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Dr. Cara Cochran Appointed Dean of the School of Counseling

With a long history as an administrator in higher education, including serving as the Assistant then Associate Dean of the School of Counseling at Richmont for 6 years and as Dean of the School of Counseling under a two-year appointment, Dr. Josh Rice has appointed Dr. Cara Cochran as the Dean of the School of Counseling.

“Working with the faculty and staff of Richmont’s School of Counseling for the last two years has been an incredibly rewarding professional experience. Richmont’s faculty and staff are a community. In the role of dean, I have the opportunity to see each member of this community excel in doing the work for which they are so exceptionally gifted. I am grateful, every day, to have the opportunity to serve alongside the Richmont community,” Cochran remarks.

“It has been a joy to work closely with Dr. Cochran over the last two years in building and leading the faculty. During this season of growth, Dr. Cochran has demonstrated constant poise and administrative acumen that has benefitted our faculty, students, and staff. I am happy that she has accepted this permanent role, particularly as we have major strategic plan initiatives in the school of counseling over the next two years,” says Rice.
Congratulations, Dr. Cochran!

Richmont’s President Receives Inaugural Sharp Leadership Award

President Timothy Quinnan was honored by receiving the inaugural Sharp Leadership Award at the 2024 Commencement ceremony. Trustee Tom Decosimo of Chattanooga and Board Chair Ann Keller of Atlanta jointly sponsored this new award to recognize extraordinary leadership contributions which “leave an indelible mark in the Parade of Providence that defines Richmont.”

The title of this new award, Sharp, refers to the multi-generational impact of both the Sharp and Gillespie families who have been instrumental to the University’s longevity and success. Given their legacy, it is only fitting that the Sharp name was used to celebrate today’s leaders whose “…determination and ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible” enable Richmont to flourish.

In acknowledging the award, Dr. Quinnan stated that “Serving at Richmont these last seven years has been the most exhilarating of my career. It’s a privilege I never take for granted and thank the Lord for every day.” He arrived in 2017 and has led the University to record levels of enrollment, fund-raising, external grant awards, governmental recognition, and academic excellence. Dr. Quinnan also authored the University’s strategic plans, launched a thriving online degree program, added the first doctoral program in school history, and secured gold-standard recognition for Richmont by both state, accreditation agency, and profession-specific licensing boards.

Dr. Gary Moon and Dr. Preston Hill Contribute New Essays on Clinical Theology with The Martin Institute at Westmont College

“All theology should be clinical theology.” That is the phrase Dallas Willard spoke at a conference back in the early 1990s. And it is the phrase that is inspiring the creation of the clinical theology section of Conversatio Divina.

Dr. Preston Hill published an essay, “Therapeutic Theology: Doctrines that Catalyze Human Flourishing,” making a compelling case that, ultimately, “theology should actively be shaped by lived experience and aimed at experiences of flourishing in sacred friendship.” And he makes the bold claim that Jesus was the first therapeutic theologian.

In another essay, “Two Sides of Psychology’s Normal Curve: Love and Fear,” Dr. Gary Moon takes inspiration from Bono’s autobiography, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, and the poet Michael Leunig, to suggest that the primary two human states are love and fear. He then discusses some of the implications of these two “notes”—so divergent that they cannot be played at the same time—to human flourishing.

Richmont Faculty & Students Present at the Annual CAPS Conference

Richmont Faculty & Students Present at the Annual CAPS Conference
Hundreds of Christian mental health professionals gathered in Atlanta on March 21-23, 2024 for the Christian Association of Psychological Studies Conference. Richmont’s faculty, Dr. Kathleen Bazile, Dr. Amanda Blackburn, Dr. Robert Duckworth, Dr. Preston Hill, Dr. Stan Hoover, and Dr. Mary Plisco attended the conference along with Richmont staff members Cassie Martin, Rochelle Mason, and Michelle West, and student presenters Hope Tuttle, Grace Rapp, and Abigail Guadnola.



And They Wrote a Devotion Instead: Enhancing Experiential Integration in Counselor Education and Group Supervision
Dr. Amanda Blackburn, Dr. Stanley Hoover, Dr. Mary Plisco, and Hope Tuttle

Deconstructed Lectio Divina: An Intervention to Increase Spiritual Meaning-Making Among Religious Dones
Dr. Preston Hill

Illuminating the Path: Integrating Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Training
Dr. Kathleen Bazile, Dr. Amanda Blackburn, & Dr. DeVon Mills.

Perspectives Regarding Motivations for Adoption by Ethnic Minority Christian Adoptive Parents
Grace Rapp, Mentored by Dr. Mary Plisco

Religious/Spiritual Abuse and Trauma: Areas of Consideration for Future Research, Therapeutic Assessment, and Program Evaluation
Abigail Guadnola, Mentored by Dr. Mary Plisco

Dr. Stanley Hoover Coauthors a Chapter of Christian Integration in Counselor Education

Richmont’s Dr. Stanley Hoover and Liberty University’s Dr. Jama Davis coauthored a chapter in the newly published textbook Christian Integration in Counselor Education. Hoover & Davis’s chapter focuses on Christian integration in helping relationships. The textbook is comprised of the perspectives of 55 contributing authors committed to the integration of faith in the counseling profession and is designed to be utilized in faith-based CACREP-accredited counseling programs.

