Category: Academics


A year in review

KNOXVILLE – In the words of President Tommy Smith, “This has been a year of celebration.” At the end of his first year in office Smith feels like he has accomplished a few of the goals he walked in with.

Among those goals was: being a student friendly president, putting an emphasis on athletics, math and science, and getting the ARC finished while working on the strategic plan of the university.

In regard to his first goal of being a student friendly president, Smith said that he wanted to make as many events student oriented as possible. He also said that he wanted to be an accessible president to the students.

“I want students to know that they can come talk to me,” Smith said. “I may not always do what they want me to do, but I will be glad to listen and really hear their concerns.”

His second goal of putting an emphasis on athletics, math and science Has also been successful, according to Smith. The ARC is almost finished and will open in mid-May and Smith and First Lady Debbie Smith have also been to a lot of athletic events this year. The university has hired a new math professor, according to Provost Jon Weatherly, and is also in the process of hiring a new chemistry professor.

Weatherly said that former President Gary Weedman “crystalised” the idea of a Third Way institution that Smith has embodied well and carried on in. Weatherly is glad that Smith is putting an emphasis on math and science, and says that he hopes the progress that is being made in those fields will boost enrollment and the intellectual diversity of the student body. Weatherly hopes that the addition of new resources to these fields will increase overall student awareness and ability within these fields.

“We have all heard the jokes about Johnson math,” Weatherly said. “But soon those jokes won’t add up. It will quickly become inappropriate to say ‘I can’t answer that because I go to Johnson and I can’t do math’. It will be ‘I go to Johnson, I have friends that do math.”

Weatherly also says that he is happy with the current state of the faculty and how they have continued to progress this year. He also pointed out that professors go through the same challenges everyone does, and he hopes that they realize that they are loved and supported by everybody at Johnson.

“Those kinds of experiences continue to transform them to better teachers in the regard that they become more mature exemplars of genuine Christian faith,” Weatherly said.

In regard to Smith’s third goal, the ARC will be open on May 19, and the administration is working on the new master plan for the future of the university. He says in the years to come the focus will be on deferred maintenance that needs to be done. He also says they are talking about what the next big project will be, which he says could be transforming the gym in the PW to an 1100 seat chapel.

Freshman Drew Algate says that he feels he has been adequately challenged academically this year but ultimately loves the “uncommon community” of Johnson. Junior Micah Magee says that he concurs with Algate.

“Junior year was the most challenging year,” Magee said. “It was a great semester. I finished up my last semester of Greek…yeet! I loved the culture of the dorms. It’s something that I’m not going to have next semester, so I have been trying to take it all in.”

Smith ultimately says that chapel has been good, student morale is up and that he is encouraged by the success of the capital campaign so far. He has plans for a busy summer, but is excited for what next year will bring.


18th Annual Stone-Campbell Journal Conference to be held April 5,6

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University will host the 18th annual Stone-Campbell Journal Conference April 5-6. The theme for the event will be “Acts and Paul: Another Look”. The three speakers will be Craig Keener, Jerry Sumney, and David Fiensy.

Keener, F.M. Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, will present “Interpreting Acts: The Value of Cultural Background” and “Interpreting Romans: The Mind of the Spirit”.

Sumney, a professor of biblical studies at the Lexington Theological Seminary will be presenting “Interpreting First Corinthians: The Value of Tradition”.

Emeritus professor of biblical studies at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, Fiensy will present “Interpreting Acts: The Value of Archaeology”.

There will be more than 50 parallel papers about biblical, theological, and historical topics presented.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 5, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 6.


JU School of Communications and Creative Arts offers minors, electives

KNOXVILLE — Johnson University’s School of Communications and Creative Arts offers many options for students to enhance their education.

The SCCA offers three minor options in music and one in communications. Students from any area of study can pursue these options.

Each minor consists of 18 additional credit hours, however, if planned strategically, this amount may be less.

The music minors consist of three options – music performance minor, music minor, and worship theology minor. The music performance minor consists of music theory and performance course content. The other music minor consists of more traditional music theory, but still contains elements of music performance. The third minor is worship theology which focuses on digging deep into the theology of worship.
The minor in communications also can provide training in various areas.

“…So any major on the campus can do a mass communication minor…,” Matthew Broaddus, Dean of the School of Communications and Creative Arts said. “So if you’re interested in video production, audio production, writing more, you can add (this) minor to your degree and do that.”

Broaddus said that the degree is a great additive to any major, as the skills that it can teach you will enable you to succeed in your career.

“…So it just gives students more opportunities to experience different things and to gain experience and be better prepared for a job market that demands diverse skills,” Broaddus said.

He said that students will also gain a crucial ability.

