Lipscomb University General Counsel Phil Ellenburg has been named president of Middle Tennessee Christian School (MTCS). The board officially voted to appoint Ellenburg as its president at a special meeting Sunday afternoon. He will transition into that role effective in April.
Located in Murfreesboro, Tenn., MTCS is a private PreK-12 school affiliated with the Churches of Christ that has an enrollment of 672 students. From its founding in 1962, MTCS has identified three priorities: to be a school that offers excellent, accredited academic programming; to ensure that every student receives instruction from the Bible, which will be emphasized in all areas; and the school will provide Christian influence and environment in all activities.
“Dr. Ellenburg’s proven leadership ability along with the vision and passion he has for Christian education makes him a perfect fit to lead Middle Tennessee Christian School as it continues to grow and expand. We look forward to this new chapter in our school’s history,” said Bob Schaffer, chairman of the MTCS board of trustees.
“The opportunity to build on MTCS’s long history of excellence is exciting,” Ellenburg said.
“You never know what God has planned for us. This is a very unique opportunity to help build on the great foundation already in place at MTCS. It was clear that God opened a door that we needed to walk through,” he said.
“I am passionate about young people. There is a great alumni base here along with great faculty, staff and supporters. This is an exciting time at MTCS.”
Ellenburg said he plans to spend time “watching, listening and learning” as he begins his new role. He believes there are a number of opportunities to grow the school, especially since it’s located in one of the fastest-growing counties in Tennessee. He said his short-term goals for the institution are to raise awareness in the community about MTCS, to build on the school’s excellence and to energize the school’s community.
His experience as a member of Lipscomb University’s administration is something Ellenburg said has prepared him for this new role.
“I have had the privilege to be a part of a great team of people at Lipscomb and feel good about the accomplishments that we have made,” said Ellenburg. “I believe that my time representing and providing counsel to Lipscomb University and Lipscomb Academy has helped to prepare me to lead Middle Tennessee Christian School. The vision and leadership at Lipscomb have provided invaluable learning experiences for me. I have been blessed to participate in a wide array of experiences representing kindergarten through graduate school, on and off campus and around the world that have prepared me for such a time as this.”
Ellenburg was named associate university attorney at Lipscomb in January 1994 and was soon promoted to general counsel. While at Lipscomb, Ellenburg is credited with:
• Leading the nearly decade-long process of gaining “institutional overlay” status for the campus masterplan from Nashville’s Metro Council, making Lipscomb the first university in Nashville to be granted the new institutional overlay status. This decision paved the way for Lipscomb and other universities in Nashville to formally codify plans for future growth and expansion;
• Successfully guiding the university through a 12-year court battle regarding Lipscomb University’s use of tax-exempt Industrial Revenue Bonds for campus construction, where Lipscomb finally prevailed at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and which the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review, ending the litigation;
• Assisting the university and academy in developing a number of projects including Longview, the soccer practice fields and most recently the Griffith Soccer Complex;
• Creating the Office of Risk Management, hiring the university’s first risk manager significantly upgrading the university’s emergency preparedness and response plan;
• Navigating the legal aspect of the university athletics program’s transition from NAIA to NCAA competition; and
• Under his oversight, expanding the scope of the Office of Campus Security and Safety, as well as helping the university navigate numerous other behind the scenes challenges.
A native of Merritt Island, Fla., Ellenburg earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Lipscomb University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky. Prior to his tenure at Lipscomb, Ellenburg practiced in the Nashville firm of Watkins, McGugin, McNeilly & Rowan. He is a member of the Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations, as well as the National Association for College and University Attorneys. He is admitted to practice before all courts in Tennessee, the U.S. Tax Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court and is a frequent speaker on general legal matters facing primary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education.