News + Events

Retired Professor to be Bell Master at Annual Ceremony

Henderson, Tennessee - Aug 14, 2018

Dr. Elizabeth Saunders, retired Freed-Hardeman professor of education, will be the master of the bell at the university’s annual Tolling of the Bell Aug. 22, 2018, at 10:30am in Loyd Auditorium.


The ceremony signals the start of the academic year, uniting students, faculty and the Freed-Hardeman family with those new to the school and those who shaped the private Christian university’s history.

Saunders, who graduated from Freed-Hardeman College in 1967 with an Associate in Arts degree, grew up in Henderson. She entered FHC as the valedictorian of her high school class and in two semesters and two summers became the first black graduate of the college. In 1978, after teaching eight years in Haywood County, she joined the FHC faculty as the school’s first black teacher.

In addition to her Freed-Hardeman degree, Saunders holds a baccalaureate (1970) and a master’s degree from Memphis State University (1975) and a doctorate from East Tennessee State University (1983). At Freed-Hardeman she has been an instructor in the Department of Education and Center for Academic and Life Planning, an academic advisor, professor of interdisciplinary studies and of education and director of graduate studies in education. She retired from the university in 2018 after 40 years of teaching.

Saunders has also been quite active in the local community, serving 14 years on the Henderson Board of Alderman, occupying the seat once held by her father, George Saunders. She was a member the Chester County Advisory Board of Directors for the Carl Perkins Center and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for African Christian Schools. She has traveled extensively, frequently on mission trips.

Saunders has long been interested in improving the reading skills of her students. Her expertise in that area has resulted in her presenting papers and conducting seminars on the topic across the state and nation as well as internationally.

Saunders will toll the bell, brought to Henderson from A.G. Freed’s Essary Springs school, a total of 14 times, once for each decade of the school’s history. The public is invited to attend the Tolling of the Bell.