Kettenring recognized as 2018 Staff Member of the Summer


Dr. Clauson and Dr. Mann with Rhonda Kettenring.

October 10, 2018 – Rhonda Kettenring, administrative assistant to the vice president of academics, was recognized as the 2018 Bryan College Staff Member of the Summer. Kettenring was nominated based on her diligence, graciousness, and dedication to the Bryan College mission and purpose. Dr. Stephen Livesay bestowed the award.

Kettenring’s professional qualities were recognized during the presentation. Her organizational and administrative skills are excellent. Both her current and former supervisor identified her ability to work efficiently and effectively.

However, it was her other qualities that clearly set her apart. Dr. Kevin Clauson, former vice president of academics, highlighted Kettenring’s “sense of compassion that embodied both truth and grace.” Kettenring’s sweet spirit is obvious to anyone who crosses her path. She is always willing to serve others and does so with a beautiful smile.

“What I do want you know about Rhonda and what you will see from the first moment you meet her,” said Dr. Douglas Mann, vice president of academics, “is that she seeks to love everyone with the love of Christ… Her own gifts of mercy and grace point everyone she meets to Christ.” Her passionate love for God and dedication to others is evident.

Kettenring is an inspiration to campus and a shining example of glorifying Christ. She has been with Bryan College for seven years, including five years in her current role. Please join us in congratulating Mrs. Rhonda Kettenring.

Inaugural engineering student retreat gives students hands-on experience

Students explore why a 1930s “hit-and-miss” engine is not working and apply their skills and knowledge to fix it.

October 9, 2018 – Bryan College engineering students recently visited Mt. Liberty, Ohio, for a class on missional engineering. The course is an intensive weekend retreat with multiple workshops and activities geared to equip students for a life of missions as engineers.

Through hands-on activities and biblical teaching, students were encouraged to find God’s calling for their life and challenged to pursue a lifetime of service. Students also got to see what happens when engineering is done poorly, highlighting the importance of experienced engineers in third-world countries.

Each student worked on a mission project related to engineering. The projects were intended to give students a vision of what engineering ministry might look like in third world countries. Students completed the Myers-Briggs personality assessment. Project teams were then assigned based on conflicting personality types. Students were challenged to learn to work with people who are different than themselves.

Dr. Marshall, dean of the Vogel school of engineering, preached on Romans 8 and Genesis 1 throughout the weekend. His focus was showing students how engineering relates theologically to our role as caretakers, and how students can give glory to God as engineers.

Dr. Marshall explains how UV light works in the water purification process at a multi-million dollar facility build.

“While we were sitting outside in the cold on Sunday morning drinking coffee, I looked around at all the amazing, new people that seemed to have spontaneously appeared in my life, and I remembered just how close I had come to not coming to Bryan.” said freshman Peyton Lawyer. “At the end of the retreat, which included 18 hours in the car, a baptism, broken bikes, and a long hike in the woods, I just knew I was where God wanted me.”

Intended to show students the vision for what engineering can accomplish and improve retention, the inaugural engineering retreat was a huge success. The Vogel School of Engineering is going to be a strong program for Bryan College, with many bright young men and women graduating to carry out the Great Commission and give glory to God through engineering.

Bryan business students impress at entrepreneurship workshop

Mac Raughton & Logan Dowell present at 3DS with their team

October 8, 2018 – Dr. Jonathan Newman & Dr. Daniel Gates, along with four business majors, recently traveled to Davidson University for an entrepreneurship workshop called 3 Day Startup. Bryan students worked with students from multiple colleges from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon on developing a basic business idea into a well thought out business plan.

Mac Raughton spearheaded the Bryan students with his idea to create a ‘Business in a Box’ for high schools.  Raughton and his fellow students, Jimmy Cadieu; Bryce Gibby; and Logan Dowell, began working through the idea weeks in advance, met regularly over lunch, met with Dr. Gates, and presented a rough draft of the idea to a group of Enactus students during a ‘Shark Tank’ event.  

The Bryan students were confident they had a great idea when they arrived at the event and presented it to the entire 3DS group of students. The student body voted to move forward with the idea along with three other ideas.  Raughton and Dowell formed a team consisting of students form three schools, Cadieu and Gibby joined another team to gain perspective by working on a different team.

Raughton and Dowell were quickly faced with numerous challenges to work through that were presented by the student body, as well as, industry experts that were brought into hear the ‘pitch’ for the idea.  Each group presented their business idea multiple times each day. The opportunity to practice public speaking was challenging and offered fantastic growth opportunities for all students.

Dowell noted that, “Through 3DS I have learned that starting a business has a lot to do with communication. It doesn’t matter how good your idea is if you cannot convey that to investors.”  Raughton had a similar observation, “3DS taught me that public speaking, pitching in particular, comes with practice. I had always thought that I was not given the ability to speak well, but I saw a clear improvement in just the three days that I was at the event.”  

