Center created at Ferrum to help freshmen adjust to college life

Ferrum College announced the creation of the Michael T. Christian ’63 Center for First-Year Experience, made possible by a generous contribution from alumnus Michael Christian.

“I made some friends at Ferrum who were serious students. As a result, I became serious about succeeding in college and beyond,” said Christian, who graduated from Ferrum Junior College in 1963.

The Center will serve all incoming freshmen, including those who are the first in their families to attend college. Its goal is to integrate first-year students into college life by connecting them to an academic and social network of professors, mentors, and classmates to help them have a successful college experience. Students will also be connected to other resources at Ferrum College such as clubs, campus engagement, and career services.

“The transition from high school to college can be daunting, especially for the approximately 25 percent of our student body who are the first in their family to attend college,” said Vice President for Institutional Advancement and External Relations Wilson Paine. “The Michael T. Christian ’63 Center for First-Year Experience is designed to make sure our first-year students won’t feel lost as they begin their college journey.”

“The Michael T. Christian ’63 Center for First-Year Experience is the perfect location to study and gather with other students. FYE provides students with a variety of resources to help them perform to their highest potential. These include academic coaching, events, Gateway and Freshmen Orientation courses, and much more,” said First-Year Experience Coordinator Michelle Carter.

After graduating from Ferrum Junior College, Christian went on to earn his bachelors degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He then commissioned into the United States Army as a second lieutenant and later discharged as a captain. After his military service, he became executive vice president of Nations Bank, now Bank of America, and served as president and chief executive officer of three additional community banks. He also chaired two United Way campaigns and was chairman of the board for Tusculum College. Christian remains involved as a consultant to an east Tennessee regional financial services company and participates in other civic activities, including serving on the board of directors for the Federal Reserve Bank (Nashville branch) and the Tennessee Bankers Association.

“I attribute much of my success to Ferrum,” said Christian. “What I gained there is worth much more to me than the monetary donation I made to the school.”

“We are immensely grateful to Mike for his contribution to the Center,” said Paine. “Every day, he lives by our motto ‘Not Self, But Others’, and is a true champion for Ferrum College students.”

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