Center for Civic Advancement (CCA)

People Working on a Wooden Bridge
In support of Tusculum University’s mission of providing an education rich in civic engagement, the Center for Civic Advancement (CCA) provides opportunities for students and the greater university community through civic programing, community partnerships, and service opportunities. The CCA organizes the major civic engagement initiatives on campus, including voter registration and voter education; Constitution Day, the Green Team, the United Way Campaign, an alternative service Spring Break, and supplies the new Pioneer Exchange (PX), a free food pantry and clothing closet available for students. The CCA’s biggest event is Nettie Day, a campus-wide service initiative in September. Mrs. Nettie Fowler McCormick (1835-1923) was a financial advisor and philanthropist, who donated generously to the University in both service and financial contributions. In honor of her service, the Tusculum community comes together to serve back to the greater community, volunteering in service projects throughout east Tennessee.

The CCA also houses the University’s chapter of the Bonner Leader Program. Founded by Bertram F. Bonner and his wife Corella Allen Bonner, the Bonner Foundation is a national philanthropic organization based in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1997, the Foundation launched the Bonner Leader Program designed to encourage students to develop lives of service, civic engagement, and social justice.


The Center for Civic Advancement seeks to engage the heart, mind, and soul of Tusculum through cultivating awareness of self and of others.
We aspire to do this through the establishment of meaningful relationships with our local, national, and global communities.


“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

The Center for Civic Advancement posts all events on the CCA SignUpGenius (button below). Service hours worked are valid towards scholarships, class credits, and an overall good feeling of helping our community.

Hours can be verified by the CCA for scholarship purposes. We cannot report service hours to scholarship organizations directly.




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Travel - Alternative Spring Break

Community Partnerships

Tusculum has developed partnerships with several agencies in the region. These partnerships enrich the Tusculum community.  We encourage faculty to explore the rich and varied opportunities offered within these partnerships for developing the qualities of citizenship we seek in our students. If this is more than an individual volunteer effort, or if you would like the CCA to set up a volunteer effort with any of the following please contact the CCA.

Tusculum University has formalized partnerships with the organizations listed below. This represents a commitment to an ongoing relationship yielding reciprocal benefits. These agencies are knowledgeable about the university and our mission and interested in working with our students.



Nettie Day

Nettie-Like is one of Tusculum University’s Pioneer I’s, a set of values we challenge all Pioneers (employees and students) to live and exhibit.

Being Nettie-Like means “I volunteer my time to help others, seek ways to improve the lives of others, and lead others to find ways to serve my community.”





GREENEVILLE – Civic engagement is a major component of a Tusculum University education, and students, faculty and staff recently demonstrated its importance during the annual Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day.

Tusculum family members use Nettie Day to complete a number of projects that benefit the university and the community. The 2021 version Friday, Sept. 17, took place mostly on campus, as a protective measure due to the global coronavirus pandemic, but students, faculty and staff went to some locations nearby.

“As our students prepare to be career-ready professionals, they learn at Tusculum that proficiency in an academic subject must also be accompanied by a commitment to civic engagement,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, the university’s president. “Our new students learn about this important element of our mission early in their studies with us, and we reinforce it throughout their years at Tusculum so they can be contributing members to the betterment of society for the rest of their lives.”

Community organizations that benefited from the students’ work were Isaiah 117 House in Greene County, the Greene County Humane Society, Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Johnson City and Second Harvest Food Bank in Blountville. The Tusculum family made jump ropes for Isiah House, dog toys and treats for the Humane Society, blankets for chemotherapy and dialysis patients at the VA and made 2,500 food packages for Second Harvest. Students also made bags with encouraging words to hold the blankets.

Off campus, students, faculty and staff headed to Doak Elementary School and Tusculum City Park, where they painted and cleaned.

Tusculum family members also tackled several projects that will enhance the look and operations at the university. These include tee boxes for the disc golf course in campus, landscaping at the Welcome Center, installation of a foot bridge for a new walking trail on campus and painting at the Doak House Museum.

“Nettie Day is the culmination of a lot of preparatory work by many students, faculty and staff,” said Amanda Delbridge, assistant director of Tusculum’s Center for Civic Advancement. “The benefit of Nettie Day is in the valuable lessons about service that it teaches our students and the enhancement to our region’s quality of life. We are proud to keep this longstanding tradition alive at Tusculum.”

