Class Year: 1984
Major at MC: English/Theater
Senior Thesis Title/Topic: “A Flair for the Dramatic, A play around the Zoo Story and a study of the works of Edward Albee”
Current Town/City of Residence: Boone, N.C.
Occupation: Presbyterian Campus Minister at Appalachian State University; adjunct faculty at ASU in Recreation Management and First Year Seminar Programs; Ministerial Consultant; Life Coach
Family: Wife Karen Shafer Brown ’85, son Hayden Brown ’14; and son Shafer Brown, UNC School of the Arts High School Class of 2013
Q: Describe your career path since graduating from MC.
A: Upon graduating from MC, I stayed in Maryville for a year and served as assistant director of Dismas House. I then worked at Gardner-Webb College in Boiling Springs, N.C., as assistant manager of the bookstore while Karen was serving the Sign Language Interpreting Program. We were married in May of 1986 and moved to Louisville, Ky., where I attended Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. While in seminary I served field education roles at 2nd Presbyterian Church in Louisville and clinical pastoral education at Baptist Hospital East. Following seminary I accepted a call to serve as director of Cedar Ridge Camp and Retreat Center near Louisville. I was ordained as a PCUSA minister in April 1990. While serving the camp, our children were born. I served at Cedar Ridge until 1998 when I accepted a call to serve First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, N.C., in the role of Associate Pastor with Youth and Families. Ten years ago, in 2002, I accepted my current calling to serve as Presbyterian Campus Minister at Appalachian State University in Boone. I have had the opportunity to augment this role with adjunct faculty positions in the First Year Seminar and Recreation Management programs. I am currently working towards certification in life potentials coaching with the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching in Shrewsbury, N.J. I will complete this program later this fall and will expand my practice – College Life Engagement Coaching – which serves students through the transitions into, through, and beyond college.
Q: Describe your job or a typical day “in the office.”
A: On a typical Tuesday, I come into my office around 10 a.m. after checking e-mails at home and then taking a short hike on a nearby trail. Once in the office, I will prep for my classes and check the supplies for the Listening Post bag, which I will deliver for the older adult volunteers who begin their 1.5-hour shift at the twice weekly Listening Post table in the student union. I will then teach two 75-minute classes of Leadership and Group Dynamics, which includes lecturing on concepts and content and then leading or observing active recreational games leadership sessions. Between classes, I’ll eat an apple and granola bar. On my way back from class, I will pick up the Listening Post bag and thank today’s volunteers for the time they have spent listening to the random students who come to the table each day. Back in the office, in a local coffee shop or pub I’ll usually have either formal or informal meetings with students or colleagues. Around 5 p.m., the campus ministry fellowship group will begin to gather for our Tuesday fellowship program. We will begin with a simple meal and spend the next two hours in conversation, reflection, laughter, tears and sometimes worship. We always end the evening with prayers, praises and “Yays!” I will then get back home around 9 p.m. after wrapping up with student leaders and some prep for Wednesday. That’s a fairly typical Tuesday.
Q: What has been your most exciting/enjoyable professional experience to date?
A: As a youth minister and as campus minister, I have been able to lead mission/learning trips to many amazing places around the world and throughout the United States. Of all of these trips, I would have to say that the two opportunities that I have had to lead college student groups in Brazil are the most exciting/enjoyable ministry experiences to date.
Q: Professionally or personally, what’s still on your “bucket list”?
A: I’m a very blessed person and have had the opportunity to see and do many “bucket list” type experiences. Yet I still plan to travel in sub-Sahara Africa, specifically in Ghana and Kenya. I will also travel in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. Australia and New Zealand are also on the list of places I plan to travel. As you can tell, my list primarily involves travel. It also involves how I would like to encounter and experiences the places where I travel. Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame is my Travel Channel hero. I want Andrew’s job – tasting fully everywhere I go.
Q: How did your MC experience prepare you for your vocation and/or life?
A: Maryville was a great learning and growing experience for me. Having worked in one way or another with college students throughout my ministry, I have referenced my own experiences nearly every day. People from my time at Maryville – like the late Sharon Murphy Crane '74 – modeled how to teach through the experiences outside the classroom, while professors like Caroline Blair modeled the best teaching/learning partnership in the classroom. At Maryville, I was provided so many opportunities to be a leader, to be creative, to question and to perform at the highest levels. I engaged fully while at Maryville and emerged from the experience confident and ready to continue learning and growing throughout my life.
Q: Your book UnScripted: Engaging Life after College was published in July. What was your inspiration? What do you hope readers learn from it?
A: My inspiration for Unscripted was my ongoing work with students in the years following graduation from college. I was specifically inspired by the passage from Acts 1, which briefly tells the story of Disciple’s journey between the Jesus’ Ascensions (which I consider their graduation ceremony) and Pentecost (which I consider their full employment celebration). In my own experience and in the experiences of so many of the students with whom I have worked, it is the uncertain and unscripted journey between these two points which is filled with such opportunity for learning, deepening, grace and becoming. My hope is that those graduated or current students who read the book will be encouraged to be more fully aware of the opportunities for growth – especially spiritual growth in the midst of this Unscripted journey. I also hope that parents, friends, employers, church leaders and others might read the book and more deeply appreciate the challenges faced by college graduates in this day and age as well as to discern and discover opportunities to walk with and support these young adults.
Q: Since graduating from MC, what has made you the most proud?
A: I am always proud when I meet another graduate of Maryville College, no matter the era. I generally learn and am never surprised to find that they are a leader in their profession and/or their community. Of course I am most proud that my son Hayden is an Isaac Anderson Scholar at Maryville and is loving his experience at MC.
Q: What’s your best memory from your years as a student at MC?
A: I would have to say that my best memories from my four years are the many performances in the theater and with the Playmakers. We pulled together some amazing shows!