Farewells: Director of Academic Services retires after 32 years of serving the Trevecca community

Dr. Donna Gray has served the University for more than 30 years, but her Trevecca story starts as an undergraduate student. During those years, Gray has served in a variety of roles on the Hill, ranging from tutor to associate director of academic support. 

Gray, Trevecca’s director of Academic Services, retired from the University following the Spring 2020 semester. The University’s Board of Trustees honored her, along with other retiring faculty members, by granting her emeritus status. 

Over the years, Gray has helped support the academic needs of hundreds of Trevecca students, even before she was a full-time employee. 

“While I was working on my bachelor’s degree, Mrs. Norma (White) Spear took a chance on me and hired me as a tutor,” Gray recalled. “That opportunity was one of the defining experiences that caused me to think about teaching at the college level. I learned so much from her supervising me. She is still a mentor to me, and I thank her so much for believing in me.”

As a full-time employee, Gray was able to invest in dozens of academic tutors, just as Spear was able to invest in her. McClurkan Scholar and 2017 Tutor of the Year Mattie Clemmons Vandiver (’19) thinks of Gray as a mentor and friend. 

“Working for Dr. Gray in various roles was one of my favorite parts of being at Trevecca,” Vandiver said. “When I think of my college experience, I think of sitting in her office, whether it was just me popping in to have a conversation on my off days or asking about work or working in the Writing Center. She was such an encouragement to me personally and academically and has helped guide my future career goals. My dream job is to run a writing center and support students academically, and I credit Dr. Gray’s influence on my life for that.”

Vandiver is not the only tutor that Dr. Gray mentored. Katie Riddle, who has been a writing tutor for the past three years, says Gray has also had an impact on her life. 

“Dr. Gray cares about the students she works with,” Riddle said. “One thing that has stuck with me is how hard she works to help the students who come to us by meeting them wherever they are in their learning. Dr. Gray has also had an impact on me. She's been there to listen and pray with me when life has gotten stressful, and she has modeled such a positive, Christlike attitude.”

Gray’s influence on the Hill doesn’t just extend to her students or student workers. She’s also had an impact on her coworkers, according to Rebecca Headrick, Trevecca’s coordinator of testing. 

“Donna is a gentle, trustworthy, Christ-centered educator who truly wants students to succeed,” Headrick said. “She is a true friend to her students and coworkers. As I went through the adult completion program to finish my own degree, she was my biggest cheerleader. I would not have made it without her guidance and help! She will always be one of my dearest friends. Trevecca will not be the same without her.” 

But in true fashion for a mentor and coworker described as encouraging, Christlike and gentle, Gray attributes much of her success and long tenure at the University to the students she’s served and the coworkers she has worked alongside. When asked who she would like to thank from her time at Trevecca, Gray listed more than 30 co-workers and mentors, including her parents, who also worked as faculty at the University. 

Gray closed her statement by thanking her students and tutors for how much they’ve taught her. 

“Of course, I also must thank my students and tutors—I have learned so much from them each day,” she wrote. “I won’t start naming names because I will leave some out if I do, but they have helped me develop as a professor and administrator. I thank Dr. Boone for believing in me as a faculty member. And I thank the Lord for allowing me the opportunity to learn and grow in my work and learn about His boundless second chances.”

By M. Anna Turpin
Media contact: Mandy Crow, mmcrow@trevecca.edu, 615-248-1695