Cadieu and Gibby faced unique challenges while working on a team they did not know and with an idea that was brand new to them.  Cadieu said, “One major lesson I learned is that you shouldn’t be afraid to change your business plan. Changing your initial idea seems to be a normal thing when you are starting a business.”  Gibby observed, “The biggest challenge I encountered at 3DS was how to generate sustainable profit. In my group, this was the constant issue, and it does not have a simple answer. There are a lot of great ideas, but few great business ideas that can generate sustainable profit.”

Each Bryan student was given the opportunity to grow in multiple areas that are difficult to capture in a classroom.  “Davidson University were fantastic hosts,” said Dr. Gates. “They brought amazing resources to ensure the experience was life changing for each student.”


Bryan student finalist for “Pass the Torch” teacher scholarship

October 5, 2018 – Bryan College student Katelyn Novak was recently selected as a finalists for the Teachers Test Prep “Pass the Torch” Teacher Scholarships. Over 660 students entered the competition this year. Only eight students were selected as finalists; Novak holding one of the four spots for elementary education.

“This is an amazing achievement,” said Dr. Olivia Ellis, assistant professor of music at Bryan College. “Katelyn is a passionate and talented student. She is already making an impact on students through her teaching. We are incredibly proud of her accomplishments.”

For the scholarship, students were asked to reflect on a teacher who had been influential in their life. Novak’s submission is about her music teacher, Ms. Tedder. The Teachers Test Prep website describes Novak’s submission as an “evocative homage to her music teacher [in which she] explores how the passion of one extraordinary woman ignited her love of music – a passion she inevitably transfers to her own students.”

When reflecting on Ms. Tedder, Novak explained in her scholarship submission that ‘…her zest for bringing music to life has been planted deep within me. I cannot help but pass it on.’”

Novak is a sophomore double majoring in piano pedagogy and music education with a focus in voice. Novak regularly teaches as part of the Bryan College Community Music School, providing piano lessons to students in Rhea County. Novak is also involved in various campus outreach ministries including Practical Christian Involvement; PALS, a weekly child and teen mentoring ministry; Senior Adult Ministry; the discipleship program; chorale; and opera.

Bryan students will spend break providing disaster relief

October 3, 2018 – Fall Break is quickly approaching, and once again some Bryan students will spend their break serving others. The flooding that resulted from hurricane Florence has significantly impacted many areas along the Atlantic coast, especially in North Carolina. A group of students will be traveling to New Bern, N.C. to assist in flood recovery and disaster relief efforts. The group will leave Dayton, Tenn. on Oct. 13 and return on Oct. 20.

In preparation for the trip, representatives from the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief team will provide flood recovery training. Training will take place on Oct. 7 and will be free for students.  Faculty and staff of the college are also welcome to attend training for a small fee. Those who complete training will be certified in disaster relief with the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief organization for three years.  This certification will provide recipients the opportunity to help in future crises.

Students can sign-up for the training through Oct. 6. Sign-ups for the disaster relief trip are available through Oct. 12. Students who want to sign up for the training and trip should contact Michaela Thomas, short term missions coordinator, at or Donald Buttram at

Republican nominee for governor, Bill Lee, visits Bryan College

September 26, 2018 – Bill Lee, the Republican nominee for governor of Tennessee, visited the Bryan College campus on Tuesday, Sept. 25. Lee toured the campus and was then greeted by a crowded room. Dozens of students stood in the spaces around tables to hear Lee speak once seats were full.

Lee, a farmer and businessman, is not a politician. He has never worked for the government or run for political office. “[I] wouldn’t be a likely person to be standing in this spot,” said Lee.  “Except that, God has a way of using our life circumstances to put us in places we might not have envisioned years ago.” Lee continued to share powerful stories of the circumstances that led him to run for governor.

He also shared his vision for the future of Tennessee. He discussed the importance of education and improvements in our public school system. The rural communities in Tennessee were also a key topic during Lee’s talk. Lee stressed the importance of government collaborating with the private sector to ensure successful improvements in Tennessee.

Lee’s faith plays a powerful role in his plans for Tennessee. On, Lee is quoted saying, “When I’m governor, I’ll engage all Tennesseans, including people of faith, support religious liberty, and I’ll always remember that principles come before politics.” Lee plans to implement the first Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, serving as “a single resource for our faith-based and community service organizations who wish to be a part of the solution for Tennessee.”Lee provides an outstanding example for students, showing how faith and work go hand-in-hand.

After Lee addressed the audience, he fielded a variety of questions. Students actively engaged in the event. Many questions posed by Bryan students showed a high level of interest in local and state issues including education, business, and government and private sector collaboration.

The college does not endorse political candidates; however, Bryan welcomes the opportunity to expose students, faculty and staff to engagement with political candidates and representatives.

“William Jennings Bryan referred to his political involvement as ‘applied Christianity’,” said Dr. Kevin Clauson, chair of the department of government and justice at Bryan College. “We as Christians are called to be salt and light in the world, and that includes the political and governmental world.  It is an inspiration and an example to see men and women who follow Christ also applying that Faith to the political realm. The State of Tennessee and the United States of America, founded on so many Christian principles, can gain much from seeing and emulating this kind of endeavor.”

