“Thirty-three years ago, a freshman sat in this same building at this same time asking, 'What in the world have I gotten myself into?' And that was Doug Mann. And here, over three decades later, he stands ready to serve.”
These words were spoken by Dr. William E. Brown as he prayed for Dr. Douglas F. Mann at Bryan College’s inauguration ceremony on Friday in Rudd Memorial Chapel. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni attended both in-person and virtually to celebrate the inauguration of Dr. Mann as the eighth president of Bryan College. Among attendees were the past three Bryan College presidents, members of the Board of Trustees, alumni representatives from each decade since the founding of Bryan College, and academic delegates from fellow higher education institutions.
Dr. Mann’s Bryan College journey began in 1988 when he set foot on campus as a freshman. However, his connection to Bryan began in 1956 when his parents met and fell in love on campus. While attending Bryan, Dr. Mann majored in Bible and History and met his wife, Susi. Following graduation in 1992, he earned his M.A. in Christian Thought from Trinity International University and his Ph.D. in History from The University of Georgia. He went on to serve on the history faculty and in various leadership roles at Liberty University, including vice provost for Graduate Education, administrative dean for Graduate Programs, and dean of the Graduate School. Dr. Mann returned to his alma mater in 2018 to serve as the vice president of Academics and provost. He has been serving as the eighth president of Bryan College since July 15, 2020.
The inauguration service was opened by an invocation from Dr. Clay Smith. Greetings were presented from The Honorable Ken Yager, state senator, District 12, on behalf of the State of Tennessee; the Honorable Hurley Marsh, mayor, on behalf of the city of Dayton; Dr. Jud Davis, professor of Greek, on behalf of faculty and staff; Anna Grace Autry ’22 on behalf of students; and Rev. Dean Ropp ’81 on behalf of alumni.
Ms. Autry’s comments were particularly poignant as she spoke of the change and uncertainty of the past few years. “It’s times like these when students notice the fragility or the resilience of their leaders. I speak on behalf of all the students when I say we couldn’t have handpicked a better person to be leading us through so much change at Bryan.”
Dr. James Woychuk ’89 gave the charge to the president and urged Dr. Mann to remember where he came from, keep the faith, walk in integrity and purity, and stand firm.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chair Delana Bice ’74 installed Dr. Mann as the eighth president of Bryan College, stating, “We will be praying for you and standing beside you.” Susi Mann, First Lady; Dr. Kenneth Hanna ’57, fifth president; Dr. William E. Brown ’92H, sixth president; and Dr. Stephen D. Livesay, seventh president, acted as witnesses. Dr. Livesay presented Dr. Mann with the presidential medallion, and all three former presidents prayed over Dr. Mann.
Two special music pieces were included in the ceremony. Dr. Kim Keck and students performed “Goodness of God,” arranged by Jay Rouse. Rev. Felipe Arias ’95 performed “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to thunderous applause. The ceremony concluded with a benediction from Rev. James Davis ’90. The celebration of Dr. Mann’s inauguration continued throughout the day with several events around campus. The festivities concluded with fireworks following the men’s and women’s soccer games.
In his inaugural address, Dr. Mann reflected on the legacy of Bryan College and looked forward to what Bryan College is and will be. He thanked Dr. Hanna, Dr. Brown, and Dr. Livesay for exemplifying a life of Christ Above All and influencing his life as teachers, mentors, and confidantes. Dr. Mann reflected that challenges are not new to Bryan College. The school was founded in the midst of the Great Depression and survived the burning of its primary academic building, now rebuilt and known as Mercer Hall. Currently, disruptions in higher education are caused by the pandemic and quickly advancing technology. Dr. Mann emphasized that through the struggles of the past and the struggles of the future, Bryan College has and will remain true to Christ Above All, stepping forward in faith to continue the work of transforming lives through the power of the gospel and through the power of education.