Questions about
Lifelong Learning?

Amy Hamar
Director of Lifelong Learning
and Senior Alumni Programs

Lifelong Learning Faculty


headshot - Fred Blankfein

Fredric B. Blankfein

Production Manager, Dolly Parton's Christmas Movie Special

Fredric B. Blankfein is a long-standing member of the Directors Guild of America, having been an active member for over 35 years. In his career, working as an assistant director, production manager and producer, he has worked on seven films with Woody Allen, including the Academy Award-winning “Annie Hall” and the multi-nominated “Manhattan.” He worked on the Emmy Award-winning television movies “Foxfire,” with Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and John Denver, and “Valley of Light” starring Gretchen Mol. Other credits include “George of the Jungle,” “Masters of the Universe,” the “Popular” TV series for Ryan Murphy (“Glee”), “Malice in Wonderland” with Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Alexander, “Two of a Kind” with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and “The Menendez Murders” mini-series with Edward James Olmos.

He has produced a docu-drama about female bullying in high school for The Museum of Tolerance, “Strange Frequency,” an Anthology Series for VH-1 and “Taking the Heat” for Showtime. He recently was executive producer for the short comedy film “Dante & Beatrice,” which received the Outstanding Short Film Award at the New York Film Festival For New Cinema. He production-managed the film “Fluidity,” which aired on Showtime. He is currently working as a production manager on Dolly Parton’s Christmas Movie Special for NBC.

Regarding film education, Fred has lectured extensively on film at New York University, C.W. Post College, Trinity College, Harding University, Watkins College for the Arts, Belmont University, Lipscomb University and Columbia State Community College. He also taught the Film Production Class and Introduction to Screenwriting at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He has also sponsored, coordinated and participated in seminars at the Directors Guild of America in the areas of set management in conjunction with the East Coast AD / UPM Council.

Mary Nelle Chumley

Lipscomb Alumna and Special Event Hostess

Chumley’s unbroken legacy of volunteerism at Lipscomb began when she and her husband returned to the university in 1958 after a period during which he taught in Indiana. In those days at small colleges, faculty had wide-ranging responsibilities beyond the classroom. As art department chair, her husband was responsible for decorating everything from Board meetings to dorm lobbies to Homecoming, and she was in the middle of—or out in front of—these extracurricular assignments. A gifted floral arranger, Chumley quickly became recognized as the campus event decorator. But she contributed far more: for many years, she was the de facto showrunner for Homecoming, coaching participants on their roles and managing this and other events. 

It was Chumley’s idea to use Avalon, university founder David Lipscomb’s historic, on-campus home, as a bed and breakfast or meeting space for campus visitors. Her vision was to use the proceeds to endow the Associated Women for Lipscomb (AWL)-Centennial Scholarship. The administration granted that request and invested in restoring Avalon to its original configuration and modest, country splendor. Chumley began serving as scheduler, host and caterer—roles in which she continues to serve more than 45 years later. She and others volunteered their time in every role — including cooking meals for the visitors — so all of the proceeds would go to the scholarship. A campus publication from 2001 stated more than $23,000 was raised that year alone from activities at Avalon. Today, nearly $414,000 has been generated for the Centennial Scholarship endowment principal. In the past 20 years, more than 600 scholarships have been awarded from the AWL-Centennial Scholarship fund. 

The success of the AWL-Centennial Scholarship led them to endow additional scholarships, and satellite AWL chapters also adopted scholarships as their primary focus. In the same 20-year period, a total of 1,627 AWL scholarships have been awarded. Because of their appreciation for her vision and service, AWL established the Associated Women for Lipscomb–Mary Nelle Hutcheson Chumley Endowed Scholarship in 2015. 

In 2006, Chumley was named the university’s “Alumnus of the Year,” an honor she shared with her husband Charles Chumley (’39), a 1991 “Alumnus of the Year” honoree.

In recent years, Chumley has immersed herself in serving the university’s alumni relations office, particularly with the Lifelong Learning and senior alumni programs. She is described as “a third staff member” and “a life saver” by the professionals in those programs. She is happy to do the “small things” that have a big impact in constituent services, such as meticulously reproducing yearbook photos of 50-year class reunion attendees, setting up registration areas, greeting guests, coordinating events, and general office work.

