Bryan Confers 100 Degrees at December Commencement

December 18, 2017 – On Friday, Dec. 15, new graduates of the School of Adult and Graduate Studies (AGS) and the School of Arts and Sciences celebrated as Bryan College conferred 100 degrees on them, with 12 candidates for the Master of Business Administration degree; 2 for the Master of Arts degree; 8 for the Master of Education degree; 76 for Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Business Administration degrees; and 2 for the Associate of Science degree. In addition, 18 August graduates walked that night.

During the service Dr. Vaughn Cardona led the audience and graduates in singing “Joy to the World” and Mrs. Kim Keck sang “May the Road Rise Up.” Afterward, commencement speaker Chief Master Sergeant Mark A. Harris (senior enlisted leader for the Tennessee National Guard) spoke to the graduates. CMSgt Harris shared his testimony, a life story of God’s provision, comfort, and healing. He began, “I’d like to say how much I deeply respect and appreciate Bryan College as an institution of higher learning, for providing our community with a Christian worldview education. The mission statement of educating students to become servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world sets the tone and expectation and standards – not only for the faculty, but also for the students and community.”

CMSgt Harris went on to applaud the Class of 2017 for their perseverance and their ability to overcome life’s obstacles. “Thank you for keeping the course as you accomplished this degree of higher education! I also would push you to not stop now,” he said. “Never stop trying to produce and develop your professional skill sets, your educational background, and your leadership skills. Never stop.” He then pointed out that believers never “graduate” from serving the Lord, then challenged the graduates to go out with the goal of reaching others for Christ.

Bryan College President Stephen D. Livesay remarked, “The fear of the Lord, the Scripture says, is the beginning of wisdom. My congratulations to you! I pray God’s best for you in the days to come.”

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

Admissions Announces Winner of Great Commoner Essay Competition

December 14, 2017 – Bryan College’s admissions department has officially announced the winner of the Great Commoner Essay Competition: Laurel McLaughlin.

The Great Commoner Essay Competition is held as part of the invitation-only Bryan College Scholarship Weekend. Prospective students from all over the country convene on Bryan’s Dayton campus to see the college for themselves and to compete for valuable scholarship opportunities. One of these opportunities comes through an essay that interested students are required to write on campus during the weekend. According to the admissions webpage, “Students participating in this competition will receive an essay prompt developed by Bryan College faculty and have two hours to develop and complete their essay response.” The essay topic is kept secret until writing time comes, making this a true test of skill and clear thinking.

And the prize? A full-tuition scholarship to Bryan College.

This year’s winner is Laurel McLaughlin of Little Rock, Ark.. Laurel says that after being notified, her first reaction was disbelief. “I am certainly honored to have been chosen as the winner of this contest,” Laurel reflects. She explains, “I did not expect to win. Once past the initial shock, I just felt extremely grateful for such a generous award from Bryan, for the years of training in writing from my wonderful teachers, and most of all for God’s gracious providence in giving me this amazing opportunity.”

Although Laurel has not yet decided on a major, she is considering English or liberal arts as her field of study when she attends Bryan. She is enthusiastic about studying her interests – such as history, music, and English – in greater depth than she was able to during high school. She says, “I look forward to growing spiritually alongside fellow believers, growing in maturity by taking on new responsibilities, making new friends, and (of course) learning!”

Laurel’s hobbies include reading, knitting, creating art, and playing video games; one of her very favorite pastimes is music – listening, composing, singing, and developing her piano and cello performance skills.

“Calling the essay winner has become a highlight of my year!” exclaimed Admissions Director Joshua Hood. “Laurel is a very deserving winner and will no doubt succeed in every academic endeavor. We are excited to welcome her as a Bryan Lion in 2018!”

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

Bryan College Announces Dean of New Engineering Program

December 12, 2017 – One of the most anticipated new programs to be offered by Bryan College starting in 2018 is one step closer to fruition; the engineering program has officially acquired a program dean.

Dr. Thomas Marshall – who holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Oregon Institute of Science and Technology, a M.S. in engineering from Loyola Marymount University, and a B.S. in engineering from Ohio State University, along with a M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – has an impressive range of experience to bring to the table in the new engineering program at Bryan.

According to Academic Vice President Kevin Clauson, “Dr. Marshall has helped two other schools start up engineering programs, at California Baptist University and Mt. Vernon Nazarene University. He has also been a consultant and has been in industry and started his own businesses. He has a passion for ‘missional engineering,’ providing engineering services to peoples and areas in need in the name of Christ, something he wants to instill into Bryan’s program.” Dr. Marshall will lead the engineering program, with specializations in both mechanical and civil engineering, starting in the summer of 2018.

“We are very excited to welcome Dr. Marshall on board as the engineering dean here at Bryan,” remarked President Stephen D. Livesay. “He is a man of great character and experience and has a wonderful vision for this promising new program.”

