Questions about
Lifelong Learning?

Amy Hamar
Director of Lifelong Learning
and Senior Alumni Programs

Lifelong Learning Faculty


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Tom Bancroft

Producer, Animator & Lipscomb Artist-in-Residence—Animation

Tom Bancroft has over 30 years of experience in the animation industry, most of which was for Walt Disney Feature animation where he was an animator for 12 years on such Disney classics as “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” Pocahontas,” “Tarzan” and “Brother Bear.” He is also the creator of Mushu The Dragon in Disney’s “Mulan.” After Disney, he worked with Big Idea Productions as a Supervising Director/Co-creator for a VeggieTales DVD series. His popular character design instruction books — “Creating Characters with Personality” and “Character Mentor” — have become the most recognized books on designing characters and are required textbooks at many art schools around the world.

Tom is half of the popular “The Bancroft Brothers Animation Podcast” with his twin brother Tony, as well as creator of the annual, world-wide Instagram drawing event #MerMay with millions of followers. He is currently producing Pencil Test, a documentary feature about 2D animation and is the founder and Artist-in-Residence of the burgeoning Animation program at Lipscomb University.

He is the CEO of Pencilish Animation Studios, the world’s first crowdfunded animation IP development company. He lives with his family in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Dr. Craig Bledsoe (’75)

Lipscomb Provost, Chief Academic Officer (Retired)

Prior to his retirement in 2022, Craig Bledsoe had served as the provost and chief academic officer at Lipscomb University since 1997. In the new role of provost emeritus, Craig supports several strategic university initiatives and has to the classroom, where he began his career with Lipscomb more than 40 years ago, as full professor of political science and public policy in the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy.

Under his leadership as provost, the university expanded to 10 colleges that offer over 200 undergraduate majors and minors, 24 master's degree programs and three doctoral degree programs. At the same time, Lipscomb’s academic offerings increasingly integrated service to the larger community. While much of Bledsoe’s energy focused on his administrative role, he has remained passionate about the field of political science and about the role of politics in shaping our society. His research has focused on the intersection of religious belief and political affiliations. As professor of political science, Bledsoe earned several awards for his scholarship and his teaching, winning the Laine Travel Award and the Outstanding Teacher Award. The Laine award allowed him to travel to the Soviet Union where he studied the fall of the Communist control of the country. He holds a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Political Science.


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Dr. Scott Bledsoe (’14)

Assistant Professor, Lipscomb University School of Public Policy

Scott Bledsoe, a 2014 graduate from Lipscomb University, earned his Ph.D. in political science from George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, in 2022. After graduating from Lipscomb University, Scott moved to New York City, where he received an M.A. in comparative politics from NYU and worked as an editorial assistant at Oxford University Press. While at George Mason University, Scott served as a research assistant for the "Closing the Gap Project" at the United States Institute of Peace in conjunction with USAID, which explored the role of religious freedom in global socioeconomic development. Scott’s research interests include the role of religiosity in motivating affective polarization, religious identity in the United States, and early American political thought.

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Thomas Cartwright

Historian, Civil War Expert & Executive Director of Lotz House

Thomas Y. Cartwright, one of the nation’s leading authorities on the Battle of Franklin, offers personalized “Battlefield Tours” from the Lotz House. You’ve seen him on the History Channel, A&E and the Discovery Channel.

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Mary Nelle Chumley (’49)

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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Jess Daniel (’99)

Director of User Services and Cybersecurity, Lipscomb University

Jessica graduated from Lipscomb University in 1999 with a B.S. in computer information systems. She began working as a programmer and assistant database administrator in the Information Technology Department in January of 2000, moved to user services in January of 2003 and began working in Infrastructure in 2008.

Julie Harston

Julie Harston

Director of Library Services at Beaman Library

Julie Harston is the director of library services at Beaman Library at Lipscomb University. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lipscomb and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has worked in Lipscomb’s library for 17 years. Her favorite genre is historical fiction, and she also loves to read books based in the South. Julie finds joy in traveling with her husband Buddy, spending time with her five young grandchildren, and, of course, reading her favorite authors.