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Dr. Tom Davis 

Lipscomb University Associate Director of Lanier Center for Archaeology

Dr. Tom Davis has 40 years of experience as an archaeologist, working extensively in Cyprus, the Near East, Egypt, Central Asia and the United States. He started his archaeological career as a professional archaeologist for a private company in the USA from 1991-2003. He next served (2003-2011) as director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI) in Nicosia, Cyprus, one of the premier archaeological research centers in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Before coming to Lipscomb University, Davis was a professor of archaeology from 2011-2020 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Davis currently directs the Lanier Center excavations at the early Christian site of Kourion (Cyprus). He also serves as project co-director and field director of the Ilyn Balik Expedition, Kazakhstan; as project coordinator for the Recordation Project of the West Wall of the Cour de la Cachette in the Temple of Karnak, Luxor Egypt; and as co-director for the Nuri Pyramid Project in Sudan. Davis has lectured extensively in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Lifelong Learning - Phyllis Gobbell-2

Phyllis Gobbell

Faculty Emeritus at Nashville State Community College

Phyllis Gobbell, faculty emeritus at Nashville State Community College, taught composition, literature and creative writing for 20 years and edited the college’s literary journal for eight years. She is an editor and writing coach.

Gobbell writes a little bit of everything—short stories, creative nonfiction, books and even some poetry—but her latest focus has been mysteries. The most recent book in the Jordan Mayfair Mystery Series, Treachery in Tuscany, received a Silver Falchion Award for Best Cozy Mystery. Gobbell’s fiction and nonfiction have received awards, and she was recipient of Tennessee’s Individual Artist Award in Literature.

Before she began her mystery series, she co-authored two true crimes, An Unfinished Canvas and Season of Darkness, based on two high-profile murders that have become part of Nashville’s history.

When she’s not writing or teaching, she plays tennis, plays the piano and spends time with her daughters and their families, all who live in the Nashville area. Browse her website for more about her and her writing.

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Gary Holloway

Author and Retired Lipscomb University Faculty

Gary Holloway is the past executive director of the World Convention of Churches of Christ. Before that he taught spiritual formation at Lipscomb University in Nashville. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas and Emory University, je has written or edited over 30 books, including several volumes in the Meditative Commentary on the New Testament series. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway.

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Dr. Dennis Loyd

Lipscomb University Retired Faculty

Dennis Loyd, retired professor of English at Lipscomb University, has taught in the Lifelong Learning program since its beginning. A specialist in American literature, he has taught such classes as Revolutionary War Literature, Civil War Literature, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Tennessee Literature, Nashville Writers, William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. Dr. Loyd is a graduate of David Lipscomb College and holds a Ph.D. from George Peabody College for Teachers.

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Janet McMahan

Lipscomb Alumna, Performing Artist, Writer and Producer

Janet McMahan has worked as a professional pianist since she was 16 years old. She’s also worked as a writer, performing artist and producer of music, audio books and dramatic works.

Her first love has always been volunteering as a musician and singer for retirement centers, skilled nursing facilities, homeless shelters and similar venues. She began volunteering at age 12 when the school librarian invited her to sing at Lakeshore/Wedgewood. It has been a passion of hers since.

As a musician and singer, Janet has performed on the Grand Ole Opry, toured the United States and abroad as Roy Orbison's keyboard player and played for hundreds of society gigs, weddings, parties and every kind of function imaginable. She’s worked in the studio as a keyboard player, vocalist and vocal contractor on recordings for numerous artists including Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, Steve Winwood, Shirley Jones, John Denver, Sandi Patti, Kathie Lee Gifford, Michael Crawford and many others.

She’s performed on jingles for McDonald's, Target, General Tire and many other regional and local commercials and also has written and produced for Simon and Schuster, LifeWay, McGraw-Hill, Word, Gibson Publishing, Thomas Nelson, Sparrow, Brentwood/Benson and Sesame Street Records.

She has written and produced Grammy and Dove Award winning projects. Janet has had more than 1,500 songs published and in print and over 75 published children's musicals which she has written and/or collaborated. Several of her dramatic musical works (words, music and book) have been recognized by the Dramatists Guild "Off Off Broadway."

With her collaborator, Janet wrote the musical adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing" for the Nashville Shakespeare Festival in Summer 2012, and it’s being licensed for worldwide distribution.

Her songs have been featured on 20/20, 60 Minutes, Robert Schuller Hour of Power and the Billy Graham Crusade, and they have been recorded by artists including Big Bird, Sandi Patti, Sonny James and Lynn Anderson. She has received the ASCAP Award for 21 years in a row, and she was one of nine participants selected for ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop in NYC. Janet has acted in radio and television commercials as well as numerous live theatrical performances. She is a member of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the Dramatists Guild of America.

Janet received a Bachelor of Science degree in musical performance from Lipscomb University and is working toward earning a master’s degree in conflict management.

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Annette McRay

Retired Social Studies Teacher

Annette Jackson McRay received a B.A. degree from Middle Tennessee State University and completed an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Wheaton College with an emphasis in archaeology. She taught world geography and culture at Lisle Junior High School for 20 years and served as a cultural diversity consultant for Lisle School District after retirement. In her extensive travels to many countries, she has observed ways of dying in other cultures. She has also been privileged to participate in various approaches to end-of-life decisions with friends and family.

headshot - David McRay

Dr. David McRay

Chief Medical Officer at Alive Hospice

Dr. David McRay serves at Alive Hospice in Nashville as the chief medical officer and medical director for the Murfreesboro Inpatient Unit, south home team and pediatric team. Over his 30-year career in medicine, he has practiced in rural Appalachia, inner city Fort Worth, Texas, and at home in Murfreesboro.

