Carson-Newman University will hold its Winter Commencement ceremony on Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. in the Sevierville Convention Center.

Dr. Beth Rushing, a 1981 C-N alumna, will address the December graduates. Rushing is president of the Appalachian College Association (ACA), a consortium of 34 private colleges and universities in Appalachia that offers collaborative opportunities and support for faculty, staff and students at member institutions.

 “We are so honored to have one of our own to return and speak to our graduates,” said University President Charles A. Fowler. “Throughout her career, Dr. Rushing has consistently demonstrated what it means to be a servant-leader. Her unwavering commitment to advancing higher education is to be commended, and her example is one our graduates can look to as they prepare for this new life-chapter of serving Christ and serving others.”

Prior to her 2017 appointment as president of the ACA, Rushing served as chief academic officer at Guilford College, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and the University of Washington Tacoma. She also served as dean of Arts and Sciences at Georgia College, and department chair at the University of Tennessee at Martin. She began her academic career on the faculty of the Department of Sociology at Kent State University.

After receiving her baccalaureate degree in sociology from C-N, she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from Duke University. Her scholarly work has focused on the sociology of work, gender and health. She served as president of the Southern Sociological Society and of Sociologists for Women in Society. She is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Leadership Award from the University of Washington Tacoma, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Professor at Georgia College, University Teaching Council Award from Kent State University and Outstanding Faculty Member from Kent State’s Mortar Board.

Beth and her husband, Michael Gass, live in Walland, Tennessee.

Those unable to attend will be able to view the ceremony online at:

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Carson-Newman offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The institution’s website is