MC, RT Lodge partner for "Fireside Chats with Faculty"

MC, RT Lodge partner for “Fireside Chats with Faculty”

Nov. 6, 2018


On Monday, Maryville College and RT Lodge launched their new joint venture, “Fireside Chats with Faculty,” with a discussion led by Dr. Drew Crain, professor of biology.

Crain, a member of the College’s faculty since 1998, tailored the discussion to draw from his areas of expertise and interests:  Faith and science, farm-to-table initiatives, environmental contaminants and wildlife photography.

Quarterly fireside chats are planned, as outlined in the recently signed memorandum of understanding, which states that Maryville College and RT Lodge will “partner to promote hospitality, environmentally sustainable practices, artisanal techniques and education in natural settings for the local, national and international community.”

Constructed as “Morningside” in the College Woods in 1932 by Susan Wiley Walker of Pennsylvania and once home of the College’s presidents, RT Lodge is now operated by Ruby Tuesday Inc., as a public restaurant, bar and hotel.

At the MOU signing on May 14, Dr. Tom Bogart, Maryville College president, said that the fireside chats were “an opportunity for some of our faculty to showcase their scholarship and the fascinating work that they do” with individuals who may not be familiar with RT Lodge and the exceptional experience offered to guests in the beautiful setting of the College Woods.

The format of the fireside chats is seminar-like and includes an informal gathering that begins at 5 p.m. around the outside RT fireplace and concludes around 6 p.m. While there is no cost to participate in the evening discussion, individuals may enjoy dinner afterward in the Lodge restaurant, subject to availability. Reservations can be made on the online Open Table network or by contacting the Lodge at 865.981.9800. The RT Lodge restaurant is highly rated, and menus showcase fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms and providers. The cost of any food and drink served during or after the fireside chats is the responsibility of individual participants.

Members of the College’s Strategic Partnerships Group (SPG) worked with the staff of RT Lodge to form the MOU and envision the fireside chats. SPG Chairperson Dr. Ariane Schratter said that the faculty who have been selected to lead the upcoming evening discussions will be able to tie their educational backgrounds and areas of expertise to related issues that are of local, national and/or global interest.

“We believe these participants will leave RT Lodge with new information, new perspectives and new friends,” she said. “Maryville College encourages community building and lifelong learning. RT Lodge seeks to bring people together to work, learn and nurture ideas. We believe this is a wonderful, unique opportunity for the College, the Lodge and the citizens of our area.”

Reservations are capped at 25 individuals. Individuals interested in joining the Spring or Summer Fireside Chat with Faculty should sign up at or email

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”