Carson-Newman University President Charles A. Fowler recently shared with students, faculty and staff how the university’s mission must become the prevalent navigational influence on the school’s future and determine the assessment of effectiveness as an institution.
The address came during this year’s Convocation ceremony, held at Burke-Tarr Stadium to allow for social distancing due to the pandemic. The annual ceremony celebrates the senior class and serves as a faith-filled marker to begin the academic year.
Fowler emphasized the role of the University’s mission in delivering a Christ-centered education to students, stating: “It’s why we exist.”
The university’s mission statement is that “our mission as Christian educators is to help our students reach their full potential as educated citizens and worldwide servant-leaders.”
Fowler described the university’s course as being directed by Scripture and reflective of the character and life of Christ.
“Christian educators recognize the authority, truthfulness and sufficiency of the Scriptures,” Fowler said. “We must all find our identity as co-laborers at Carson-Newman in our Christ-centered mission while recognizing our great responsibility to extend the rich heritage of the Christian intellectual tradition to the next generation.”
Dr. Andrew Smith, acting dean of the Religion Department, reflected on how faith influences educators across all disciplines at the University.
“Carson-Newman is a Christian university. For me, the Christian university is a place where faith in Christ grounds authentically rigorous inquiry in every field of study,” Smith said. “There is nothing more fascinating than imagining and reimagining the ways in which the Christian faith, refracted through the lenses of the various disciplines of the university, forms students that will be prepared to engage their world critically and compassionately after graduation.”
C-N Provost Jeremy J. Buckner described the faith-filled focus of the University’s mission as a calling.
“Christ calls us to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength,” Buckner said. “At Carson-Newman, we see education as a transformational process involving the whole person. We believe that education should be academically rigorous as well as spiritually formative. We also believe that a community shaped by love and grace provides the critical support to challenge our students.”
Fowler emphasized the value the university places on each student to fulfill this transformational process.
“Students matter. Their voices matter. Their education matters. Their lives matter,” Fowler said. “We believe that as Christian educators we have not only the ability, but the responsibility to do all that is possible to assist each student in moving forward. To inspire them to realize the potential their future holds while equipping and encouraging them to realize God’s purpose for their lives.”
The President’s address on the university’s commitment to being thoroughly missional directed represents the first of “Five Pillars of Purpose” that he utilizes to outline priorities in his presidency. Each year for the next four years at Convocation, Fowler will continue to highlight one of the remaining four pillars: church focused, confessionally defined, innovatively driven and culture impacting.