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Jim Humphrey

U.S. Air Force (Retired), Executive Director of God’s Word for Warriors

Jim served in the U.S. Army from 1986-1989 as an enlisted Long-Range Surveillance Scout. He returned to college to complete his bachelor's degree and received a commission in the U.S. Air Force in 1992 where he served as a mission support officer until his retirement in 2011. Jim holds master's degrees in aeronautical science and military Science. He has served in higher education as assistant dean and veterans program director for Lipscomb University, assistant director of admissions and director of veteran services at Maryville College, and senior vice president of operations and sales in a global manufacturing. He is an author, speaker and university adjunct instructor. Jim and his wife Desiree' live in Nashville.

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Dr. Dennis Loyd (’58)

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 (’75)

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, audiobooks 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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Michael McRay (’11)

Author and Founder, Becoming Restoried

Michael McRay (Rob’s nephew) holds an M.Phil. in conflict resolution and reconciliation with Trinity College Dublin at Belfast and a B.A. in history from Lipscomb University. Michael is the award-winning author of I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World, as well as Letters from “Apartheid Street” based on his experiences as Christian Peacemaker in the West Bank. Michael has spent considerable time in Israel and Palestine, making 14 trips since 2000. He has taught classes at Lipscomb with Rob on Israel-Palestine, and is the founder of Becoming Restoried, an online community of people reconciling to their life stories.

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Rob McRay

Adjunct Instructor, Lipscomb College of Bible & Ministry

Rob McRay received his B.A. from Abilene Christian University and his M.A. in Biblical studies from Wheaton College. He did further graduate study in the Ancient Mediterranean World at the University of Chicago. Rob has lived in Israel and Palestine, excavated with his father in Caesarea, travelled widely in the Middle East and led a number of tours. He served for more than 30 years as the senior minister for several congregations, including the Donelson Church of Christ, and currently serves as an interim minister with Interim Ministry Partners.

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Mattie Neal (’20)

Artist & Lipscomb Academy Alumna

Mattie Ree Neal is a native Nashvillian and attended Lipscomb Academy from K-12th grade where she was chosen as Fine Arts Student of the Year in 2020. Following her graduation from high school that same year, and driven to be an artist, she embarked on an internship with her father, artist Michael Shane Neal. Having spent most of her life in his studio and in the studio of his mentor, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Mattie Ree is devoted to continuing her artistic journey through study of history, great museums, travel and study directly with living master artists around the world. She recently established a studio on the grounds of her home where she paints, studies and teaches art to children and adults alike. Mattie has also taught with Drawing New York in Manhattan.

Mattie received the 2020 Scholastic American Visions Award for Painting with a ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York. She also won the 2019 and 2020 Congressional Art Competitions for the 5th District of Tennessee. Her winning painting was on display for two years in the U. S. Capitol. Also in 2020, Mattie received an honorable mention in the Art Renewal Center Salon, a finalist in the Portrait Society of America’s Members Only Competition, and was featured in International Artist Magazine in an article entitled “Creating New Paths for the Future Generation.” She was also featured in the Tennessean newspaper in an article entitled “A Rare honor: Nashville dad and teen daughter both have art in US Capitol.” Mattie Ree has successfully completed many portrait commissions and has most recently been included in the Select 50 of the 2023 Portrait Society of America International Competition. Her piece was juried into the top 100 of 3,075 entries.

Mattie is a member of the Portrait Society of America and the Salmagundi Club. She is living in New York part time and has a piece in the collection of The Players Club of New York. In Fall 2022, Mattie was chosen by the MET Museum's copyist program to take part in a nine-week study where she painted in the gallery from Sargent's Wyndham Sisters. Mattie Ree plans to continue to pursue her passion for art and is dedicated to growing and making painting and drawing her life’s career.

While traveling to study with today's masters in traditional art, Mattie has worked to round her education by reading extensively across many subjects and fostering her interest in economics, science, literature, faith and history. She has always had a particular interest in United States history and Egyptology.

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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.