“Well, I think the big one is critical thinking,” Broaddus said. “If you’re going out and asking questions and collecting information and observing the world with the mindset of ‘I have to observe this and then tell other people’, you learn to think critically, you learn to evaluate situations… a lot of people really struggle with the ability just to think critically and I think it really gives people an opportunity to develop and practice critical thinking skills.”

If students are considering adding a minor they should do so immediately. It can successfully be added and fit in as late as your junior year, however, if added in the senior year it could prolong the expected graduation date.

“There are a couple of different ways you could approach it but to get all the content in you probably need to give yourself two years to stagger it out throughout your degree,” Broaddus said. “So the earlier you declare a minor the better.”

The two music minors do have an audition requirement. Interested students can contact music faculty to schedule auditions and find out more details.

If a minor in one of these areas doesn’t suit you, then you can pursue an elective option which ranges from private music lessons to ensemble, to joining the Royal Scribe staff.

“Participating in private lessons is a great way to just learn to perform better and participating in an ensemble, you know, there’s just great value just learning to sing with a group,” Broaddus said. “Our hope is that we’ll have a lot of people who are passionate about singing cause we have so many of them on campus who aren’t necessarily music majors, but they’ll want to get involved and just continue to push their ability further.”

Students can enroll in private music lessons without any background with the instruments.

There is another elective option    Johnson’s official student publication, the Royal Scribe. The Royal Scribe allows students to hone their writing skills while also gaining other life skills and experience that will be beneficial in their career and personal life.

“The ability to communicate and present information – collect information – it’s a job skill that translates to any career,” Broaddus said. “So that ability to build relationships, to ask questions, and to gather information will benefit anyone long term in their careers.”

Students can join the Royal Scribe just as a club activity also.

“…It’s the opportunity just to get connected with the campus community a little bit more, to learn more about your university, to help document the history of the university,” Broaddus said.

If a student participates in any of these options for three semesters, it has the possibility to count for an elective.

Students interested in adding a minor or electives in these areas should contact the SCCA.




Stone-Campbell Journal Conference paper competition open for submission


The Fourteenth Annual Student Paper Competition of the Stone-Campbell Journal Conference is asking for entries before the Dec. 15, 2018 deadline.

The 2019 contest is open to undergraduate juniors and seniors, and graduate MA/MDiv. Papers falling under any SCJ discipline are eligible for entry. The requirements state that papers must be 8-12 pages in length.

Contest winners will receive a certificate and books, and will also be recognized in an article on the SCJ website. The Isaac Errett winner    Stone-Campbell topics only    will receive a $250 cash prize.  In addition, several Christian universities have pledged scholarships of $2500 toward one year of graduate school for the winners of the respective divisions.

Finalists will be notified by Feb. 17, 2019. The top three students from each category will present their papers before judges at the conference, which will be held April 5-6, 2019 at Johnson University in Knoxville. Paper presentations must be under 20 minutes for undergraduates, and 25 minutes for graduate students.

Undergraduate and graduate participators should submit their papers to Les Hardin by Dec. 15, 2018. Any questions should be directed to Dr. Hardin at

Errett Paper contestants in Stone-Campbell history should submit their papers and area of program study to Newell Williams by Dec. 15, 2018. All questions for this category should be directed to Dr. Williams at


Smith named seventh president of JU

Tommy Smith

Knoxville — Today in a ceremony at Alumni Memorial Chapel, Johnson University Board of Trustees Chairman L. D. Campbell announced that Tommy Smith has been named the president-elect of the Johnson University System.

Smith, JU’s current Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, will be installed into office July 1, 2018 upon the retirement of current JU President Gary Weedman.

“Dr. Smith was an obvious choice for our board of trustees,” Campbell said.

He said Smith embodies the values and beliefs of the university

According to University Media Relations, Smith served Johnson University as a Professor of History from 1989-2012, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 2012-2014 and Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs since 2014.

In a statement of acceptance from Smith, he wrote “When the Board of Trustees extended the invitation to me to become the seventh president of Johnson University, I replied by stating, ‘There are many who love Johnson University as much as I do, but no one loves Johnson any more than me. I am humbled and honored to accept.’”

Smith said he has  invested the past 28 years of his life in this institution.

“I know much about the past of this school, have had a hand in shaping the present, and am so grateful that the trustees have given me opportunity to lead Johnson into the future,” Smith said.

Smith will have a year to prepare for his new role.

“I will have a full year of preparation for my work, and there will be more appropriate times to discuss specific plans, but I want to affirm from the beginning of this transition my commitment to the mission and core values of Johnson University,” he said. “I fully support the Third Way, Great Commission Mandate ‘to educate students for Christian ministries and other strategic vocations framed by the Great Commission in order to extend the kingdom of God among all nations.’”

