KNOXVILLE On Friday, Sept. 21, at 3 p.m., in the Phillips-Welshimer gym, Johnson University inaugurated its seventh president, L. Thomas Smith Jr.
Various faculty, institutional leaders, community members, students, and others, welcomed those in attendance in person and online via livestream.
“Your presence also represents your participation, prayer and encouragement towards the achievement of Johnson University’s mission and your prayerful support of Dr. Smith’s role in leading the pursuit of that mission,” said Jon Weatherly, Provost. “For those we are especially grateful.”
Former President Gary Weedman gave his thoughts titled “Reflections of a Presidential Mentor” to encourage and show support for his successor.
“As provost you had to deal with deans, faculty and accrediting agencies,” said Weedman. “Now you have a Board of Trustees and senior administrators and staff and faculty and the budget. You have students and parents and alumni and friends of the university, and the budget…You have a wife and children and grandchildren and in-laws and yes, the budget. You get the point.”
Smith was welcomed into presidency with three gifts a Bible that was compiled and signed by Ashley S. Johnson, the founder of the university, a medallion with the college motto, and a portrait of himself which will be hung in the Marble Hallway of the Phillips-Welshimer Building, beside the portraits of the previous six presidents.
The Board of Trustees, the campus community, and the extended community all pledged to pray for the new president.
Former President David Eubanks also spoke and encouraged Smith with charges from Jesus, Paul, and other various biblical figures.
Smith gave his inaugural address which was titled “Take Care Lest We Forget” from Deuteronomy 6:10-13. In it he said that he and the university must not forget to take care of the great gifts that we have inherited from those who have gone before us and charged the university to be a good steward of its many gifts.
The Johnson University choirs performed throughout the event.
Following the ceremony, was a reception at the White House lawn where students, staff and alumni were invited to socialize and celebrate with the new president and first lady.
JU Students celebrate alongside new president
The student event kicked off at 6 p.m. with the Cruze Farm ice-cream truck on campus to give away ice-cream to the students, faculty, and campus guests. Other events included games like Kan Jam, corn hole, and 9 Square Up in the Air which President Smith played along with students.
President Smith and some of the students who played with him in 9 Square Up in the Air.
Morgan Kast, a sophomore majoring in Intercultural Studies, said that she is excited to see what President Smith will do for the university.
“…I think that he’s a really humble leader already,” Kast said. “I can see that off the bat, so I’m really excited and I think that he’ll do great things for our school.”
Kast also said that she enjoyed the events of the day.
It was really unique and it was really cool to be able to be a part of history for our school, because something like that will probably not happen (again) before I graduate,” Kast said.
Written by Domanic Hildebrand, Sydney Mckneelen, Bekah Ochs, Kayla Slichter, and Jenna Stahlman, Royal Scribe Staff
Photo from Nike.com
The story behind the ad
Nike, one of the top shoe and athletic apparel companies in the world, known for its iconic slogan “Just Do It,” recently announced the face of its 30th-anniversary campaign. Nike picked Colin Kaepernick, the controversial, former NFL quarterback, to be the iconic face of the new advertisement.
Kaepernick is known for inspiring players to kneel during pregame national anthem activities at football games. He began kneeling in protest of racial injustice back in 2016. This act of protest quickly became a popular movement among NFL players. This caused an uproar from a variety of Americans across the nation, all debating whether or not kneeling during the national anthem is considered disrespectful.
When the Kaepernick advertisement initially aired, Nike stock started to fall. However, according to Nike’s website, a few days later their stocks had regained all lost value and increased by four percent.
According to People.com, political figures including President Donald Trump, have spoken out against the campaign and Nike’s decision to have Kaepernick as the face of their advertisement. Some of those politicians are now stepping back from their words, like Louisiana Mayor Ben Zahn who banned the purchase of Nike products in local facilities.
The Kaepernick advertisement has the phrase, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This phrase and the likeness of the Nike advertisement has now become an internet “meme” sensation.
The history behind Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is rooted in the idea that they wanted to break their market scope of just athletes and widen the scope to everyone. According to Complex.com, the campaign was successful when, after its 1988 launch, Nike’s sales increased by 1,000 percent. Nike officials credit the campaign with keeping the company financially afloat that year.
JU athletes see Nike campaign as business move
Some student-athletes at JU believe that the recent Nike campaign was a financial choice.