Avonlea Knode, a graduate assistant for the CCA and coordinator of the Bonner Leader Program, a service organization on campus, helped plan the event and enjoyed the experience.

“I don’t think I beamed so much with joy or pride as I did watching this unfold,” said Knode, who is pursuing a Master of Business Administration from Tusculum. “None of this would have happened without the cooperation and consideration of others. For me, that is great because I love volunteering. I have been doing it since I was younger. This is everything.”

Tusculum received assistance to make Nettie Day happen. AmeriCorps, a national organization, funded Nettie Day this year with a $58,247 grant, which helped provide equipment needed to finish the projects. This is a 9/11 Day of Service grant, and one of the requirements is that Tusculum complete projects that benefit veterans. Students, faculty and staff planted several trees at the Doak House Museum in honor of the one that survived at Ground Zero in New York.

Opportunity House and U Turn for Christ thrift stores contributed to the event’s success by donating all of the T-shirts that were used to make the jump ropes.

For more information about the university, please visit

Civic Engagement Recognition

voter friendly campus logo



GREENEVILLE – Tusculum University takes the privilege of voting seriously and works extensively in the classroom and in groups to encourage students to register to vote and educate them about the importance.

Those efforts have earned the university designation as a Voter Friendly Campus. The initiative is led by national nonpartisan organizations Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. It held participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing practices that encouraged students to register and vote in 2020 elections and in the coming years.

Tusculum is one of only six colleges and universities in Tennessee to achieve this designation.

“We’re pleased and grateful to be recognized for our commitment to helping people embrace the opportunity to participate more fully as a citizen through voting,” said Dr. Jacob Fait, executive director of Tusculum’s Center for Civic Engagement and dean of the College of Business. “Our students, faculty and staff members share the value of voting and are focused on helping people know about the benefits of participating in this process.”

During 2020, Tusculum held registration drives, including visiting freshmen orientation classes to discuss the importance of voting and helping students register if they were interested. In addition, three Tusculum professors made presentations about the electoral process during a public session on the Zoom virtual platform. Dr. Mary Cooper, an associate professor of political science, also taught a class on the 2020 election, a tradition for her during presidential and mid-term elections.

Student McKenzie Myers had an internship with the university’s Center for Civic Advancement, and her goals were to increase student voter turnout and student participation on campus. She organized Tent Talks – conversations under a tent – which she discovered through research were a successful way to increase student interest in politics. The talks were designed to stimulate respectful and open-minded discussion about political topics, especially those considered controversial, she said.

The university’s voting initiatives were enhanced with the development of a Student Voting Committee, in which anyone at Tusculum could participate.

Encouraging participation in the electoral process is a regular practice at Tusculum. The university has engaged in voter registration drives for several years. In addition, Dr. Mary Cooper, an associate professor of political science, conducted research in 2019 with assistance from several students, in which they asked students in the freshmen orientation class for their understanding of the reasons people vote or do not participate in that process.

“I am proud of our students, faculty and staff for vibrantly living our mission statement by promoting the electoral process,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president. “We want our students to be civically engaged on campus and as professionals after graduation so they can be informed members of society and help strengthen their communities.”

Link to Turbo vote

Spring 2023:

2023 Student Voting Honor Roll

Fall 2022:

21st Annual Volunteer Spirit Awards – by Youth Builders of Greeneville & the Tennessee State Senate

Voting Recognition (or just include the seals):

Most Engaged Campuses for College Student Voting recognition

Bronze seal for having a student voting rate between 50 percent and 59 percent in the 2020 elections.


Pioneer Exchange

The Pioneer Exchange (the Px) is a free service available to Tusculum University students provided by the Center for Civic Advancement. It is a combo food pantry and clothing closet, where students can get groceries, dorm room supplies, textbooks, school supplies, hygiene products, and clothes at no cost. The Px also offers free grocery pick-up, where students can sign-up to pick up a box of groceries during normal business hours, or come to build their own. The store is located in the Niswonger Commons, room 403. It is open Mondays – Fridays, 9am-5pm. Although hours follow the academic calendar for holidays and breaks.

The Px accepts donations all year-long for any of the above listed items. Gifted items can be dropped off directly at the Px or at the donation bins in front of the Old Gym. Both giving and shopping second hand is an environmentally conscious practice, and helps to support more sustainable habits on campus.

Grocery Pick Up:

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Director of the Center for Civic Advancement

Assistant Director for the Center for Civic Advancement
(423)636-7479 ext. 5479