Maryville College: Preparing students to lead, serve

Ruth Fox, left, spends time with grandsons Barrett, Brody and Harrison Schwall on Maryville College campus.

Ruth Fox, left, spends time with grandsons Barrett, Brody and Harrison Schwall on Maryville College campus.

Maryville College isn’t really “nestled” in downtown Maryville. The impressive campus with its rolling lawn, mature trees and ivy-league style buildings looms large on the landscape, a stirring presence that Blount Countains can point to with pride.

Maryville College is a 4-year liberal arts college with roots dating back to its founding in 1819. It is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college has a rich history of academic excellence, with a focus on liberal arts and music, and of championing civil rights and cultural and community involvement.

While numbers for this fall weren’t available, the college said that with a total enrollment of 1,114 in the fall of 2008, the student body represented approximately 29 states, 19 countries and 1 territory. For the fall of 2009, 306 freshmen were expected to come to Maryville College to begin their college experience. “Last year we had 297. The 306 number, if that’s how it shakes out, will be the third highest enrollment in recent history,” said Karen Eldridge, director of communications.

Vandy Kemp, vice president and dean of students, said new students participate in orientation to get acquainted with their peers through such activities as Mountain Challenge obstacle/ropes course and other activities. The students also learn their way around campus, she said.

“By the time classes start, everyone new to campus knows how it ticks and how to be successful. It goes back to upper classmen who learn how to mentor new students. They have been there and can relate better than we can,” she said.

Kemp said August is a busy time on campus with coaches and athletes preparing for fall sports and residence hall staff and faculty getting ready for students.

“It’s the busiest time of year, but it feels good when students are back because that’s why we do we what we do. It’s good to have them back,” she said.

The full-time faculty boast 90 percent with doctoral degrees or appropriate terminal degrees. The student/faculty ratio is 12 to 1, with an average class size of 14. Personalized instruction and student-professor contact are the hallmarks of a Maryville College education.

More than sixty fields of study are offered, with pre-professional programs such as pre-med, pre-law, business, pre-seminary, pre-dentistry, and pre-vet. Traditional liberal arts programs of study are the core of a Maryville College instruction, including fine arts, history, math, sciences, languages and literature. Degrees offered are Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees, with certification available in elementary and secondary education. Dual degree programs are offered in engineering and health care/nursing.

On the sports fields, Maryville College is a member of the NCAA’s Division III. The college offers 14 varsity sports. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, football, soccer and tennis. Women’s sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball. Club sports include an equestrian team, ultimate Frisbee, swimming and dance. Intramural sports are also offered. Accreditation is with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Association of Schools of Music.

President of the college is Dr. Gerald Gibson.

Following are some of the honors, programs and interesting student adventures from Maryville College.

Green initiatives at MC’s business office save more than greenbacks

Even at a small institution like Maryville College, seven years’ worth of paperwork takes up a lot of space. However, seven years is how long tax experts suggest keeping important documents, like the college’s records for the thousands of students who matriculate during that time.

Adding to the clutter are the records for accounts payable, cancelled checks and various reports produced at MC’s business office.

In an effort to free up valuable storage space, employees recently started scanning invoices, eliminating the paper copies in favor of digital ones.

“The long-term goal is to become more paperless. Files will be more readily accessible on computers as we scan documents and offer more information online,” assistant vice president of finance Nancy Pyanoe explains.

Although the monetary savings are minimal at this point, the amount of time saved is significant.

“If we need a file from four years ago, we have to go down to the basement and dig it out,” Pyanoe said. “That is time-consuming.”

Another area of savings is banking fees. With the convenience of online banking, office staff is able to look up checks posted and cleared with the click of a mouse. Although the office currently keeps cancelled checks, Pyanoe said they are planning to phase out that practice.

Having tackled the problem of containing paper from off campus sources, they turned to reducing the amount of paper generated within the office.

One solution is the advent of online student registration forms.

