The Spirit of the Covenant


It was 2004 when a much (no … let’s say slightly) younger Jesse Smith stood with his orientation group near Anderson Hall and was first introduced to the Maryville College Covenant. I loved the idea of a community who united in these three standards.

My four years here at Maryville College was filled with professors, students, and staff who exemplified the ideals of Scholarship, Respect, and Integrity. I have been back at Maryville College as a faculty member for five years, and I am pleased to report this has not changed.

It has been an honor to chair Keepers of the Covenant for three years now. During this time, I have learned many things, deepened my understanding of these three tenants, worked with others to find ways to keep the Maryville College Covenant an important part of our community, and have assisted in identifying members of our Maryville College community that embody the Spirit of the Covenant.

On April 8, 2019, the Keepers of the Covenant recognized 5 outstanding members of the community who live lives full of scholarship, respect, and integrity. I and fellow Keeper Andrew Brittain congratulated those 5 incredible people on stage at the Annual Leadership Awards. This year the Keepers gave each Spirit of the Covenant Award winner a 3D printed Covenant Stone and the book “Maryville College: Noble, Grand, and True for Two Centuries.”

Since those 5 were chosen as examples of embodiments of the Maryville College Covenant, I would like to share a little bit about each of them with you.

A nominator for our first winner said, “Since the moment we stepped on campus, this student was immediately a leader on campus. He promptly joined the Student Government Association, Concert Choir, Peace and World Concerns, and many more important organizations on campus. His style of leadership is one that puts others first, promoting integrity at its finest.”

“Throughout his four-years here, he has taken every opportunity provided to him to learn, help others, and promote the covenant. He has had such a positive impact on our MC community, and he has represented our campus in remarkable ways.” He has served as SGA Vice President and has certainly made an impact on our Community. Our first winner was the wonderful Jacob Williams.

The next award recipient has spent almost 10 years at Maryville College as both a student and a staff member and has participated in a wide array of learning in and out of the classroom. While a student, this award winner was a Bonner Scholar, and one nominator said that the recipient’s “service heart still shines through” in their work in the Residence Life department by creating a compassionate community for the residents whether in supporting students facing food insecurity or cheering on current and former residents at athletic events and fine arts performances.

This award recipient lives out the tenants of Scholarship, Respect, and Integrity in every part of their life at Maryville College, and a nominator said that she is a “gem on this campus.” This, of course, is the 2010 graduate and current Gamble Hall Resident Director Ashley Hancock.

Now for our third Spirit of the Covenant winner. A nomination for this person included the following: “This man is a wonderful friend to all and is a driven student who has devoted himself to the lifelong learning aspect that is built within the school’s curriculum. He values being able to give his input and share his perspective with those who have come before him and those who may come after him.”

“He has spent his time on campus ensuring that he is a positive representative for both the United Methodist Church and the LGBT community, being accepting and supportive of anyone around him. He, along with other organizations on campus, was a pivotal part in establishing the supportive walkout that occurred on Maryville College campus on March 14, 2018, in order to represent our campus’ support for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.” This was Mr. Zachary Plants.

The next winner received multiple nominations. This faculty member loves enjoys biking, golfing, hiking and kayaking. “This recipient strives to be a model of healthy behaviors, hard work, and kindness for the Maryville College community. This recipient consistently demonstrates to students, faculty, and staff a devotion to “doing the right thing,” even when that means doing what is difficult or even unpopular. This recipient’s commitment to research and supervision of many senior thesis projects, expectations of acceptance expressed in course syllabi, and trustworthy character as an advisor all reflect scholarship, respect, and integrity.” This, of course, is the caring and supportive Dr. Traci Haydu.

Our last model of the Covenant has been at Maryville College since 2000. She began her work in the Learning Center. I personally learned many important skills about education and tutoring in her Honors Tutorial Practicum. When I think of this person, I immediately think of her warm smile.

Students have described her simply as “SHE IS THE BEST!” Students have reported that when in her classroom, you can feel the joy she shares with her students every day as she strives to teach them tools to be successful in their college lives and beyond. She is a lifelong learner and attracts others with her natural curiosity to always be learning and growing. She embodies respect and integrity in the way she handles herself with her colleagues and her students. She respects everyone she works with (students, staff, and faculty). Our fifth embodiment of the Spirit of the Covenant is Ms. Jan Taylor.

I am so proud to be a part of this community. These five and many others strive each day to grow in knowledge and understanding, respect their fellow men and women, and act with the highest integrity in each of their interactions. I hope these winners will serve as motivations to each member of our community to do likewise.

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