Smith holds a B.A. degree from Johnson University, a M.A.R. in Church History from Emmanuel Christian Seminary, and a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Tennessee.

“He has held preaching, associate, youth, and worship ministries in East Tennessee and has engaged in several interim preaching ministries, seeking to assist churches during important transitional periods,” his official university bio says.

Smith is also the author of Above Every Other Desire: A Centennial History of Johnson Bible College.

He and his wife Debbie have two sons, Jacob and Joshua, and six grandchildren.

Weedman announced his retirement to the JU board Feb. 21. and the JU faculty and staff May 8.

Weedman was named president July 1, 2007.


Click here for more information about the president-elect.


Director of Counseling Center, Emily Eisenhart shares advice of how to manage finals stress

KNOXVILLE—On Friday, Emily Eisenhart, director of the university’s counseling center,was interviewed over the topic of how stress can affect students and how students can cope and manage this stress.

“It’s finding that balance…from finding positive ways of relieving stress such as reaching out to family or friends to have someone to debrief with or just to get off campus, and then sometimes food isn’t the best option though,” Eisenhart said.

When asked about how the UCC can serve students dealing with finals stress, Eisenhart answers the question with,”We’re definitely up here, when you come up here you don’t have to commit if you just need some support.

“It’s the end of the semester, you’re thinking about getting out of the dorms, summer plans, yet you’re in the in-between stage of being almost done, yet these grades for finals may be a lot heavier than the other grades during the semester,” she added.

Eisenhart advises students to manage their schedules and food intake wisely during finals week.

“Finals week may be that week to pull back from some of the other activities going on outside of academics,” she said. “Make sure you’re eating, but limiting the sugar and caffeine intake, usually that gives a surge of energy and then you’ll get a crash that has the reverse effect.”

Eisenhart also stresses the importance of taking a brief break from studying.

“Movement can be really important, breaks are too. Taking 60-90 minute study times and then a 10-20 minute break is good,” she said. “Going for a walk and listening to music is a way that lets the mind take a rest from the stimulation it has gone through with studying.”

Eisenhart adds that taking a break to be on your phone isn’t helping your mind because it is still stimulating the brain. Lastly, she advises students on how to cope with anxiety.

“If anxiety is what is keeping you from studying the first thing is to not ignore it. Take a moment to figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself, so you can focus without trying to fight anxiety,” she said.

If you need to reach the University Counseling Center, their number is 865-251-2217, and they are open from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. The UCC is located in Myrtle Hall directly behind the Gally Commons.


Graduation approaches for Johnson community; JUTN student prepares for transition

KNOXVILLE — For graduating seniors and their families, commencement is a time of celebration, remembrance and recognition of accomplishments.  For university faculty and staff, it is a time to say goodbye to another class. 

“It [graduation] is one of the biggest events for Johnson University each year,” Andrew Frazier, JU associate registrar said. “And, it is the culminating moment for each of our students who [have] worked so hard to reach the completion of their degrees.”

This year, JUTN’s commencement ceremony is slated for 3 p.m., April 29, at The Sevierville Convention Center, located at 202 Gists Creek Rd, Sevierville, Tennessee, 37876.

Students who are participating in the ceremony should arrive at 1 p.m.

“We are excited to be back for our second year at The Sevierville Convention Center, which is a wonderful venue that continues to give us room to grow as we graduate more and more students each year,” Frazier said.

Rehearsal for the ceremony is set for 2 p.m., April 28, in the Phillips-Welshimer Gymnasium. Graduating seniors and faculty are asked to attend.

Following rehearsal, Gary and Janis Weedman are hosting a graduate reception at 3:30 p.m. at the White House. Immediate family of graduates are invited to this event as well.

“It truly is a joy to get to work together with almost every office in bringing about a successful and memorable graduation for our students,” Frazier said.

Two hundred and fifty-four students are participating in the commencement ceremony, including students from the JU Tennessee campus, online students and ExtendEd students. Eight students will receive associate degrees, 179 students will receive bachelor’s degrees, 62 students will receive master’s degrees, and five students will receive doctoral degrees.

The graduation keynote speaker is Ken Mahanes, the vice president for religious life, and the special adviser to the president, at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Senior Class President Tyler Davis will also make remarks.

Written Report: Abbey Whitaker

Video Report: Thomas Davis Jr.


Annual career fair provides opportunities to enhance future

KNOXVILLE— Tomorrow from 1-4 p.m. JUTN will host the third annual career fair in the Philip-Welshimer gymnasium.

The purpose of the career fair is to give graduating seniors and current students opportunities to enhance their future after graduation.