Lifelong Learning - Paul Prill

Dr. Paul Prill

Retired Lipscomb University Professor and Certified Master Gardener of Davidson County

Paul Prill retired from Lipscomb after 42 years of teaching. He has since become a certified Master Gardener of Davidson County, and he serves on the board of Wild Ones of Middle Tennessee. He will soon complete the Certification in Native Plants offered by the Tennessee Valley chapter of Wild Ones, and he has spent the last two years planting a mostly native garden in his yard that features over 75 different species of native trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers.


Linda Peek Schacht (’72)

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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Dr. Tom Seals (’71)

Author, U.S. Marine veteran, Lipscomb Professor of Bible & Ministry (Retired), Founder of God’s Word for Warriors

Tom served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1957-1960 with the 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan, followed by several years with the U.S. Government in Europe. He is a former 28-year professor of undergraduate Bible courses as well as biblical ethics and textual studies at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, and has served as chaplain to campus Veterans. He received his B.A. in biblical languages from Lipscomb in 1971, his M.T.S. degree from Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C. in 1976, and his D. Min. degree from Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1999. In addition, Tom has completed post-doctoral work in pentateuchal studies and in religion, politics and social issues from Vanderbilt University. He has published numerous literary works to include God’s Word for Warriors. His is former pulpit minister in Virginia, Tennessee and Colorado.

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Dr. Jim Thomas (’71)

Professor of Communication & Executive Assistant to the President at Lipscomb University (Retired)

Jim Thomas teaches in the graduate education and communication programs at Lipscomb University. He has also served as instructor in speech, director of Advance, director of University 1101, director of student retention, assistant registrar, registrar, dean of enrollment, dean of students, chair of the Department of Speech Communication, Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, vice president of enrollment and marketing, and served as the executive assistant to the president of Lipscomb University. He currently teaches as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in its Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution in School of Law.

J.T. Thompson

Owner, The Lotz House

On any given day, visitors will find J.T. Thompson suited up with a tie and vest leading tours around the Lotz House. It’s white robust columns greet passers-by on Columbia Avenue in Franklin, Tennessee.

When J.T. Thompson moved to Franklin when he was 15, his first job was taking guests on tours of the Carter House. From an early age, he has had a great love of history and is passionate about historical preservation.

In 2000, a for sale sign in the yard of the Lotz House got the attention of this 1985 Harding University graduate and former television news director. He and his wife, Susan, purchased the house at that time. It is one of the three major house tours that shape the story of the Battle of Franklin, along with the Carter House and Carnton. The Thompson’s waited eight years before opening the doors for the first tour.

The Lotz family stood as witnesses to history as they watched the Battle of Franklin unfold in front of them on Nov. 30, 1864, a time that the Thompsons want preserved for the generations who come after them. The Lotz House has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.

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Kay Wyatt (’69)

Retired Lipscomb Academy English Faculty

Kay Wyatt is a retired high school English teacher.  She completed her undergraduate studies at Lipscomb University and received her Master's in English teaching from Middle Tennessee State University.  She worked as assistant manager of international operations at Commerce Union Bank, and later taught English at David Lipscomb High School for seven years while raising her three children.

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Matt Yancey

Tennessee Deputy Commissioner of Behavioral Health Community Programs

Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) Deputy Commissioner Matt Yancey serves as top advisor to Commissioner Marie Williams regarding public behavioral health community programming while providing executive leadership for the Department’s Division of Mental Health Services and Division of Substance Abuse Services. Yancey provides oversight for a $250+ million-dollar annual budget comprising of both state and federal funding. Yancey oversees the implementation 900+ contracts with partnering grantees to provide community-based programs and services across the state of Tennessee, while supporting a team of 100+ staff.

Prior to serving as Deputy Commissioner, Yancey served as assistant commissioner for the TDMHSAS Division of Mental Health Services. Previously Yancey served as director for the Office of Children, Young Adults, and Families with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, as director for the Office of Adolescent and School Health with the Georgia Department of Public Health and director for Success for All Students with Georgia’s second largest school district, the Cobb County School District. Yancey also has extensive experience in child welfare, beginning his career with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services.

Yancey is licensed clinical social worker and holds graduate degrees in social work and public administration.