Five Questions with Dr. Steve Hoskins



For nearly a quarter century, Dr. Steve Hoskins has served on the faculty of Trevecca’s Millard Reed School of Theology and Christian Ministry. Trevecca’s resident historian, Hoskins teaches church history and New Testament Greek. His articles have appeared in the Journal of the Wesleyan Theological Society, The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, Gottesdienst, and other publications. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Trevecca, master’s degrees from Nazarene Theological Seminary and St. Louis University and two doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees, one from Middle Tennessee State University and another from Graduate Theological Foundation.

Recently, we asked Hoskins a few questions about why his work is fulfilling, what fuels his passion for teaching, and his favorite Trevecca anecdote. Here’s what he had to say.

1. You’ve been a member of Trevecca’s faculty for a while. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen come to campus?

Our campus is a great deal more attractive than it was when I first came to campus in the late 1960s as a little boy (my parents were students here). I lived in a little house behind the College Hill Church in the middle of campus. That house is now buried under the parking lot of Trevecca Towers along with several others. There were a few trees here and there and almost no landscaping or adornment around the buildings. In the proceeding five decades, we’ve added some cool buildings like our “Jeffersonian” library, voted the second most impressive architectural building in Nashville a few years ago, and extensively beautified the place. The natural beauty of the trees and plants adds so much to our setting. The buildings, the Jesus statue in the middle of campus, and the signage noting great names from our past and the faces of the present do so much to make this place a great Christian educational campus. What I like the most is the way all of this together tells the Trevecca story, a place of which we can be proud.

2. Research is important to you. What are your areas of expertise?

As an academic who serves the church, my research is about our shared past and the lives of the Christians who have paved the way for us. I am a historian, I tell folks, so I work with dead people. Those people are fun to hang out with and have a great deal to teach us. They provide me with wonderful stories to share about sacrifice and dedication to the cause of Christ. Most of my research is about their lives: Here on the campus as teachers, as people who built the Church of the Nazarene that sponsors our school, the camp meetings and revivals they held to praise the Lord, and the ministry they have done in Nashville and around the world that provides a roadmap to our future. Last year, I designed the sign in front of the Greathouse Building honoring two of my teachers who are Trevecca legends—Ray Dunning and Mildred Wynkoop. Telling their stories so that our students can find passion for their lives and vocations is what makes me love my work.

3. As Trevecca’s resident historian, you know so much about Trevecca’s past. What is your favorite fun fact or anecdote about Trevecca’s history?

Trevecca’s history is made up of great stories. Not many people remember that we operated a hospital downtown in the early 1900s. We operated our own camp meeting in Lebanon in our earliest days and held camp meetings on the campus on Gallatin Road where we built an actual camp meeting tabernacle. When we moved here in 1935, we continued a two-decades old tradition of operating a college farm, something we still do today. The Board of Trustees had to make a rule in 1936 that we move the pigs and other animals away from the dorms because the attending odors were not exactly delightful to the students. Once, some students let a box of hundreds of crickets loose in chapel. Those memories all make me smile. My favorite Trevecca anecdote: We once had a white mouse get loose and run around during a chapel service when I was a student, and the service was suddenly filled with holy jumpers and shouters.

4. What fuels your passion for teaching students?

The simple answer for me is the Trevecca Story. You can’t fake great history, and ours is a grand narrative. I love telling our story. A legendary first president who took on a small revival movement in Nashville funded by disgruntled Methodists and expanded our boundaries by sending preachers, teachers, and missionaries throughout the Southeast to Chattanooga, Atlanta and Birmingham and around the world to China, India and Argentina. A history of a series of campuses in Nashville that found the poor, the needy, and fertile fields for preaching the gospel waiting on us when we showed up in East Nashville, on the steps of the state capitol, and at our Murfreesboro Road campus today. I want my students to know they are privileged to be educated into a great tradition of godliness and service and the doors of their future are open to the same opportunities today. My great hope is that they will fall in love with the story and enjoy their place within it as I do.

5. What’s the most fulfilling part of your work?

I find my greatest joy in seeing the happiness and success of my students. More than 25 of my students have gone on to achieve the Ph.D. in their field, and hundreds of my students have earned master’s degrees. I am amazed by that, and it makes me happy. When I returned to teach at Trevecca in 1995 after some years doing graduate degrees, I did not think about serving on the faculty with my former teachers or that my students would grow up as I had, have kids and make careers for themselves. Living life with my teachers and students, being part of the tradition that is Trevecca, has brought me joy. I have officiated at the weddings of my students, baptized their kids, attended their graduations and professional successes around the world, and welcomed them back to the campus at Homecoming … I had not counted on fulfillment as being a part of this work, but it is. Those people, those memories, are precious to me and give me great delight.