Hummel met with people throughout the region and campus community last week to introduce himself and share his vision for the Christian university.
Hummel is a 30-year education professional who previously worked in various high-level positions at his alma mater, William Carey University, where he closely advised university leadership. On Wednesday, the Press asked him to tell us a bit about himself and his goals as president.
Favorite food: “I have many favorites, from Cajun to Thai to Middle Eastern.”
Dogs or cats: “I have both, but I am partial to cats.”
Favorite musicians: “I like Christian musicians such as Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin and country musicians like Mark Wills and Garth Brooks.”
Hobbies: “Riding my motorcycle, hiking and reading historical biographies.”
Favorite movie of 2019: “I only saw one movie in 2019, so it would be ‘Joker.’”
What got you into working in education, and what led you to Tusculum?
I was a first-generation college student, and I had great professors who invested in me. As a result, I wanted to become a professor. As a professor, I loved the academic stimulation as well as the opportunity to invest in my students. I was increasingly invited to fulfill administrative duties such as leading an academic department and directing the honors program. As a vice president, then provost and now president, I get to serve an entire university as it invests in the next generation of students.
What are some of your goals as president?
A core goal is to help all students discover their purpose and calling and then be equipped to answer that calling. Building upon and strengthening the Judeo-Christian environment and the Tusculum family are important to me. A major goal is to grow enrollment and build new programs that meet employer needs and improve the quality of life in the region.
What developments at Tusculum are you most excited about?
The recently completed Meen Center is a phenomenal asset, which significantly enhances Tusculum’s health sciences and STEM education, is one. With the extent of diabetic-related eye disease in the area, the Niswonger College of Optometry has the potential to tangibly improve the health care outcomes of the region.
What do you think makes Tusculum a unique institution?
As the oldest higher education institution in Tennessee, Tusculum has a rich history but also a bright future. As a faith-based institution with a strong emphasis on civic engagement, Tusculum doesn’t just prepare students for jobs, it prepares students for life. Tusculum graduates are prepared for jobs, prepared to adapt to a changing environment and prepared to make a difference in their communities.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in higher education?
While cost is certainly a challenge, a university education is still a very good investment. Too many students start but do not finish college, so I think a bigger challenge is helping to ensure all students are able to complete their education. A university like Tusculum, with its dedicated faculty and family environment, helps ensure every student is known and is supported to succeed.