MC's Coin and Cording Ceremony held online

MC’s Coin and Cording Ceremony held online

May 14, 2020


Just like the Spring 2020 semester moved online at Maryville College, so too did the school’s annual Coin and Cording Ceremony for veterans and military-related students preparing to graduate.

Jim Humphrey, the College’s director of veteran recruiting and outreach, organized the May 7 ceremony—the sixth such ceremony at the College but its first held virtually—and served as emcee. Attending via Zoom were college administrators, graduating seniors and their families. Campus Minister the Rev. Dr. Anne McKee opened with prayer, which was followed by a video of Student Veteran Association-related activities taken over the last year.

“Maryville College has a military connection which stretches back to the days of the American Civil War,” Humphrey explained in his introduction. “Many of our students, faculty, staff and alumni have served the nation at various times during the past 159 years. Many have returned to attend classes or serve as faculty or staff. Some however, made the ultimate sacrifice and never had the opportunity to return.

“Today, we have the privilege to honor the sacrifices of so many, both past and present, as we recognize the accomplishment of these graduating students and celebrate as they prepare to enter the next chapter of their individual story.”

The Maryville College Class of 2020 includes seven veteran and eight military-related students, representing 11 different degree programs. Veterans include William Tate, James Malone, Robert Macri, Logan Dunn, Paul Dortmund, David Daniels and Brandon Caldwell. Military-related students include Michael Bailey, Carson Clark, Natalie Clemens, Robert Clemens, Andrew Collins, Luke Simpson, Brenna Tipton and Sydelle Young.

Coins and cords are symbolic

Prior to the ceremony, all 15 students received, by mail, a military-style coin unique to Maryville College. One side of the coin displays the founding year of the College (1819), and the image of the iconic Anderson Hall tower. The American flag, a bald eagle and names of the Armed Forces are printed on the other side of the coin.

Humphrey explained that Steve Hady ’14 was also sending the graduates a unique coin and appreciation letter to each, extending his congratulation for their commitment and continued success. Hady, a master chief petty officer in the United States Navy, was originally scheduled to speak at the ceremony but was unable to participate in the virtual gathering.

Veterans also received a red, white and blue honor cord to wear with academic regalia at Commencement.

“The cord is a special recognition showing MC’s gratitude and respect for the men and women who have made an unwavering commitment to both their nation and their academic studies,” Humphrey explained. “The colors of the cord are fitting as they are defined in the Great Seal of the United States, in which white signifies purity and innocence, red represents hardiness and valor and blue signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.”

Dean offers advice

In his remarks to the graduating students, Dr. Dan Klingensmith, vice president and dean of the College, referenced the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption it had caused for the College and wider world.

Klingensmith, who is also professor of history at the College, told the graduates participating virtually that the only other classes graduating “in this league of strangeness” would have been the classes of 1861 and 1942, members of which left the College to face the turmoil of war.

“Occasions with this level of acute anxiety and dislocation and uncertainty on a simultaneous and global scale are rare, but they do happen,” he explained. “I point that out not to minimize anything going on right now, but just to say that while the circumstances we’re in right now are unique in modern history, periods of social crisis are not. Other generations have endured their challenges in their time. And what they could do, we can do.

“For this particular group, I’m telling you what you already know:  more than most Americans, veterans are already aware that our nation’s ordinary peacetime normality is punctuated by periods of profound upheaval, requiring adaptability, service and courage.”

Offering advice, Klingensmith encouraged the graduating vets to continue to take an active role in their times, including seizing opportunities presented by the pandemic to right the wrongs of the world.

“Use your college education, use insights from your coursework and other experiences here, and for those of you who are veterans, insights from that experience, to understand and to explain our crisis to others; use your education to demand that things be better; use it to help make things better. Our nation and world are in crisis not simply because of a virus, but because they were already deeply unequal, unfair and unsustainable, which heightened our vulnerability.

“The world needs educated people who will use their educations not simply to make money for themselves, or for someone else, but to generate decent and sustainable societies,” he said.

College is military-friendly

Since 2013, when the Maryville College Student Veterans Association (MCSVA) formed, the College has seen a growing student veteran population and hopes to have a population of 100 veteran and military-related students enrolled by 2023.

Initiatives and recognitions have included joining the Education Pillar of the “Got Your 6” campaign, the U.S. Department of Education’s “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success” initiative and implementation of “Green Zone Training” for faculty and staff.

In 2015, the College opened the College’s Military Student Center in Bartlett Hall and was added to the Military Friendly® School list that same year.

The College was selected for two Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) Veteran Reconnect grants and in 2016, was named a THEC VETS campus.

In July 2019 and for the fourth time in four years, the College was listed among Viqtory Media’s Military Friendly ® Schools. U.S. News & World Report named Maryville No. 1 in the “Best Colleges for Veterans” category among regional Southern colleges in its 2020 rankings.

Maryville College (MC) accepts military Tuition Assistance (TA), Post 9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program benefits, TN Strong Act and other veteran educational benefits. Additionally, MC offers a unique level of support with its MC Helping Heroes Scholarship for those military members who have not accrued 100 percent of VA education benefits. The College also provides academic credit for formal military training, accommodations for those with disabilities and career placement assistance for veterans.

For more information about Maryville College’s student veteran program, visit the MC website or contact Jim Humphrey, director of military recruiting and outreach, at 865.981.8015 or

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.”