In the heart of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains lies the small town of Jefferson City. Along with the history and natural beauty, the pride and joy of this East Tennessee gem is Carson-Newman University.
At the head of this prestigious Christian college is Dr Charles Fowler, hundreds of kilometers from his hometown of Corinth.
Fowler was named Carson-Newman’s 23rd president in June 2019, but the change of scenery and zip codes haven’t affected the Mississippi boy’s love for his hometown.
“I am so proud to be from Corinth,” said Fowler. “Everywhere I go people know that I am from Corinth. I speak about it.”
Fowler began to scroll through the pages of a mental album. “I’m talking about the slugburgers, my home church and the people who helped shape me.”
Fowler’s path to Jefferson City also shaped him into the man of faith and education he is today. The Corinth High School graduate attended Blue Mountain College for two years, after which he enrolled at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, where he graduated in 1986. With his new wife, Sandra, Fowler headed south to New Orleans and signed up for Southern Baptist. Theological seminary, graduated two years later.
Back in his native Mississippi, he earned his doctorate. from Mississippi State University in 1995.
Fowler returned to Union University where he served as vice president of development, professor of Christian ministry and education, and founding executive director of the Union University Foundation for 15 years.
In 2010 he was called to serve as a senior pastor at Germantown Baptist Church in Memphis.
During Fowler’s career in ministry and education, the fingerprints of the city of Corinth were as visible as they always have been.
“I feel like the person I am was, in large part, shaped by these amazing people who taught me,” Fowler said. “A lot of the habits I have now as a university president are my attempts to express the kind of deposits that the people at Corinth High School, Tate Baptist Church and people in the community instilled in me. . “
The university president enthusiastically shared that Corinth had a significant presence at Carson-Newman long before he took office. James T. Warren, another son of Crossroads, was president of Carson-Newman from 1927 to 1948, giving Corinth the great distinction of being the only city outside Tennessee to house two presidents of the institution.
These are the people who flocked into Fowler’s life as a child and into a young man who hold such a special place in his heart.
“Some of my high school teachers and coaches and members of the Tate Baptist – with whom I still have a close bond. They loved me. They have been mentors and encouragement, ”he explained.
Still early in his presidency, Fowler already has big plans for the future. Together with the directors of Carson-Newman, Fowler developed a five-year strategic initiative titled “From Acorns to Oaks: Pursuing God’s Preferred Future.” The bold plan calls for new academic programs and new advanced facilities, in the hope of “growing in academic excellence and genuineness of the faith.”
Fowler believes his hometown gave him the wisdom to lead Carson-Newman University.
“I always feel that because I have been called to ministry and ordained at Tate Baptist Church, my ministry, wherever it goes, is an extension of the ministry of Tate Baptist Church and of the inhabitants of Corinth. “