“I believe God wants Freed-Hardeman to be here, and with Him nothing is impossible,” Freed-Hardeman University President David R. Shannon told the large crowd gathered Thursday morning, Oct. 19, 2017, in Loyd Auditorium for his inauguration. The preacher-turned-president based that assertion on the number of times the future of the almost 150-year-old school looked bleak but helping hands appeared to assure the school would live on.
Shannon recounted times in the school’s history when it “was on the brink of closing, but God provided and Freed-Hardeman survived.” He mentioned economic difficulties in earlier days: when West Tennessee Christian School was facing closure and a donor came to the rescue, financial problems when A.G. Freed and N.B. Hardeman launched National Teachers’ Normal and Business College, when money was needed to build the first men’s residence hall and Paul Gray gave $50,000 and in 1950 when W.A. Bradfield, under the direction of FHC President H.A. Dixon, started a public relations and recruitment program and rebuilt the enrollment. Shannon used these as examples of God’s surrounding Freed-Hardeman.
Surrounded by a host of students, family, friends and the expanded Freed-Hardeman University family, the 16th president of the university officially took the title of the position he has held since June 1, 2017.
The overriding message of David Shannon’s inaugural address, taken from Psalm 125, was that God surrounds His people. “We have trust and confidence because we know God surrounds us,” he said.
Shannon further noted that he has enjoyed the encouraging strength of others. “My life has also been surrounded by good people,” he said. “Three times God has given me good families.” He listed the family he was born into, the family he married into and the family he and his wife, Tracie, have built.
Students, who frequently applauded at the mention of Shannon’s name during the ceremony, described themselves as excited. Hanna Hyche, a junior education major from Pell City, Alabama, said, “I’m excited about David Shannon’s presidency. He’s a genuine and caring person. I’m thankful to be at Freed-Hardeman because it’s been such a blessing in my life.”
Sunni Hooper, freshman nursing major from Shingle Springs, California, said the new president has “a fresh perspective on our generation and what we need.” She’s looking forward to what Shannon’s presidency will mean for the university. “We’re starting our journey here together,” she said.
“I am thrilled with our new president,” Song Nicholas, a junior public relations major from Corinth, Mississippi, said. “His spirituality and love for the school give me hope for the school’s future,” she added.