Each MC student is required to complete a Vehicle Registration/Waiver Request Form, Health Insurance Form, IRIS Emergency Communications Form and Credit Balances on Student Accounts Form at the beginning of each academic year. Of particular importance is the IRIS Emergency Communications Form, Pyanoe said. IRIS is the College’s emergency communications system that emails, texts and calls students, faculty and staff in case of a campus emergency.

“By inputting student contact information before they arrive, IRIS will be up and running in case of an emergency early in the fall semester,” Pyanoe emphasized.

Online submission of these forms saves paper, postage and that priceless commodity we all need more of: Time.

Semester bills are still mailed bi-annually and statements are mailed monthly if a balance is due, but Pyanoe hopes to offer online statements in the near future, saving even more money and offering MC families a “greener” option.

Seat saved: Ruth Fox honors family with donations to Clayton Center

Ruth Light Fox doesn’t think of herself as an artistic person, but that doesn’t keep her from appreciating good music, striking visuals or dramatic stories.

In fact, when the Clayton Center for the Arts opens in Spring 2010, Fox intends to be a regular patron of the concerts, plays, recitals and shows performed and exhibited there.

And she hopes her grandsons will accompany her, as well.

Located on the campus of Maryville College and constructed through a partnership of the College, the cities of Maryville and Alcoa, and state and federal governments, the Clayton Center will celebrate the art and culture of the Appalachian region by serving as a venue for local musicians, performers and artists. Its design will also accommodate plays and musicals, concerts by touring musicians and orchestras, traveling art exhibits, film series, children’s plays and presentations by nationally recognized speakers.

Fox, a member of the College’s Class of 1964, recently made a donation to the Clayton Center. With that money, a seat in the main performance hall will bear her name and three outdoor brick pavers will display the names of grandsons Barrett, Harrison and Brody Schwall.

“I’d like to see them involved in the arts,” she said of her grandsons who are 7, 5 and 3 years of age. “I don’t know what they’ll do, but I think exposing them to the arts at this age is important. It makes them more well-rounded and broadens their outlook on life.”

Fox attended the topping-out and naming ceremony for the Clayton Center back in April. While people had the chance to sign their names on the last piece of steel that would be added to the building, Fox signed not only her name, but her mother’s name, Mary Elizabeth Ammons Light.

Light graduated from the College in 1934, and Fox’s mother-in-law, Mabel Blackburn Fox, was a graduate of the class of 1929. Fox said both were “very artistic” and, had they lived to see the facility constructed, would be pleased to see a new gathering place for artists and art-lovers in the region opening on their alma mater’s campus.

By placing her name and those of her grandchildren on things inside and outside the facility, Fox said she isn’t just showing her support of the arts and the partnership to construct the Clayton Center, she’s extending the name - and the memory - of her family.

“And it’s affordable,” she points out for people who are thinking about making a gift.

Fundraising continues for the Clayton Center for the Arts. Approximately $40.5 million has been raised on the $47 million facility.

Recently, Robert Hutchens, executive director of the Clayton Center, announced specific ways for individuals and businesses to become part of the project.

Seats in the main performance hall may be named for anyone the donor chooses. The cost is $2,000 per seat.

Pavers are $1,000 each, but if named for a student, child or grandchild under the age of 18, the discounted price is $250 each. (Children’s pavers will be laid in a special section in the plaza.)

Spaces in and around the Clayton Center are still available for naming, including the outdoor plaza, the instrumental rehearsal hall and several dressing rooms and practice rooms. Prices tied to named spaces start at $10,000.

Opportunities to purchase VIP benefactor benefits include preferred seating, parking and invitations to special VIP events. People and businesses wishing to sponsor shows, recitals or artist series at the Clayton Center for the Arts, should call Hutchens at 865-981-8264.

For giving opportunity details and forms, visit or contact Holly Jackson-Ludlow, vice president for advancement and community relations, at 865-273-8884 or

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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