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Lee University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate and masters degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lee University. Teacher education programs are approved by the Tennessee State Department of Education for licensure. The School of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21; Reston, Virginia 20190; telephone: 703-437-0700). Lee also holds membership in the American Council on Education, the Council of Independent Colleges, the Tennessee College Association, the Tennessee Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the Appalachian College Association.
Lee University is a Christian institution which offers liberal arts and professional education on both the baccalaureate and graduate levels. It seeks to provide education that integrates biblical truth as revealed in the Holy Scriptures with truth discovered through the study of arts and sciences and in the practice of various professions. A personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior is the controlling perspective from which the educational enterprise is carried out. The foundational purpose of all educational programs is to develop within the students knowledge, appreciation, understanding, ability and skills which will prepare them for responsible Christian living in a complex world.
Founded as the Bible Training School in 1918 by the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, the institution was renamed in 1947 to honor its second president, the Reverend F. J. Lee, and attained university status in 1997. The original purpose was to provide both general and biblical training for those persons entering the Christian ministry and through the years Lee University has continued this purpose of “ministry,” ever more broadly defined to include both church and non-church vocations.
Enrollment consists primarily of recent high school graduates; sixty percent of the students reside on campus. In order to maintain a sense of Christian community and enhance the personal, spiritual, academic, emotional and physical development of students, Lee University seeks to foster a residential campus experience, with special focus on the needs of freshmen and sophomores. The university works to create common space on the campus and a common core of residential events around which the entire community operates. Most of the students are affiliated with the Church of God, although many come from other denominations. Lee University serves the Church and society by offering graduate programs in various professions and academic disciplines. These post-baccalaureate programs are designed to deepen one’s understanding of a discipline and/or strengthen one’s skills as a professional. The goal of all graduate degree programs is to nurture scholars and professionals who will better serve the kingdom of God and the world. In this way, the graduate programs are a natural extension of the university’s commitment to undergraduate education.
As an independent institution, Lee University is controlled by a Board of Directors appointed by the General Executive Committee of the denomination. The President is responsible to this board for facilitating an educational program presented from a theological perspective that is conservative, evangelical and Pentecostal. In keeping with the amended Charter of Incorporation (1968) and the Bylaws of Lee University (article I, sections 2 and 4), all board members, administrators and faculty members certify annually by contract that they will not advocate anything contrary to the Church of God Declaration of Faith.
Lee University endeavors to employ scholars with the highest academic credentials who present their disciplines from a distinctly Christian perspective. All truth is perceived to be God’s truth, and the effective presentation and integration of truth is the goal. Lee University values teaching as the most important faculty role, and excellence in teaching is the primary standard for retention, tenure and promotion. Faculty research is seen as essential to teaching excellence. It, too, is an important criterion for faculty advancement. Lee University values and rewards Christian community service and service to humankind as significant faculty responsibilities.
Lee University identifies its public service region as being generally coterminous with the geographic scope of the denomination. While most students come from the United States, the student body typically consists of representatives of a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds from all fifty states and more than twenty countries in Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Because of this geographic span, the university serves a racially, ethnically and culturally diverse student body with 15 percent international or minority students. The institution has adopted the policy that no person in whatever relation with Lee University shall be subject to discrimination because of race, color, national origin, age, gender or disability.
Lee University attracts students with widely varied academic skills. The university is committed to serve under-prepared students with a variety of support services. While the primary source of funding is from student revenues, the Church of God provides for the university in its annual budget. The university also receives support from alumni, businesses, churches, foundations and friends.
All baccalaureate degree students at Lee University must complete a general education core including eighteen semester hours of religion. The general education courses foster intellectual development by enhancing the student’s ability to observe, read and think critically and to communicate effectively. The courses also cultivate awareness, understanding and respect for cultural diversity. The religion core courses are predicated on the Reformation principle of the priesthood of the believers. The courses are designed to enable the student both to understand and articulate the Christian faith. The campus curriculum is enriched by American, Latin American, European, African, and Asian studies programs, study tours, and service-to humankind projects, as well as courses offered by the Center for Adult and Professional Studies for non-resident students.
An integral part of the university mission is a commitment to training responsible citizens to contribute their God-given gifts to the community at large. A biblical understanding of service and benevolence is introduced in the general education core, actualized through planned, reflective community engagement and developed in various major courses.