Learn more about the textbook here.

Richmont Continues Record Enrollment Trend

Richmont Graduate University has achieved another remarkable record enrollment this Spring of three hundred and sixty-nine students.

As students and faculty began the 2024 Spring semester, Richmont welcomed its largest number of students engaged in courses at both Atlanta and Chattanooga campuses, a thriving online campus, and a newly established doctoral cohort.

At a time when many graduate institutions have struggled to maintain sustainable enrollment numbers, Richmont’s semester-to-semester retention rates are at 96%. Roxie Shellabarger, Vice President of Administration, attributes this to “the incredible investment of Richmont staff and faculty into students, as well as Richmont’s emphasis on community and self-care.”

Richmont Hosts Book Signing for President Quinnan

“Only God could write a story so touching as this” – Courtney Force, author of Soul Dancer

On January 22, Richmont hosted a gathering honoring President Timothy Quinnan’s new book, Call Me Jonah. The event included active audience participation during a Q&A group discussion, readings by attendees of favorite passages, and closed with a book signing of the fastest-selling debut novel in his publisher’s history. The sizable turnout included many Richmont faculty, staff, and current and former students.

When asked, Dr. Quinnan said that his goal with Call Me Jonah was to write a story that anyone could be uplifted by, regardless of age, personal faith, or worldview. Evidence of success in this aim was reflected in the diverse crowd that gathered to discuss what the book meant to them and how they felt a resonance with its themes. In addition to the title’s main spiritual and psychological themes, its overarching message is that “love is eternal and transcends everything in the universe, even our notions of time and space, reality, and life and death.”

For those who missed this event, a highlights video is posted below. Call Me Jonah is available for purchase at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Ozark Mountain Publishing.


Richmont receives grant from the Eudokias Foundation to further support prestigious research grant from the John Templeton Foundation

Richmont recently launched the Spiritual First Responders Project, a major research initiative initially funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. This project advances mental health interventions for spiritual thriving and well-being among those who are experiencing mental distress, including those experiencing spiritual struggles, church hurt, and faith deconstruction. The Eudokias Foundation recognizes the urgency of this spiritual public health need and is generously partnering to provide financial support for this research initiative.

The Eudokias Foundation ( takes its name from Luke 2:14, which references both the glory and grace of God, with peace being available to people who genuinely receive that grace at an identity level. The mission and philosophy of Eudokias include fostering spiritual growth and mental well-being in the spiritual lives of individuals and communities by opening access to meaningful encounters with the Holy Spirit to empower people to have heartfelt confidence in being God’s beloved little children.

This generous in-kind support highlights the importance of Richmont’s Spiritual First Responders Project which is being recognized by philanthropies like Templeton and Eudokias.

Richmont’s Dr. Oliver and Dr. Hill Keynoting at the Tennessee Association of Pastoral Therapy Conference

The Evangelical Purity Culture Movement (PCM) is a social movement focused on eliminating premarital sexual behavior which began in the 1990s and still continues today. This presentation will focus on the efficacy of the PCM as well as the long-term emotional, psychological, and sexual implications for women who came of age in the PCM. It will also address clinical implications for counselors and therapists working with this population, as well as suggestions for healthier alternatives to sexuality education for today’s youth.

Among those who leave religion, there are some who persist with spiritual desires for meaning and transcendent connection. Many of these “spiritually practicing” religious “dones” experience unique mental health challenges likely related to the religious trauma and social adversity they cite as top reasons for disaffiliating from religion. In this talk, I’ll discuss the challenges and possibilities for “remixed” spiritual experience among this population by setting faith deconstruction and reconstruction in a theological context and drawing implications for mental health care among this group.

Dr. Emily Oliver will be presenting on the Evangelical Purity Culture Movement and Mental Health Treatment Considerations.

Dr. Preston Hill will be presenting on Meaning and Mental Health with Religious “Dones”.


Click HERE to learn more about this continuing education event and purchase your ticket.

January 19, 2024
6:45 – 9:00 PM
(Virtual Gathering on Zoom)

2 hours CE credit

Richmont Launches The Spiritual First Responders Project Funded by The John Templeton Foundation

Until recently, social sciences only studied different religious identities (Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, etc) and identifying as none of these meant being labelled a religious “none.” However, recent studies in psychology have discovered a new group of people called the religious “dones.” Unlike some “nones” who have never been religious, this new group contains people who were religious at one point but have now deidentified from religion.

But, religious “dones” aren’t always completely “done.” Sometimes they may not have totally deidentified but would describe themselves as “deconstructing.” Studies also show that the spiritually-seeking religious “dones” have the highest rates of depression, anxiety, and mental health needs.

Our project is devoted to providing access to mental health care and spiritual meaning making for spiritually seeking religious “dones.”

Learn more at