He has served on the faculty of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and the UT-Nashville Family Medicine Residency Program in Murfreesboro. A number of pivotal personal and professional end-of-life experiences encouraged a shift in focus from family medicine and obstetrics to hospice medicine. He received his B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University. 

headshot - Rob McRay

Rob McRay

Lipscomb University Adjunct Bible Instructor

Rob McRay received his B.A. from Abilene Christian University and his M.A. in biblical studies from Wheaton College and did further graduate study at the University of Chicago. He served for more than 30 years as the senior minister for churches in Chicago, Milwaukee, Houston and Nashville. He currently is an interim minister with Interim Ministry Partners. He has also served as a volunteer chaplain with Alive Hospice and Summit Medical Center.

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Dr. Howard Miller

Lipscomb University Associate Professor of History, Politics and Philosophy

Dr. Howard Miller joined the history faculty at Lipscomb in 2012. He is a widely published social historian with a specialty in the history of Islamic Spain. He earned a doctorate in medieval studies from Yale University with a dissertation about the legal practices of the Mozarabs, the Arabic-speaking Christians of medieval Toledo.

Prior to coming to Lipscomb, Miller taught history and religion at Cornell College, Pepperdine University and California State University-Chico. His writings include works on the history of the Arabic language, Christopher Marlowe’s play Tamburlaine and other aspects of medieval and early modern culture.

At his food history blog, An Eccentric Culinary History,, Miller has explored topics as diverse as the history of sushi in America, Chilean cuisine and the development of chicken and waffles. 

He earned a Ph.D., M.Phil. and M.A. in medieval studies from Yale University.


Pamela O'Neal

Author and Historian

Pamela Dawn O’Neal is a grateful servant of the One who came to serve, and considers this to be her greatest and most impressive credential. She attended Harding University and Texas A&M University, majoring in both biology and psychology. However, for the past quarter of a century, she been captivated by a profound love for the study of ancient Egypt, searching vigorously for indications in Egyptian history to verify the Hebrew sojourn in that great country. Reading and accumulating notes to that effect has become her pastime, her pursuit, and her passion. She is completely self-taught in this subject, but her theories concerning the convergence of the Biblical Exodus and well-documented Egyptian records are unique in that there is no compromise to the integrity of either source.  Her book, The God of Egypt, expounds her theories. 

Pamela is a frequent ladies day speaker, presenting lessons across the country. She has authored three books in a series of Bible class teacher training programs, has written four week-long sets of nature-centered Bible camp courses, complete with lessons, related activities, and crafts for campers ages nine through eighteen. She has been asked to devise Bible class curriculums and related lessons for congregations in multiple states. She has been a speechwriter for a professional athlete and a proofreader for a university president. She also has composed over 1,000 songs.

Pamela lives in Ridgetop, Tennessee, with her husband of 41 years, T. Brian O’Neal. Brian is director of operations and engineering for Lipscomb’s Mullican Studios and is an elder and teacher at the Ivy Point Church of Christ. They have three daughters: Dr. Summer O’Neal, Auburn Spicer and Taffeta Xu.

Linda Peek Schacht

Retired Lipscomb University Faculty; Founding Director, Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership; and Former Senior Fellow, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Linda Peek Schacht has advised government, business and nonprofit leaders on communication and strategy for over 40 years. A veteran of the Carter White House press office, she has held the top communication positions for a national Presidential campaign, USA Today, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate and the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. She is a former vice president for global communications and public affairs strategy for The Coca-Cola Company and senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

As founding director of Lipscomb’s Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership, she created programs that reflect her lifelong commitment to developing leaders who serve the common good. She is a frequent commentator and author on leadership, politics and government. As a board member of the International Women’s Media Foundation and Athena International, Linda has worked to advance women’s leadership around the globe. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum and the Women Business Collaborative advisory council. She also is a recipient of the NBJ Women of Influence Trailblazer award, the Athena Award and the YWCA’s Academy of Women of Achievement.

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J.T. Thompson

Executive Director of the Lotz House Museum, Historian and Appraiser

J. T. Thompson, a former Nashville broadcaster, is the executive director of the Lotz House Museum, a Civil War-era historic home in Franklin, Tennessee, that opened to the public in 2008. The home was built in 1858 and added to the National Historic Register in 1976. Thompson is also a highly regarded antiques appraiser and has been featured on Antiques Roadshow.