‘History of MC’ course offered this spring

‘History of MC’ course offered this spring

April 1, 2019

This spring, Maryville College students are learning all about the College’s 200-year history – and getting course credit for it.

Dr. Aaron Astor, associate professor of history at MC, is teaching History 149: History of Maryville College.

“We’re all thinking about ways the College’s unique history informs our identity today and our destiny going forward, and I think that Maryville College’s history is perhaps more special to this College’s identity than is the case in most other schools,” Astor said. “Maryville College, since the very beginning, has been defined by opening doors and providing access to people who would otherwise not have access. That has always been something that’s really remarkable about what this college has provided and I think is still very much a part of who we are today. That deep history is something students need to understand and appreciate.”

Maryville College, which was founded in 1819 by the Rev. Isaac Anderson as the Southern and Western Theological Seminary, is celebrating its Bicentennial this year. 

The text for the class is the College itself, “transmitted by oral history, physical excavation, self-reflective reminiscences, and the mundane accounts of students, faculty and staff over two centuries of life,” Astor said, adding that the College Archives is one of the major resources utilized throughout the course. 

The focus of the course is threefold: the institution, the community and the people.

“Institutionally, we examine the shift from Southern and Western Theological Seminary to Maryville College and the growth of the College over time,” Astor said. “This includes an exploration of the College’s relationship to the Presbyterian church, changes to the College’s governance, transformation of the curriculum, construction of campus facilities, and development of programs and extracurricular activities. As for the community, this course addresses the place of Maryville College in the Maryville, Blount County, East Tennessee and Appalachian communities. The people who walked the halls and quads of Maryville College are the third main focus of the course.  This includes the changing student body, as well as the staff, faculty, administration, boards of trustees and other people who interacted with the College over the years.”

Astor said that most of the students in the class are freshmen, so for many, this is their first history class at MC.

“I hope they take away from this class that they are part of a big tradition, and it’s a living tradition,” the professor said. “It’s a special tradition, and they are adding their chapter to it – and this chapter is adding to them. This is helping to make them who they are, just as it made people in the past who they are.”

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 2019 semester is 1,148.