Lee University takes seriously the task of preparing students for responsible Christian living in a complex world. The goal is pursued within a variety of structures provided within the widest campus context, such as classroom instruction, extracurricular activities, student development services and residential living. The university realizes that the knowledge, appreciation, understanding, ability and skill for such resourceful living will be evident in its students in direct proportion to the success of its programs and service whereby a healthy physical, mental, social, cultural and spiritual development is fostered.
The Lee University experience intends to demonstrate that there is a positive correlation between scholarship and wholeness; that one must approach all learning with a sense of privilege and responsibility under God; that truth is truth wherever it is found, whether test tube, literary or artistic masterpiece or Holy Scripture; that appropriate integration of truth is both intellectual and behavioral in nature; and that the pursuit and application of truth is, indeed, “ministry.”
As a Christian university operated under the auspices of the Church of God, Lee University is firmly committed to the conservative, evangelical, Pentecostal religious position of its sponsoring denomination. This position is expressed in the “Declaration of Faith” as follows:
In the verbal inspiration of the Bible.
In one God eternally existing in three persons; namely, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
That Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father, conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary.
That Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. That He ascended to heaven and is today at the right hand of the Father as the Intercessor.
That all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and that repentance is commanded of God for all and necessary for forgiveness of sins.
That justification, regeneration, and the new birth are wrought by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. In sanctification subsequent to the new birth, through faith in the blood of Christ, through the Word, and by the Holy Ghost.
Holiness to be God’s standard of living for His people.
In the baptism with the Holy Ghost subsequent to a clean heart.
In speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance and that it is the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
In water baptism by immersion, and all who repent should be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
That divine healing is provided for all in the atonement.
In the Lord’s Supper and washing of the saints’ feet.
In the pre-millennial second coming of Jesus. First, to resurrect the righteous dead and to catch away the living saints to Him in the air. Second, to reign on the earth a thousand years.
In the bodily resurrection; eternal life for the righteous, and eternal punishment for the wicked.
The nature and range of this commitment are demonstrated in the objectives of the institution. Lee University seeks to:
- Provide a general education program which will equip students with quantitative, verbal and technological skills; enhance their appreciation of their cultural and religious heritage; strengthen their commitment to the liberal arts; and give them a view of their responsibility as Christian scholars in the community and the wider world.
- Provide sufficient religious education to enable students to be conversant in the Christian faith, to articulate their own beliefs and to actualize their faith through consistent growth and practice by the integration of faith with all aspects of life.
- Provide undergraduate programs of sufficient quality to prepare students for success in graduate and professional school and in the early stages of their careers.
- Provide graduate programs in various areas which will prepare students for success in post-graduate programs.
- Achieve the quality of instruction and resources necessary for the national accreditation of selected areas and the development of the additional graduate programs where appropriate.
- Provide academic support through computer facilities, library resources, student support services and faculty development opportunities to ensure quality instruction and a challenging academic environment.
- Provide a campus environment that supports and encourages students in their personal, social, spiritual, cultural and physical development.
- Prepare students for successful personal and professional life by developing in them a commitment to Christian values in vocational goals and lifestyle choices.
- Prepare students for citizenship as Christians in the world through reflective community interactions and teach commitment to ideals of service, benevolence, civic virtue and social justice.
- Increase the diversity of the faculty and student body, address the unique needs of a diverse campus population, and encourage academic inquiry into minority concerns.
- Recruit, develop and retain a diverse community of teaching professionals, administrators and support staff who demonstrate excellence in their professional roles and effectively implement the mission of the university in their lifestyles and co-curricular involvement.
- Continue the growth of the student enrollment and development of the capital assets to optimize student opportunities.
- Preserve the evangelical and Pentecostal heritage and message of the Church of God and provide positive direction for its future.
- Provide quality academic, spiritual, cultural and recreational services to its various publics.
General Education Core Goals
Education is built upon the pursuit, discovery, and understanding of truth and its application to the processes of life. Upon this foundation the general educational objectives of Lee University are projected. Graduates of Lee University should be able to:
- Demonstrate a basic knowledge of biblical literature, biblical history, and the tenets of Christian theology including the distinctives of evangelical, Pentecostal faith and practice.
- Articulate a biblical worldview and relate it to contemporary global issues.
- Approach all of life from the perspective which a personal commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ gives to learning, social interaction, vocation and lifestyle.
- Demonstrate the integration of biblical faith and learning in the chosen discipline.
- Use spoken and written English effectively.
- Demonstrate analytical, critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.
- Demonstrate computer literacy.
- Identify and use appropriate resources and technology to perform research.
- