced to Bryan College. “Less than a month later, I found myself in Tennessee entering the Bryan experience. This was another one of God’s good surprises, showing me His plan,” said Reed. At Bryan he was challenged to integrate education with the Bible.

Following his graduation from Bryan with a B.A. in Greek in 1963, Reed kept pursuing higher learning to answer God’s call on his life toward ministry. This included a Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Master of Christian Education from North American Baptist Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from Bethel Theological Seminary. During that time the Lord called him to embark on a 43-year career in local church ministry. Here he experienced church staff ministry, church planting, senior pastorate, and regional oversight of 75 churches in northern California.

Now having finished that full-time ministry work, Don Reed and his wife, Rae (also from the class of ‘63), are deeply involved with volunteer work: a road that has led back to Bryan College! He said, “Part of the joy in volunteering presently is our work with Bryan. In the later years of local church work, I also took training in major donor development and estate design. The Bryan development staff has graciously provided opportunity to serve in these areas from our current remote location in Arkansas. Periodic visits to the Bryan campus allow contact with individuals for conversations about generosity and Kingdom investment. Other conversations take place through phone calls, emails, etc. This service is one way in which we can repay in part what others did for us to allow us to attend Bryan.”

Written by Chloe Ann Townsend ’13, advancement writer and editor.


College Choice Places Bryan #11 in “Best Online Colleges in Tennessee”

November 1, 2017 – A recent ranking released by College Choice placed Bryan College #11 in “Best Online Colleges in Tennessee,” outranking competitors such as Tennessee Wesleyan University, Lee University, and East Tennessee State University.

“Online degree tracks, which often don’t require any on-campus classroom attendance, are at the cutting edge of education,” stated College Choice in its introduction to the ranking. “They integrate all of the rigorous academic standards and expansive resources of Tennessee’s thriving colleges and universities, while still allowing students to keep up with the responsibilities of a family or full-time job.”

The “Best Online Colleges in Tennessee” ranking takes several factors into consideration, including but not limited to graduation rate, institutional reputation, student-faculty ratios, and financial aid. Its write-up on Bryan includes helpful information on the distance education program across the undergraduate- and graduate-level online offerings. “Because the undergraduate program is specially tailored to adult learners with existing career or family obligations, most academic pathways offer a format that’s highly flexible and significantly accelerated compared to a traditional course of study,” the ranking points out.

Dr. Adina Scruggs, the dean of the School of Adult and Graduate Studies (AGS), remarked, “The School of Adult and Graduate Studies at Bryan College is committed to providing quality education with a Biblical worldview. The academic strengths of our traditional programs have grown into the variety of online degrees offered today. As we look toward future online course offerings, AGS continues to grow and fulfill the mission of Bryan College by ‘educating students to become servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world.’”

To learn more about Bryan’s online offerings, click here!

Written by Chloe Ann Townsend ’13, advancement writer and editor.


Bryan College Martial Arts Academy Signs Top Martial Artist Kila Owens

October 19, 2017 – Kila Owens is a senior at Straughn High School in Andalusia, Ala.. She is also a world-class martial artist: a 1st degree black belt in Isshinryu Karate (Okinawan style brought back by the Marines in the 1950s) who competes nationally in point fighting, kata, and weapons kata.

David Holcomb, the director of the Bryan College Martial Arts Academy, said “Kila brings instant credibility to our program starting in Fall 2018. It will be a great opportunity for high school students who want to attend college and train alongside her at the academy. I have been watching her since she won the women’s division at such a young age at the Isshinryu Hall of Fame tournament, the largest national tournament for Isshinryu in the country. Kila has the focus and determination to be a great instructor and trainer throughout her life. We are excited to have her at Bryan College!”

Since July Kila has won additional tournaments throughout the South in point fighting, kata, and weapons kata. “She is the type of person we want at Bryan, she wants to grow as a person physically, mentally and spiritually,” continued Holcomb. “We want Kila to be successful. Being able to give her a scholarship to continue to build on her incredible foundation in martial arts is a blessing that we are honored to provide.”

The Bryan College Martial Arts Academy is one of the new programs that Bryan College has starting in the Fall 2018 semester. The academy is for any student – with or without prior martial arts training. Members of the team will compete through the year, ending with a national tournament. In addition, students will work semester by semester to attain a black belt by the end of their senior year. If they already have a black belt, they will work towards their degree ranks in a partnership with their local martial arts school and Bryan College.

Holcomb said, “We already have recruits joining us from Texas, North Carolina, and all over Tennessee. We want this academy to become the standard in martial arts training at the collegiate level while simultaneously helping these students grow in their faith. We believe in the holistic approach of mind, body, and spirit.”

Kila is looking to major in education while attending Bryan College and helping to be a leader in the academy.

For more information contact David Holcomb at 423.605.1534. If you have a student interested in attending Bryan College and being in the Martial Arts Academy, click here.


Bryan College Recognized as a VETS Campus

October 17, 2017 – Last Thursday Bryan College had the distinct honor of being named a VETS Campus by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). The morning ceremony featured several speakers from both Bryan and the local community. Bryan College Coordinator for Military Recruitment Michael Kennedy emceed the event and gave an overview of the program before introducing the other speakers.

According to the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services, “Passed into law in 2014, the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act establishes a program of recognition for higher education institutions which allocate resources for veterans’ successful transition from military service to college enrollment. An institution receiving VETS Campus certification not only prioritizes outreach to veterans, but successfully delivers the services necessary to create a supportive environment where student veterans can prosper while pursuing their education.” Twenty-two institutions of higher education in Tennessee have received the VETS Campus certification. Bryan is one of only four private schools in the state to earn this recognition.

Dayton Mayor Gary Louallen praised the United States military and reiterated the community’s support and pride for the armed forces. He expressed his gratitude “for what Bryan has done to bring this together.”

“We want to invest in and serve those who have served us,” remarked President Stephen D. Livesay during the ceremony. “I’m so proud that Bryan College is going to be a part of a group of four private colleges in the state who have this certification.”

THEC Assistant Executive Director for Tennessee Higher Education Tom Morrison presented the framed approval letter and certificate – which officially designate Bryan College as an official VETS Campus – to Dr. Livesay, who accepted it on behalf of the college. Morrison said, “Congratulations to Bryan College for this wonderful recognition and designation. It shows the work that you’ve done and continue to do in supporting veterans.”

For more information about Bryan’s options for veterans, click here!

Written by Chloe Ann Townsend ’13, advancement writer and editor.


AmazonSmile Foundation Benefits Bryan College Students

October 12, 2017 – The AmazonSmile Foundation has partnered with Bryan College since 2015 to benefit the students of the college – at no additional cost to the purchaser! According to Amazon’s website, “AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.” This includes Bryan College!

The website goes on to point out, “Every item available for purchase on www.amazon.com is also available on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com) at the same price. You will see eligible products marked ‘Eligible for AmazonSmile donation’ on their product detail pages.”

Signing up is easy:

  • Visit smile.amazon.com on your computer or mobile device
  • Select Bryan College as your chosen charitable organization before shopping
  • Shop smile.amazon.com for all your Amazon purchases

“Benefiting the students at Bryan College has never been so simple,” remarked Director of Advancement Janice Pendergrass. “We are thankful to be able to partner with the AmazonSmile Foundation and hope you sign up today, just in time for holiday shopping!”

Written by Chloe Ann Townsend ’13, advancement writer and editor.


Alumni Come Home to the Hill for Homecoming 2017

October 11, 2017 – This past weekend well over 300 alumni and friends flooded onto campus for a time of celebration and reminiscence during Bryan College’s Homecoming 2017. The rains held off and made way for a beautiful weekend packed with fellowship, mealtime reunions, meet-and-greets, and athletic events.

Homecoming opened on Friday with a special chapel service featuring acclaimed speaker and teacher Dr. Christopher Yuan. During registration that afternoon the business and career services departments hosted a meet-and-greet for students and alumni professionals to network together. Friday evening boasted four separate dinner opportunities: the Burger Bash (open to any registrants) and celebratory reunion dinners for the Class of 1992, the Class of 1977, and the NCCAA champion teams being inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame the next day. The first day’s festivities drew to a close with an ice cream social, to which all were invited.

Saturday held even more chances for alumni to fellowship together, starting at 10 A.M. with a retirement reception for English professor Dr. Beth Impson. Then came one of the most celebrated annual homecoming events: the tailgate lunch. Alumni, faculty, staff, and students gathered in the Triangle to eat and chat. A bounce house, face painting booths, and outdoor games were provided for the children. Later the Sports Hall of Fame inductees were presented on the soccer fields during the homecoming game halftime, followed by the presentation of the homecoming court.

During the Red and Gold Gala later Saturday evening several notable alumni were honored, including Alumni of the Year Jake ’59 and Sandy (Schmickl) ’72 Matthes; Young Alumni of the Year R.J. and Lesley (Artois) Smith ’07;  and Honorary Alumni of the Year Pat Kinney ’17, Judy Shetter ’17, and Coach John Reeser ‘17. In addition, this year the 1975 NCCAA Cross Country Champions and the 1977 NCCAA Soccer Champions were officially inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame. The weekend ended Sunday morning with worship and a message brought by Tom ’80 and Connie (Reehoff) ‘82 Branson as they shared what they learned from Connie’s near-death experience.

Alumni Director Paulakay Hall ’84 reflected, “There was a lot of prayer and hard work that went into Homecoming 2017. We prayed for a grateful spirit on campus, we prayed for our alumni to come home and celebrate their legacy and heritage here, and we prayed for God’s sovereign grace and peace to rest over our campus. All of those prayers were answered in abundance. We were blessed with alumni from as far away as Alaska and as close to home as Dayton – and each one of you was an encouragement to us and an honor to have on campus. Thank you, Lions, for ‘coming home.’ We love you!”

Written by Chloe Ann Townsend ’13, advancement writer and editor.


Bryan Named to “Best Colleges” by U.S. News

October 5, 2017 – Bryan College recently received the honor of being named to two different rankings released by U.S. News and World Report, a respected organization that thousands of families depend on to make an educated choice regarding important college and university decisions.

  • #34 in “Best Value Schools” (Regional Universities South): According to this ranking’s website, “The calculation used here takes into account a school’s academic quality, as indicated by its 2018 U.S. News Best Colleges ranking, and the 2016-2017 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. [. . .] Only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included.”
  • #68 (tie) in “Best Regional Universities South”: According to a recent U.S. News article, this ranking’s methodology takes into account “up to 15 indicators of academic excellence.” These are then “scored, normalized and assigned weights that reflect U.S. News’ judgment about how much the measures matter.” Moreover, “U.S. News chooses to only publish the individual overall ranks of schools placing within the top 75 percent of their categories.”

“It is a great privilege for an institution to be named a ‘Best College’ by U.S. News and World Report,” said Vice President of Finance and Enrollment Rick Taphorn. “Bryan is honored to receive this recognition and will continue to pursue excellence and faithfulness to our motto ‘Christ Above All’ far into the future.”

Written by Chloe Ann Townsend ’13, advancement writer and editor.


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