Riley Reinhardt, a JU tennis athlete, Journey Bennington, a JU frisbee team member, and Kandace Troxell, a JU volleyball athlete, share similar views on the recent Nike campaign. The student-athletes said that the recent signing with Kaepernick was a financial play.
“Most businesses need to take risks to make money and I think that is what Nike did,” Bennington said.
Similar to what Bennington stated, Reinhardt said, “Nike is a corporation, so they are going to do what every corporation does, and that is make money.”
“He [Kaepernick] is a provocative character and Nike has made more money because they chose Colin Kaepernick, because people are talking about it,” Reinhardt said. “It doesn’t really affect me because I understand that Nike is a business and they want to make money.”
Within the past year, Johnson University signed a six-year contract with Adidas. According to Ben fair, Assistant Athletic Director, the decision was made before the Nike campaign.
“We explored all of our options,” Fair said. “Adidas was going to give us a quality product at the best price.”
JU athletes propose alternative representative for Nike campaign
All three student-athletes advocated for a different icon to represent the Nike company. This does not change their views on the quality of the merchandise.
Both Reinhardt and Troxell suggested that Lebron James would be a strong representation for the tagline that Nike created with their campaign, “Just do it, even if it means sacrificing everything,”
“I don’t think that Nike had to pick some provocative athlete,” Reinhardt said. “I’m not a huge fan of Lebron James but what he has done in the community has been a great example of how athletes should give back and how athletes should set an example for how they want to lead their communities.”
“He definitely cares about social justice and he is well-liked by most people…”
According to GiveMeSport, Lebron James, basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, is a strong example of what a sacrificial athlete should look like.
Reinhardt, Troxell and Bennington agreed that the campaign does not impact whether they will buy Nike products in the future.
Though some feel the financial play Nike made by choosing Kaepernick may not have been the best representation for a sacrificial athlete, the choice has brought an increase in publicity and sales.
While these student-athletes may not have agreed with the choice, the recent campaign has not phased them enough to alter their relationship with Nike.
JU athletes’ opinions on Kaepernick’s sacrifice
JU athletes had varying opinions on whether or not Kaepernick sacrificed everything when he decided to kneel in protest of social injustice on the football field.
“In speaking out for what he believed in, he sacrificed what was his everything – which was his football career,” Trent Fleming, JU basketball player, said.
Others believe that he made the decision to take a stance on his own, so the repercussions are his to deal with.
“He chose to separate himself from the notions of the NFL,” Thomas Williams, JU baseball player, said.
Troxell believes that Kaepernick sacrificed his career. However, she said it is a far cry from military sacrifice.
“I think a lot of people will compare that to military sacrificing everything, which I think is a pretty stark contrast,” Troxell said.
Troxell said that she does believe Kaepernick sacrificed his career and reputation. “He was a really well known, really liked football player until he made the stance, and now he’s very much hated by a lot of people and he can’t play football ever again,” she said.
Troxell said that she believes Kaepernick did not intend to disrespect military, but that he only wanted to shed light on social injustice in the country. However, she said many others who are familiar with this controversy view it differently.
“I have a brother who is in the military, so for me it has kind of always been a struggle, because I understand where he’s coming from, but I also understand why these people are mad,” she said.
Troxell said she comes from a large military family, and her brother, Jake Troxell, has served in the Navy for a year and a half. She said because of this, she understands what sacrifice means to those who serve and their loved ones.
Reinhardt said that another face he believes would represent Nike’s sacrifice campaign well would be Pat Tillman. According to USA Today, others agree with this as well.
After the September 11 attacks, Tillman left his NFL career behind in 2002 to enlist in the United States Army as an Army Ranger, so that he could fight for his country. In 2004, Tillman was killed by friendly fire while serving in Afghanistan.
Pat Tillman representing the Nike campaign in a mock ad (Photo from usatoday.com).
JU athletes indifferent to sporting Nike gear
The impact on the athletes’ relationships with the company is minimal. The students who were interviewed for this story, and who purchased and wore Nike products before, said they are going to continue doing so without any thought over the politics of it.
Troxell said that since she believes Nike chose Kaepernick as the face of their campaign simply as a financial move, it does not necessarily make her want to purchase more Nike products.
“I don’t think it’s changed a lot, especially because I don’t think it’s a lot of a social justice move on their part,” Troxell said. “I think maybe if I felt that way I would like Nike more, but I just think that they did it from a financial standpoint.”