Learn more about Dr. Thomas Marshall.

The engineering program will be available starting in the fall of 2018, pending SACSCOC approval.

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

Dayton Rotary Club Awards Scholarships During Annual Luncheon

December 5, 2017 – On Friday, Dec. 1, the Rotary Club of Dayton awarded scholarships to current Bryan College freshmen Elizabeth Deardurff and Kristopher Lafferty at the annual Rotary luncheon on Bryan’s campus.

The Rotary Scholarship has been in place at Bryan for over 50 years, a span of time Vice President of Advancement Chuck Baker called “extremely remarkable” in his statements at the luncheon. He said, “On behalf of Dr. Livesay and all of us here at Bryan College, I want to express our appreciation for this scholarship gift: Thank you, Dayton Rotary Club, for your generosity!”

After his remarks Baker introduced the two scholarship recipients to the Rotary Club. Elizabeth Deardurff stepped up to the podium first. A freshman from Spring City, Tenn., Elizabeth has come to Bryan as a biology major. Watching her mother in her career as a nurse has fueled the same passion in this young student. She intends to go into nursing and specialize in oncology, especially pediatric oncology. She told the Rotarians, “I want to thank you all so much for this scholarship. It means a lot to me and my mom!”

Kristopher Lafferty also hails from Spring City, although he and his family are originally from Minnesota. He echoed Deardurff’s gratitude in his own statement: “I would like to say what an honor it is to be chosen as the male recipient for this scholarship. It’s really going to help with paying for books, tuition, and all the bills I’m going to have to pay. I came to Bryan to get my master’s in biblical studies, and after four years here, I’m going to St. Louis, Mo., to attend Concordia Seminary, where I’ll be for another four years to become a pastor.”

Lafferty commented on how, even though he originally chose Bryan in part because of the short distance to his family, the college’s faculty and staff have become like a second family. “I love how – especially in a secular world – Bryan remains faithful to its mission with how we’re supposed to live our lives through Christ each and every day,” he said. “I’d like to thank the members of the Rotary Club of Dayton for this honor. May God bless each and every one of you.”

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

Free “Christmas Celebration” Performance on Bryan College Campus

November 29, 2017 –The Bryan College Department of Fine and Performing Arts’ annual Christmas concert, “Christmas Celebration,” will be performed for one night only on Dec. 8 at 7:30 P.M. in Rudd Auditorium. The concert is free and open to the public.

“Christmas is always an exciting time at Bryan College,” said Kimberly Keck, director of the Bryan College Chorale. “We are looking forward to kicking off the Season with a celebration of the birth of our Savior.”

“A Christmas Celebration,” featuring the Bryan Chorale, Chamber Singers, Wind Ensemble, Piano Ensemble, and Orchestra Ensemble will perform a variety of Christmas music that is bound to put audiences in the holiday mood. This evening of Christmas favorites will include traditional and sacred Christmas anthems including “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night,” “Fantasia on Greensleeves,” and many more.

Friday evening’s concert will also feature an optional festive gourmet dinner. This Christmas dinner will be served in Brock Hall at 6 P.M. preceding the concert. The $20 dinner ticket includes both the meal and reserved, center seating for the concert.

Secure Your Dinner Ticket Today!

Concert Only: FREE
Concert and Dinner: $20
Children, Concert and Dinner: Ages 5-11: $10
Under 5: free

Tickets for the dinner are now available and may be purchased online at or over the phone at 423.775.7323. Dinner registration closes on Thursday, December 7 at 5 P.M.
For questions regarding the dinner contact

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.

Giving Tuesday: Tonesha Allison

Tonesha Allison - Giving Tuesday - HeadshotTonesha Allison

Major: Integrated Marketing Communication

Thanks to generous donors like you, Tonesha is making a difference on and off the court. Join her and others by donating to the Bryan College Scholarship Fund this Giving Tuesday. Together we can make a difference for Christ!

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Why did you choose Bryan College?

I would say that Bryan College chose me because my experience in choosing a college my senior year of high school was very stressful. I wanted to make the best decision, so I had asked many family members and my high school basketball coach for advice. I believe that’s what made my decision more stressful. I visited Bryan at least four times before making Bryan my home for four years. On those visits, I really wanted to focus on why God was leading me to come here. I am a minority, which lead me to think Bryan wasn’t going to be the best fit for me. However, the years I have been here, the color of your skin has no effect on how the people treat you. I had asked students and teammates the question, why did they like Bryan and the one thing they had in common was how great and merciful the people are. The more I came to Bryan, the easier my decision was. I believe God was leading and showing me that this is where He wanted me to be.

What impact did scholarships have on your ability/decision to attend Bryan?

