Although he has been in this post for over 18 months already, the President of the University of Tusculum, Dr Scott Hummel, was finally inaugurated in a ceremony held on Friday morning at the Pioneer Arena in Tusculum. .
Hummel’s selection as the institution’s 29th president was announced in January 2020, and he officially took the reins on February 17, 2020.
Hummel came to Tusculum from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he both graduated as a student and served for 30 years, including as vice president for advancement and relations with churches, executive vice-president and provost. Like Tusculum, William Carey is a liberal arts institution affiliated with the church, although instead of the Presbyterian church, like Tusculum, William Carey has ties to the Southern Baptist and Mississippi conventions.
Friday’s ceremony, postponed due to COVID-19, included comments from university leaders, administrators, alumni and current students, as well as lawmakers, State Representative David Hawk, also a graduate de Tusculum, and United States Senator Marsha Blackburn, who gave the office to the President. Dr. Ben Burnett, executive vice president of William Carey University, and Dr. Johnnie DuPree, former mayor of Hattiesburg, also spoke and read scriptures, including Psalm 46, which has special meaning for Hummel.
“Dr. Hummel left his mark on the William Carey campus, but his best hour was after tornado damage in 2017,” Burnett said.
The January 2017 tornado that hit the university’s Hattiesburg campus destroyed six buildings and damaged nearly 50 others, totaling $ 110 million in damage.
The campus chapel was among those severely damaged in the disaster, but Burnett said when Hummel entered after the storm had passed he found the Bible on the pulpit intact and open at Psalm 46: ” God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble.
Hummel shared the story of the tornado and its significant discovery in the wreckage of the chapel when he joined Tusculum, and he said on Friday that the experience was an opportunity to grow in his faith and lead the response to William Carey’s post-tornado crisis helped prepare him for the challenge he would soon face in Tusculum of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I certainly got into a tough spot with the pandemic, but we were able to get by because of our commitment to the Pioneer spirit, which helps solve problems, and the Tusculum family, because we take care of each other. “, Hummel mentioned. “We have found ways to adapt and continue to fulfill Tusculum’s mission despite the pandemic. It won’t be the last crisis or storm our students face, but they will be better prepared for the next one when it arrives. “
Blackburn praised Hummel’s leadership and instructed him to continue to keep his Christian faith at the forefront in Tusculum.
“The Constitution may limit the interconnectivity between church and government, but it doesn’t limit the connection between your faith and how you find your place in the world,” Blackburn said. “I encourage you, your family, your community and your students to continue to bring your faith-manifested life into the public arena fearlessly, consistently, and without apologies.”
She was among the many to welcome Hummel on Friday, saying Tusculum’s connection to the church was what she loved the most about the institution.
“I am delighted to welcome Dr Hummel,” she said after the ceremony. “I have had the opportunity to visit some of the students, and I know they are committed to their faith and dedicated to living their faith in whatever they do, and Tusculum helps them do that because they do not separate faith from education. “
Dr. Greg Nelson, chairman of the university’s board of trustees and interim president from August 2019 until Hummel’s arrival, also commented on Hummel’s faith-driven leadership at Tusculum.
“From a board perspective, we have a president who is honest about the problems he sees and helps us find ways to solve them,” Nelson said. “His personal integrity has been fully demonstrated and he is not afraid to lead with his faith ahead.”
Nelson added that he admires Hummel’s “broad ability to connect with anyone, no matter what his faith,” as well as the way he maintains a welcoming environment for all on campus, while continually displaying his personal faith in his leadership.
He and Hummel’s wife Starr, who now teaches science in Johnson City, said Hummel also teaches an advanced Old Testament course in Tusculum in an effort to better connect with students.
Hummel spoke of his love for Tusculum’s mission, which is to provide “active and experiential education in a caring Christian environment to inspire civic engagement, enrich personal lives, and equip career-ready professionals.” He said that was part of what drew him to Tusculum.
“I am honored to be at Tusculum University because of our mission. I love the way it inspires students towards civic engagement, ”he said.
Hummel has been emphasizing civic engagement as an essential part of an education in Tusculum since January 2020, when the university’s board announced he would take over the following month.
“Tusculum is more than just information,” Hummel said Friday.
Hummel said he looks forward to continuing to develop the university’s academic offerings, a priority he also mentioned at the start of his appointment as president and a priority he has already made progress on with several new programs and degrees such as a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship introduced. This year.