The Biblical perspective from JU student and Staff
Whether they agree with it or not, Kaepernick’s definition of sacrifice has caught the attention of fellow Christians.
Cal Kinman, a preaching and youth ministry major, defined sacrifice as “giving up one’s desires or aspirations for the sake of a greater cause.”
In Christianity, the ultimate sacrifice was Jesus dying on the cross. In comparison to this, Kinman said he believes that Kaepernick had more selfish intentions with his sacrifices.
Rafael Rodriguez, Professor of New Testament, agreed with Kinman, saying, the ad itself had selfish intentions behind it. “Nike cares less about Colin Kaepernick and more about you,” he said. “What Nike actually wants you to do is buy their products.”
On terms of biblical sacrifice, Rodriguez compares Jesus on the cross to the shoe company’s advertisement.
“Jesus on the cross — there is a picture of sacrifice where I can say, ‘that cost him something,’” he said. “Then I look at a shoe company using that same word [sacrifice], I’m going to get a bit cynical about that.”
“Buying shoes is different than sacrifice. Buying shoes is consumerism,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not a bad thing, but not a noble thing either.”
Heather Gorman, Associate Professor of New Testament, defined sacrifice as “giving up yourself or something that is yours, for the benefit of others.”
Gorman said she actually finds similarities between the actions of Kaepernick and what Jesus did for his people.
She said, “The idea of sacrificing your reputation for the good of others, especially the oppressed and those experiencing injustice, is very consistent with what we see in the Bible.”
When it came time to find the seventh President of Johnson University, the Board of Trustees knew they were looking for someone who was a Johnson University alumnus, knew how to raise funds, and whose character is above reproach. They found their prime candidate in Dr Thomas Smith.
“We spent two to three hours in the interview,” Smith said. “(The Board of Trustees) had a long list of questions that they went through that were very tough questions. None of them were surprises to me which led me to feel like I had been well prepared.”
Smith has a long history with Johnson University. He graduated from Johnson Bible College with his B.A. in 1978. He then was in located ministry for six years. After receiving his M.A.R. from Emmanuel School of Religion in 1986 and his PhD from the University of Tennessee in 1990, he came back and began teaching at JU in 1989. After serving as a professor of history and theology, he served as the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 2012 to 2014 and as the Provost from 2014 to 2017 before beginning his tenure as President.
However, Smith is more than his academic and career accomplishments. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees L.D. Campbell says that Smith is personable, enjoys people, is approachable, enjoys a good laugh and is an excellent preacher.
Professor Gerald Mattingly, who has known Smith for almost 30 years, described him as “a good person with a sound analytical mind and a disarming down-to-earth quality,” which he went on to say is good for someone who is assuming the role of the presidency.
Smith has somebig goals for his presidency. Among them are recommitting the university to the mission of the university, improving math and science classes, and improving college athletics.
One of the key aspects he wants to refocus on is being faithful to the great commision. He feels the “Third Way”, which is a blend of a bible college approach and liberal arts college approach, can accomplish this goal by rounding out students’ education experiences.
The university has also begun studying how it can improve its math and science classes, which Smith feels will go a long way in benefiting Teacher Education and Health and Human Services majors among many others.
Smith also wants university athletics to recruit students based on what he called the “Johnson Triad”: people who are missionary committed, academically prepared, and competitive athletes. “There is all kind of benefits both for athletics and for the student body,” Smith said. “It boosts student morale, gives you stuff to do, and creates relationships. It’s kind of an overstatement, but in the past we’ve done athletics because we ‘had to’. I want to do it because we want to.
This will be Johnson’s fifth inauguration in its history. He hopes students will come to the ceremony, but he also hopes to see them at the student event later in the evening as well. He asks that all students help make the campus look nice and that they themselves look nice as well.
“It’s important to me that students feel welcomed and included at this event,” Smith said.
Smith wants people to know that his inauguration is not a celebration of him or the office, but rather a celebration of the university. The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. and will be followed by a reception on the White House lawn at 4:30. The student event will take place at 6:30 on the Gally Plaza and will offer games, food and a Cruze Farm ice cream truck, which Smith said, “ain’t bad to entice students with.”
Johnson University’s official student publication, The Royal Scribe, has brand new staff for the 2018-19 academic year.
