Mississippi College

MC Graduate Leads Carson-Newman College

July 15, 2008

A Mississippi College graduate and successful leader at Baylor University, J. Randall O'Brien is the new president at Carson-Newman College in Tennessee.

A McComb native, O'Brien becomes the 22nd president of the Christian college in Jefferson City, Tennessee. A former associate professor of religion, he served as executive vice president and provost at Baylor in Waco, Texas for the past three years.

"By almost every objective measure, Baylor is on a powerful upward trajectory," O'Brien said in a university news release. "Baylor University has been good to us for 17 wonderful years. Baylor has been home."

He and his wife, Kay, are both MC alums. "Along with our new Carson-Newman family, Kay and I celebrate all that God has done, is doing and is going to do through Carson-Newman..." he said in a statement released by Carson-Newman officials.

With a little more than 2,000 students, Carson-Newman is a top-notch liberal arts college. He goes to work as the school's leader on a part-time basis in August and full-time in January.

O'Brien also holds degrees from Yale Divinity School and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He's completed additional studies at Harvard and Oxford universities. He's served as interim pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio since January 2007. An ordained Baptist minister, he's worked as interim pastor at 15 Texas Baptist churches over the years. The Carson-Newman president and his wife are the parents of two daughters.

At Baylor, O'Brien worked closely with President John M. Lilley as the university's chief academic officer.

Dr. Edward McMillan, a retired vice president for graduate studies at MC, said O'Brien has a stellar reputation in MC academic circles and beyond. "People on campus speak highly of him," the Clinton resident said Tuesday. "It is a fortunate decision for Carson-Newman to get him as president."

Carson-Newman leaders selected the Mississippi native for the position earlier this month.

PHOTO: J. Randall O'Brien

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