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Current students react to support from Holston Foundation and other donors

Friday, May 3, 2019, Tennessee Wesleyan University announced its acquisition of Hiwassee College’s dental hygiene program. While the program is still officially awaiting approval from the University’s regional accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), current students are happy and relieved.

Isabella Wagner, a rising senior, shared emotions similar to her classmates, “I was completely relieved and so excited that we would be able to continue this program that we had worked so hard in and that it would not be coming to an end.” The program coming to an end was simply not an option for University administrators. Conversations between administrators and many TWU Board of Trustees members led to generous donations for this acquisition to take place.

The greatest public gift in support of this transition came from the Holston Foundation. With the largest gift in the 38-year history of the Foundation, the $100,000 donation went straight to saving this program for 15 hard-working students. In response to the gift, Wagner added, “this support has provided us 15 very hard-working students an opportunity to continue and complete what we have started and for future incoming classes. Thank you so much!”

Paul Bowman, Holston Foundation executive director, says the Foundation is proud that this gift will help two of the three colleges and universities within the Holston Conference. Before its closure, Hiwassee College had a long-standing relationship with the Methodist Church and a deep connection with Tennessee Wesleyan University. Tennessee Wesleyan President, Dr. Harley Knowles, recognizes the significance of this gift and the support behind it. “The history and connection between both schools made the decision to pursue this program a simple one. We promised to find ways to honor the legacy of our sister institution and continuing the dental hygiene program is just one of those opportunities.” Knowles added, “the support from our donors and the Holston Foundation allows us to continue serving this group of students who just a few months ago were left without a school to call home.”

Other dental students have shared their appreciation to donors, “on behalf of my fellow classmates, teachers, doctors, and staff we would like to say thank you for trusting God to use your donations in a powerful way. I know that He had a plan all along, and the Holston Foundation cannot be thanked enough for selflessly giving to this program. I pray that we can use this donation to grow in our studies, clinicals, spiritual relationships and personal relationships with all that we come in contact throughout this career. Thank you and may God bless you for giving this donation that will allow us to finish our incredible dental hygiene degree and TWU.” Callie Greene is also a rising senior who will finish her bachelor’s degree in three years. She adds, “to be able to finish on track and with the same people I started with is a true blessing to me and my family who worked tirelessly to pay for my schooling. These donors are our saving grace and a gift from God.”

Because of the generosity of donors like the Holston Foundation, the current students, faculty and staff now have a new home at Tennessee Wesleyan. The University looks forward to graduating its first class of dental hygiene students during the Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies and believes this program will have a significant impact within the East Tennessee region. Greene and her classmates share the same sentiment about the support from TWU and donors, “God provided in such an incredible way.”

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