This includes providing opportunities for summer jobs and internships.

There will be representatives from churches, camps, for profit companies and non-profit organizations present.

Amanda Newkirk, the career fair coordinator, said “We really tried to see what the students needed and then we sought out those type of employers.”

As of now, there are forty organizations attending the career fair. Below is a list of some organizations that plan to attend.

  • Emerald Youth Foundation
  • Life Line Screening
  • Harvest Pointe Church
  • StaffSource
  • Primerica
  • Wilderness at the Smokies
  • American Senior Benefits
  • Youth Works
  • Elevate Christian Church
  • Historic Ramsey House
  • Mountain Mission School
  • Titusville Church of Christ
  • Shift Church
  • Knox Area Rescue Ministries
  • DayStar Childcare and Infant Learning Center
  • Cirrus Aircraft
  • Christian Campus Fellowship at Florida State University
  • ChildCare Careers
  • Tennessee’s Community Assistance Corporation
  • Disciple Makers, Inc
  • Christway Christian Church
  • Renaissance Healthcare Group
  • Christian Student Fellowship
  • Holston UM Home For Children
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Wears Valley Ranch
  • KaTom Restaurant Supply Inc.
  • Steele’s Chapel Christian Church
  • Christian Student Foundation
  • Mountainside Church
  • His Hands, Inc.
  • Rich Acres Christian Church
  • Under Armour
  • Helping His Hands Disaster Response

Students should come in nice, casual attire ready to make a professional impression. Treat this as you would any job interview, with your resume on hand to present to employers. There is a chance you could be interviewed on the spot if an employer likes you.

Newkirk also said to bring a positive attitude, “Don’t be afraid to engage employers or ask them questions like: ‘What kind of employee are you looking for?’ ”

It is important for all students to attend the fair to make connections and begin networking.

“Even if you think you already have a job lined up or you already have a part time job, this is a good opportunity just to meet people and make a good impression,” Newkirk said. “So if you need a job next year or even three years from now you can go to them and they’ll be like: “Oh yeah, I remember you.” Because getting a job is mostly about connections and experience.”

Students that attend the career fair will be entered into a drawing to win a Chick-Fil-A gift card. Five gift cards will be given away.


Administrators happy with Best Colleges ranking, question validity of methods used

KNOXVILLE — The website Best Colleges recently released updated lists for the top rated universities of 2017, and Johnson University is listed fourth on their list of Best Colleges in Tennessee.

While JU administrators are always happy for positive publicity, the implications of the placement and the criteria used by the website for selection are vague.

Tommy Smith, Vice President for Academic Affairs, said that lists like these are sometimes not worth noting.

“These rankings are usually done by companies promoting their websites,” he said. “They rank colleges and universities to get traffic to their site; we recognize that there is often an ulterior motive in publishing such rankings and, as such, we don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on them.”

Smith said that one of the reasons this list is questionable is the lack of transparency in the criteria used by Best Colleges to decide which schools are on their lists.

“These companies often rely on IPEDS — government reporting agency which is in the public domain — for their information, but what information they choose and how they interpret it is rarely clear,” he said. “This is why there are often schools on these lists that in many ways are not exemplary. ”

Johnson University President Gary Weedman said he likes where Johnson landed on the ranking list, but he too questioned the validly of the ranking.

He said many universities on the list do not meet what most people would consider a high enough academic standard for such a list.

Despite the lack of knowledge about the criteria used by Best Colleges, Smith said it could lead to positive publicity.

“Prospective students and donors who surf the Web looking for information about Johnson often end up on these sites,” he said. “This can be very helpful from a marketing perspective.”

While the publicity can be a positive for the university, Weedman hopes students will be more discerning when selecting a university.

“I would advise any student not to decide to come here just from finding us, or any other school, on a list,” he said.

Weedman and Smith agreed that some lists are better than others.

“There are rankings that carry a great deal of weight, like the Forbes top 100 financially fit schools list,” Smith said. “This is a very good ranking and a list we definitely want to be on.

“The same goes for the U.S. News and World Report university rankings. With most of these web-based only sites, it is a mixed bag and they are not as reliable,” he added.

Johnson placed 56th on the Forbes 100 Most Financially Fit Colleges list for 2016.

“We were second in the state of Tennessee, two behind Vanderbilt,” Weedman said. “Now that is a legitimate list. It means that we manage what we have very well and, for the size of school that we are, we have good resources.”

Weedman said that even in the case of more affluent lists, the mark of a successful school is the graduating students.

“The ultimate quality is you, the students that we graduate from here who go on feeling good about their education,” he said. “What lists we are on does not mean anything unless you’re satisfied with your education, our donors are satisfied with your education and your parents are satisfied with your education.”