The new advisor for the Royal Scribe is Inez Reyes. Inez joined Johnson last semester as a speech professor. She graduated from Orangeburg Wilkinson High School in South Carolina. She then received her Bachelor’s in Marketing from South Carolina State University and her Master’s in Media Communications from Governors State University. Her hobbies include reading, teaching, sewing, and building things. Some of her passions include health and nutrition, as well as God and His love for humanity. She is married to Mubanga Chisulo. She has two daughters – Dania Reyes, 14, and Anya Reyes, 7. Her favorite thing about Johnson is the atmosphere and the friendliness of the campus.
Jenna Stahlman is the Editor of the Royal Scribe. She was born and raised in Summerville, PA. She graduated from homeschooling in 2016. This was also when her family moved to the Sevierville, TN area. She is majoring in mass communications. Although she is not yet sure what career path she wants to pursue, she would love to be involved in the horse or rodeo industry in some way. Her hobbies and passions include her horse Rusty, hiking, fishing, photography, being in nature, and southern culture. She is a country music enthusiast, specifically older country. She also has a cat and dog. Her favorite thing about Johnson is the beautiful setting of the campus, the relationships she has made so far, and the doors that have opened, bringing new opportunities.
Drew Tapp is Royal Scribe’s Assistant Editor. He graduated from Southport High School in Indianapolis, IN. He is a freshman studying Preaching and Youth Ministry. In addition to working in youth ministry, Drew hopes to obtain his master’s and doctorate in the New Testament. One thing he would enjoy in the future is watching a kid bring their friend to Christ and then baptizing them, as he has a heart for middle and high school students and believes that they will radically change the world. Some of his hobbies include crosswords, watching Netflix, and spending time with friends. His passions include working with refugees and supporting his friends. He wanted to attend Johnson because of the belonging he felt when visiting, and the great ministry program. He appreciates the uncommon community and the support and love people give each other at Johnson. His favorite thing about the local area is getting to the top of a hike and looking out at the view. It reminds him that things in life may seem big and impossible to deal with, but in reality are quite small, and he serves a great God who will help him through them.
Madison Buchanan is Copy Editor of the Royal Scribe. She graduated from Robinson High School in Robinson, IL. She is currently a junior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English. With that, she hopes to teach middle school or high school English. In addition, Madison hopes to work with missional organizations and write for them. She also desires to publish a book someday. Her hobbies include reading, hanging out with family and friends, and listening to music. Her passions are writing, tennis, and social justice. She has a Husky/Shepherd named Sully, and two cats. Madison desired to go to a Christian University that offered an English degree, where she thought she would be challenged, in both her major and her faith. She loves the community of Johnson. Her favorite thing about the Smoky Mountains are the beautiful views, as she is from a state where everything is flat and in cornfields.
Kyara Vinales is a reporter for the Royal Scribe from the Florida campus. Her hometown is Kissimmee, FL. She graduated from Gateway High school just down the street from campus. She is a senior pursuing a Bachelor’s in Worship Ministry. She hopes to be able to use that to facilitate worship in a unique way. She desires to serve along side her husband, Isaias, who wants to become a pastor. Her hobbies include playing guitar and singing, painting, drawing, and crocheting. Kyara is passionate about helping people and discipling them, and incorporating art into the Christian faith as another way of worship. In searching for a college, she wanted one that was close to home and based off of the Word of God, and Johnson fit that. Her favorite thing about Johnson is how Scripture based the university is and that they require students to major in Bible and Theology in addition to their chosen major.
KNOXVILLE Johnson University will hold their first Fall Commencement this year.
Fall Commencement will be held Saturday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. in the Phillips-Welshimer gym. It is mandatory that all graduates arrive early, at 10:30 a.m., for rehearsal.
Students planning on graduating at the end of this semester should fill out the intent to graduate form by Sept. 15. This form is mandatory for all prospective graduates, regardless of whether or not they participate in the Commencement ceremony.
Students are expected to participate, however, if they are not able to for any reason, they must notify the registrar to be granted permission in advance. Even if graduating in absentia, the student is still required to pay the graduation fee in order to receive their diploma.
Students in solo class were treated to a performance by the Kimberlin Heights Trio Friday. The trio has performed together since the spring and is made up of JU Provost Jon Weatherly, right, JU Music Professor Don Trentham, middle, and JU Bible Professor Jerome Princeton.