View photos from Bill Lee’s visit.

Bryan students awarded Southeast Bank scholarships

Scholarship recipients (from left to right): Gary Tourner, Christin Williams, Karis Powell, and Tori Burnette with Katie Parks, Southeast Bank

September 24, 2018 – For over 15 years, SouthEast Bank has sponsored Bryan students, investing in the community by allowing students to receive a scholarship. On Sept. 12, 2018, several of Bryan’s students who had received the scholarship had the opportunity to meet with SouthEast Bank representative Katie Park.

Park expressed that SouthEast bank has specifically and consistently chosen Bryan because of how passionate they are about investing in the community and in education. She noted, “As a company, we want to support schools in our network. Our two biggest philanthropic outreaches are education based and community based, and Bryan embodies both of those needs.”

Bryan students Gary Tourner, Karis Powell, Christin Williams and Tori Burnette expressed their gratitude and appreciation to Park and SouthEast Bank for the scholarship. Burnette explained how much joy she felt when she found out she was a recipient of the scholarship and how grateful she was for the opportunity.

As an institution, SouthEast Bank has been committed to investing in education at all levels. Park explained further, “We have local banks in Dayton, so we wanted to develop a relationship with Bryan because it is such a great school.” SouthEast Bank in Dayton is located at 3995 Rhea County Highway, in Dayton, TN.


Written by: Krista Reinhardt ’19, Integrated Marketing Communication

Faculty Friday: Dr. Zeb Balentine

September 14, 2018 – Bryan college welcomes Dr. Zeb Balentine as the new assistant professor of Christian ministry and worship arts and director of campus worship. Balentine earned a bachelor of arts in biblical studies and a minor in pastoral leadership from Central Baptist College in Conway, Ark. He later attended Liberty University where he earned a master of arts and a doctorate in worship studies.

Balentine is passionate about helping shape worshipers and worship leaders for God’s glory. His life was greatly impacted by his college professors. Balentine wanted to have that kind of impact on others, which led to his decision to pursue work in a college setting. The position and culture at Bryan College seemed to be the perfect fit for him.

In the upcoming year, Balentine is looking forward to getting to know and work closely with his students. He is also currently writing a book about worship leadership.

Balentine is originally from Warren, Ark. He and his wife, Michelle recently relocated to Dayton, Tenn., with their three children. Their youngest child was actually born in the car on the way to the hospital. Balentine jokes that he managed to live to tell about it.

Please join us in welcoming Balentine and his family to the Bryan College family. To learn more about Balentine’s experience, visit his faculty profile.

Organist David Friberg to perform free concert at Bryan College

September 12, 2018 – Organist David Friberg will return to Bryan College to perform in concert as part of the Guest Artist Series. The concert will feature Friberg’s extraordinary organ music with some special guests throughout the evening. Dr. Sigrid Luther will accompany Friberg on the piano. The Bryan College Chorale, directed by Dr. Kimberly Keck and the Bryan College Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. David Luther, with also accompany Friberg on a few numbers.

Friberg has a long history with Bryan College. He served as the chairman of the Bryan College division of fine and performing arts, and played a significant role in the development and growth of the music department at Bryan College. Friberg hired Drs. David and Sigrid Luther, who have continued to serve Bryan’s music department since their retirement in 2014.

Friberg is the organist at Second Presbyterian Church. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists, the Chattanooga Music Club, and the MacDowell Music Club. Friberg earned his bachelor of arts and master of arts in organ performance from Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC.


More about David Friberg:

Besides being the organist at Second Presbyterian, Mr. Friberg is also the keyboard accompanist for the UTC Master Chorale, and is a choral accompanist at UTC. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists, the Chattanooga Music Club, and the MacDowell Music Club.

He received his B.A. and M.A. in organ performance from Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC and went on to chair the organ department there.  During his years in the Army, he served as organist at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He has also served as the chairman of the Division of Fine Arts at Bryan College in Dayton, TN and as chairman of the music department at Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, GA.

He was privileged to be an artist-fellow in organ and harpsichord at the Bach Aria Summer Institute in Stonybrook, NY.  One of the musical highlights of his life was participating in a Bach Organ Tour of Eastern Germany and playing some of the organs J. S. Bach had played.

Bryan College listed as 2019 ‘Best College’ by U.S. News and World Report

September 10, 2018 – Bryan College was honored by being named to two different rankings released today 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.

#40 in “Best Value Schools” (Regional Universities South): According to this ranking’s website, “Only those schools ranked in the top half of their 2019 Best Colleges ranking categories [. . .] were considered for the Best Value Schools list. [. . .]The ratio of quality to price accounted for 60 percent of the overall score; the percentage of all undergraduates receiving need-based grants accounted for 25 percent; and the average discount accounted for 15 percent.”

#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.”

“We are honored to be ranked a ‘Best College’ by U.S. News and World Report” said Rick Taphorn, vice president of finance and enrollment at Bryan College. “Our faculty and staff continue to work hard to ensure that Bryan provides a high-quality, Christian education at an affordable price.”