Our County: Lee University our ambassador to the world
by D. Gary Davis
Jan 15, 2013 | 507 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Nov. 1, I was privileged to be in attendance in the Conn Center when U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, paid a visit to the Lee University campus.

The packed auditorium was treated to a variety of musical selections from the university’s Music Department. The talent on display made it clear why the university’s music program has achieved national recognition and has been a full member of the National Association of Schools of Music since 1998.

Following the program, Dr. Paul Conn introduced Alexander, who commented about the outstanding talent and high quality of instruction in the university’s School of Music. Then the packed auditorium erupted into applause when the senator invited the university’s combined choir to sing at the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21.

Regardless of your politics, this is a great honor and once again places Lee University, and by extension Cleveland and Bradley County, in the national spotlight.

This isn’t the first time Lee students have given the world a glimpse of our community through national TV. In 2009, the Voices of Lee under the direction of Danny Murray captured third place on the NBC show “The Sing-Off.” The group’s exposure on the national stage prompted numerous inquiries from across the country about the university and our community. Since 1994, The Voices have appeared on “Good Morning America,” at Bill Gaither’s Family Fest and Praise Gathering; toured Europe, including a concert at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and performed at Christmas at the White House. These singers have literally traveled the globe giving people a glimpse of Cleveland and Bradley County.

The latest national exposure came from Fox News Channel on the weekend of Jan. 5. The host of “Fox News and Commentary” and Lee alum Todd Starnes brought a TV crew to the Lee campus for a behind-the-scenes look at the choir’s preparations for its Jan. 21 performance in Washington. Starnes’ piece aired on the popular “Fox and Friends” morning TV show as well as on his radio program, which is heard on many stations across the U.S. Once again, Lee students proved to be able ambassadors for our community.

The various musical groups at Lee, which include Voices of Lee, Lee Chorale, Ladies of Lee, Lee Singers, Campus Choir, Evangelistic Singers and Choral Union, have a great track record of representing our community’s character and values to the world. I hope you will join me in expressing your appreciation as the combined choir continues that tradition at the presidential inauguration later this month.

The combined 200-voice choir will sing outdoors at the Capitol on the upper west terrace and the performance will take place just before the official swearing-in ceremonies at noon. Director Dr. William Green says he has selected nine songs which reflect the Christ-centered beliefs of the university as well as the deep patriotism of our community.

As Bradley County mayor, I commend Lee University for becoming one of the best schools of higher learning in the Southeast according to the Princeton Review. In 2012, U.S. News and World Report ranked the university No. 46 among all universities in the Southern region of the United States. Its “Study Abroad” program includes 30 nations around the world and its community service program directed by the Leonard Center is second to none.

I am proud of Lee University and all it represents. Through the years, many of the school’s graduates have chosen to stay in Bradley County and have become businessmen, teachers, pastors and community leaders. In the process, Lee has become one of the largest private institutions in Tennessee, with about 5,000 students on 120 acres.

This is just one more reason why I say, “Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.” For more information about the school, visit www.leeuniversity.edu.