Jordan McCullough named 2018 Outstanding Senior

Jordan McCullough named 2018 Outstanding Senior 

May 3, 2018

Jordan McCullough, a history major from Lebanon, Tenn., was named the 2018 Outstanding Senior at Maryville College during the Academic Awards Ceremony held on April 21 in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre of the Clayton Center for the Arts.

Established by the Maryville College Alumni Association in 1974, the Outstanding Senior award recognizes those students whose overall record of academic achievement and participation in extracurricular activities stand out as most exemplary.

Specifically, the award seeks to recognize a senior who has been active in a broad range of activities in college, who best exemplifies an “ideal” Maryville College graduate and who has the potential to be an outstanding alumnus/alumna – both as a representative of the College and in his or her service to the institution.

Only those seniors with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 are considered for nomination for the Outstanding Senior Award. A committee that includes student, faculty and staff representation is given the responsibility of choosing five finalists. Those finalists are invited to respond in writing to questions about their view of their future role as alumni of Maryville College, their goals for the future and their understanding of how the College has influenced them and helped shape those goals.

Dr. Aaron Astor, associate director of history at Maryville College, introduced McCullough during the Academic Awards Ceremony.

“It is hard to think of a student who exemplifies the spirit of Maryville College better than Jordan McCullough,” Astor said. “From the moment he arrived on campus, he emerged as a natural leader. … Jordan McCullough is a true leader, both on and off campus. He simply makes everybody around him do better at what they do.”

Astor outlined the many leadership roles McCullough has held on campus – as a member of the Maryville College football team; as a Peer Mentor and Cooper Academic Success Mentor; as a member of the Maryville College Concert Choir, Off Kilter and the Garnet Lads; as a student ambassador in the MC Office of Admissions; and as a resident advisor in a freshman residence hall.

“But I want to say a few words about Jordan McCullough the student, whom I’ve had the privilege to teach in several classes and advise from his freshman year through Senior Thesis,” Astor said. “Jordan first caught my attention in my 19th century U.S. history class. He could write about the Civil War era with poise and clarity and he could speak about it with the passion of a scholar making a great discovery in the archives.

“In fact, it was that last part that showed what a special student Jordan McCullough is, and why he is rightly recognized today,” Astor continued, adding that he had been working for years with members of Knoxville’s Civil War preservation committee with the intention of commemorating an African American regiment raised in East Tennessee. His history methods class contributed to a crowdsourced digital project in which students read through and transcribed the handwritten 19th-century documents from the First U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery regiment.

“Jordan, a student in that class, immediately saw a Senior Study potential out of this project,” Astor said. “He would do the work of interpreting the experience of this regiment, based in large part on the primary sources that he and others had transcribed. This was the kind of work Ph.D. candidates and seasoned scholars toil away on for years.  Jordan was able to identify key themes – recruitment of enslaved men into the regiment, daily life of the men and their wives and children, and some of the post-war experiences of these black Union veterans as they built new lives in freedom.  He knew what questions to ask, how to research them (including through some unwieldy databases), what connections and inferences to draw, and how to assemble an argument-driven narrative based on these records. Jordan McCullough had become a historian – an academic historian – and it made me so proud to watch him take this difficult task on with such excitement.”

McCullough was presented a framed award along with a $500 cash award. His name will be added to the Outstanding Senior plaque displayed on campus. Finalists for the award included Sarah Gregory, an American Sign Language-English Interpreting and American Sign Language-Deaf Studies double major from Prague, Czech Republic; Jenna Hunt, a theatre studies for teacher licensure major from Maryville, Tenn.; Byjan Kajaei, a Teaching English as a Second Language major from Antioch, Tenn.; and Corrinne McClure, a political science major from Memphis, Tenn.

In addition to the Outstanding Senior Award, McCullough took home the Otto P. Pflanze Prize for Excellence in History.

McCullough is a 2014 graduate of Wilson Central High School.

“I have been blessed to have Jordan as a student and an advisee for the last four years,” Astor said. “The whole college has been blessed too. He will always embody the spirit of Maryville College at its best.”      


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,146.