Roane State supporters remembered as “visionaries” leave lasting legacy in Cumberland County

Dr. Carl Mueller (left) and Diane Brown were longtime supporters of Roane State.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY – They were never employees of the community college or attended classes, but they realized the importance of Roane State and its impact on Cumberland County and the region.

Their dedication to the college produced long-term benefits and cemented lasting legacies: the creation of the large campus on the outskirts of Crossville and the construction of the Cumberland Business Incubator on campus which is operated by the college.

Diane Brown, a longtime teacher at Cumberland County High School, served on the Roane State Foundation Board “and made it her mission to get a Cumberland County Campus built,” said Holly Hanson, Director of Roane State’s Cumberland County site.

“She was one of the major contributors that worked tirelessly to fund raise from the community to be able to build the campus.”

Dr. Carl Mueller was the first person in Cumberland County to introduce the community to the idea of a Cumberland Business Incubator. “It was due to his interest in supporting entrepreneurs that the community, the state of Tennessee and Roane State developed the Cumberland Business Incubator,” Hanson said.

Mrs. Brown, 89, died in December 2020. Dr. Mueller, 81, died in January 2021. 

“They were both visionaries that saw a need and worked hard to ensure that the facilities became a reality,” Hanson said.

Mrs. Brown was born in the Pleasant Hill Community of Cumberland County and was educated in the county school system. She graduated from Vanderbilt University and obtained her master’s degree from Peabody College, now Vanderbilt Peabody College, in 1954.

Mrs. Brown was active in many community affairs in Cumberland County and helped organize Highland Federal Saving and Loan Association. She served as chair of the Art Circle Library Foundation for many years. She left her teaching career in 1985 to become part of the management team at First National Bank of Crossville, now Regions Bank, and retired in 2000.

Dr. Mueller obtained his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland and spent his career as a chemical engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense (Navy). He received two Meritorious Civilian Service awards during his career. A tree at the Cumberland Business Incubator was also dedicated to Dr. Mueller this summer in a special ceremony.

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit or call (865) 882-4554.

Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at

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