by Bailey Jarnagin

CLEVELAND, Ga (TMNews) – Students who begin their college career at Truett-McConnell are likely to be in a class presided over by Dr. Constance Nunley. The Professor of English possesses a love for the Lord that is made evident through her love of literature and love for her students.

Encouragement from the English department                                     Dr. Nunley did not always intend to study English; she entered college with the desire to pursue her passion for art. “For my bachelor’s I went to Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina,” shared Nunley. “I double-majored in studio art first and added on the English major my sophomore year.”

Nunley’s shift in academic focus was partly due to the subjectivity of the arts. “I never lost my love for art, but I lost my encouragement for it,” said Nunley.

“It was a very subjective thing and I got told that mine looked like illustration instead of art with a capital ‘A’. I got more encouragement in the area of English from the professors.”

The decision to study English literature was also prompted by the uncertainty of future opportunities in the art field. “I thought English was more practical. I could do more things with it,” reasoned Nunley.

Nunley continued on to earn her Master’s in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

“My emphasis at the University of Georgia was 20th century British and American literature,” recalled Nunley. “My dissertation was on Elizabeth Bowen. I covered her ten novels.”

Ample opportunity throughout the years                                     Nunley was correct in surmising there would be steady opportunity with her degree in English literature; there has never been lack of occasion to make use of her knowledge.

“I did some part-time teaching at Toccoa High School,” said Nunley. “I also taught at Alto Prison. It was interesting. I just taught staff; I wasn’t brave enough to teach the prisoners, but you had to go through the checkpoints and have all the doors closed behind you. It was an odd feeling.”

Nunley was also given the chance to exercise her journalistic capabilities: “For three and a half years I was editor of the White County News. I did feature articles, and I attended all the Board of Education, City Council, and County Commissioner meetings.”

As editor of the paper, Nunley was responsible for formatting the articles. Today’s technology has taken over the job Nunley once held.

“It’s all on the computer now,” stated Nunley, “but we actually had it all spread out and we pasted it to the page.”

Taking part in a harmonious hobby                                                       It is important to balance work and play, and Nunley does so by making time to enjoy music and theater.

In fact, it is because of musical theater that she and her husband met: “We were in a Gainesville Community Theater production of The Sound of Music. He was Max Detweiler and I was Sister Margaretta.”

Today, Nunley’s husband is the director of The Voices of North Georgia and has been for sixteen years.

“All the concerts are a lot of fun,” said Nunley. “We go back and forth between popular music and classical music. The Celtic concert we just did was great fun.”

Nunley’s daughter, Clare, is closely following in the footsteps of her parents at The University of Georgia. “Right now her major is flute performance. She is trying to add on her second major, studio art. She wants to focus mainly on photography,” Nunley proudly shared.

29 years and counting                                                                           29 years ago, Nunley was roused to apply to be a professor at Truett-McConnell College, and she has enjoyed the time spent teaching at the rapidly growing Christian institution.

As a follower of Christ since the age of fifteen, Nunley does not take the freedom to emphasize the Lord in the classroom setting for granted.

“I’ve loved teaching a group of Christian students. It’s fun to be able to say all the things about the works that you wouldn’t be able to say at a public school,” Nunley considered. “You’re able to say all those things, and people know what you’re talking about, too.”

Nunley has witnessed the spiritual advancement of academics during her time at Truett-McConnell. “We’ve gotten more focused on Christianity as we’ve gone along through the years,” she reflected.

Remembering the impact of encouragement from her alma mater’s Department of English, Nunley strives to encourage her students as she continues to serve at TM.

She is looking forward to observing the persisting spiritual growth of TM’s campus, as Christ is considered a vital aspect in all areas of life, including academics.


Bailey is a senior English major and a freelance writer for the college.

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