To put yourself on the hot seat at your own inauguration dinner takes courage. Dr. Tom Bogart, new president of Maryville College who was celebrated, feted and inaugurated last week, agreed to an “Ask the President” format for his inauguration dinner on Thursday evening, April 14, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Knoxville.
He might have had a moment of hesitation at that decision when one of the students reading the audience-submitted questions peered over the top of the card in her hand and asked, “Dr. Bogart… boxers or briefs?”
Quick to say, “Just kidding,” and move on to the real question, the student nonetheless inadvertently showcased Maryville College’s new president’s ease in meeting and trying to get to know the students, faculty, staff and community.
When asked to describe some of the favorite aspects of his job as president at Maryville College, Dr. Tom Bogart was quick to answer. “The people…and the view of the mountains from campus doesn’t hurt,” he said.
Bogart, his wife, Mary, and their daughter, Elizabeth, were guests of honor at the dinner, where entertainment was provided by the college’s vocal ensemble, “Off Kilter.” inaugural dinner held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Knoxville the evening of April 14. The dinner featured Maryville College’s vocal ensemble Off Kilter and the theme was “Ask the New President.”
A cross section of the community turned out and Bogart thanked everyone for their kindness. “What has been amazing is how many people here have made us feel welcome,” he said.
Amidst laughter after answering several light-hearted questions, the president shared some of his goals.
“I want to see Anderson Hall completely renovated. We’re going to finish fundraising for the Clayton Center and we’re going to have a plan laid out to let us celebrate our bicentennial in 2019 in the style in which we have become accustomed,” he said.
Bogart stressed the importance of developing spiritual faith as well as intellect, and said he has been impressed at how area congregations have reached out to students at Maryville College. “Use members of your congregations to connect with our students,” he said.
Several in the audience shared their thoughts on Bogart. Emily Anderson, pastor of, New Providence Presbyterian Church and Maryville College board member, said, “I’ve been struck by his enthusiasm and his intellectual depth. He’s an easy, fun-loving person to be around, very bright and perceptive and asks good questions. He’s going to be great in helping us tackle tough issues and build community at the college.”
The Rev. Anne McKee, Maryville College campus minister, said Bogart’s faith is clearly very personal to him. “He’ll move the college in a good direction,” she said.
Joe Dawson said Bogart is an extremely likeable person and is very positive and uplifting. “It makes you enjoy being around him,” he said. “It’s a tough time for colleges and to have someone with that charisma, that is good.”
Joy Bishop said what she likes about Bogart is his enthusiasm for the college and the community. “My only advice would be keep doing what he is doing and continue making a good impression,” she said.
Brenda Sellers, president and CEO of Chroma Graphics, also pointed to Bogart’s enthusiasm as an important trait. “I think his enthusiasm and energy are the first thing I noticed,” she said.
Adriel McCord, Blount County president and client advisor with SunTrust and chair of the board of Leadership Blount, said the best advice he could give Bogart would be seek advice from those who have lived here all their lives as well as those who have chosen to move and raise their families in Blount County. “They bring different perspectives,” McCord said.
Carrie McConkey, director of placement, Center for Calling and Career, said Bogart has made a consistent effort to learn more about the college and the community since he started in the summer of 2010. “He hit the ground running and has been gaining momentum ever since. He came in July and by homecoming in October, it appeared he had been here for 10 years,” she said.
Eric Etchison, sports information director, said Bogart related to everyone from the students to the staff. “His enthusiasm shows through in all his actions,” he said.
Kandis Schram, athletic director, said she appreciated Bogart’s work ethic. “I liked his willingness to get right in there and be one of us,” she said. “He has a genuine energy level, and he’s willing to be available.”
Vandy Kemp, Maryville College vice president and dean of students, said she appreciated Bogart because he is a man of great faith. “He comes to work with joy everyday and that is infectious,” she said. “I trust, him and the future is very bright.”
Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor said Bogart’s diverse background will make him a strong president at Maryville College. “He’s obviously well-suited to the different aspects of being a college president because he has such a diversity of background,” he said.
Bo and Shirley Henry shared their enthusiasm for Bogart. “Tom has impressed me by the way he has blended into the college community and the communities of Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County,” Bo Henry said, to which Shirley Henry added, “He listens to everybody. He’s so easy to get to know, and we’re so proud of him.”
Steve West said Bogart has made an effort to reach out to Knox and surrounding areas. “He will take the things Dr. (Gerald) Gibson brought to us and build them up and put his own brand on them,” West said.