If it weren’t for scholarships I received, I wouldn’t be able to attend Bryan College. I have an academic and an athletic scholarship. What they have allowed me to do here at Bryan is get an education and grow spiritually in the Lord. I have developed a strength of independence and maturity from the strong Christian environment.

What does the Bryan College mission statement mean to you?

Our mission statement here at Bryan has shaped me into the women I am today. I have grown so much in the Lord and feel well prepared to take on the task that God has planned for me in the future to make a difference in today’s world.

How does being involved with athletics make a difference in your life and the the lives of those you serve?

I am on the Varsity Women’s basketball team and the caption this year. This year we have started Sunday night team devotionals that I lead. During that time, we all come together as a team and just focus all our attention on the Lord and what he has for us. My freshman year, I would have never tackled this challenge, but now I feel as if this is just the roots of the tree that God has planted for me.

What has God taught you through your athletic involvement?

God has taught me so many things through my experiences and roles and responsibilities with the team this year. I have so many everlasting friendships that I know I wouldn’t have going to any other college. Growing up in a house full of boys, I always wanted a sister and coming here God has given me so many sisters on the court and sisters in Christ.

Why should others give to the Bryan College scholarship fund? 

Giving to the Bryan College scholarship fund is such a great opportunity to change many students’ lives. The only way for me to attend Bryan was through scholarships. I am the only child of my mother to attend college thus far, and I know I am making her proud back at home. Bryan College has allowed me to find my identity through Christ. I can truly say I am thankful for the chance to attend Bryan, because it has changed my life.

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Tonesha Allison - Giving Tuesday - Collage


Giving Tuesday: Kelsey Perry

Kelsey Perry Giving Tuesday

Kelsey Perry

Major: Psychology; Minor: Soul Care

Thanks to generous donors like you, Kelsey Perry is making a difference through summer internships in an Austrian mental health rehabilitation center. Join her and others by donating to the Bryan College Scholarship Fund this Giving Tuesday. Together we can make a difference for Christ!

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Why did you choose Bryan College?

I was interested and accepted to several schools, but I was drawn to how much you could feel Christ’s presence on this campus. The faculty and staff have such a heart for their students, and the campus feels like a family. Also, the Psychology program here is top notch.

What impact did scholarships have on your ability/decision to attend Bryan?

I come from a single parent home that includes my disabled dad, an older brother with substance abuse issues, and me, a girl who did not have much hope that she was going to be able to afford college. God opened up multiple doors for me to come to Bryan that I really felt like I was meant to be here, and one of those doors was the fact that my scholarships gave me nearly a full ride!

What does the Bryan College mission statement mean to you?

It means that I am a member of the Body of Christ working with other members to further the Kingdom of God, through serving others through missions, loving others well, and by simply living a Christ-like life every day.

How has your time at Bryan prepared you “to become a servant of Christ to make a difference in today’s world”?

Bryan has provided me with opportunities to help others through multiple outlets, such as mission trips, community outreach programs, and internships. They have also shown me grace and love through Christ-like role models that I aspire to be for others.

How did your internships in Austria make a difference in your life and the lives of those you served?

In the summer of 2016, Dennis Miller (the international internships coordinator at Bryan) connected me to an Austrian mental health rehabilitation center named Pro Mente Burgenland. I was able to be a part of a wonderful team of people that sought to provide stability and try to integrate their clients back into society. Working with Pro Mente allowed me to be a part of change in others’ lives simply by being there for my clients and extending the love of Christ to them. I was able to talk with them (when the language barrier allowed), share laughter with them, and come alongside them through their journey to recovery. I also gained an immense amount of experience in another culture and knowledge of myself through it. I adored my time with my clients and my team, and, surprisingly, the president of the organization asked me to come back to intern for them again this past summer in 2017, which I happily accepted.

What has God taught you through your internships?

God has shown me through my internships how loving people well looks different in many ways, whether it is through trying to learn basic words in another language to communicate or sharing a smile or listening to the heartbreaking story of someone’s struggles. Also, God has shown me the importance of leaning on His strength in order to step out of my comfort zone for the service of others.

What additional activities/organizations are you involved in on campus?

I am a part of the Residence Life Department as the Head Resident Assistant in Robinson Hall (one of our girl dorms). This has been one of the wonderful and challenging experiences in my life which allows me to care, guide, and share the love of Christ with the women residents of Bryan College.

Why should others give to the Bryan College scholarship fund? 

These scholarships have given me the chance to have a quality education with a Christian worldview, and an opportunity of a life time to not only have had just one internship in Austria but two with the chance of a paid third internship after graduation! Whether the amount is small or large, God can bless others like me, who would never have had these opportunities for the future, by those individuals who desire to further God’s kingdom through donating to the Bryan College scholarship fund.

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Kelsey Perry - Austrian Internship - Giving Tuesday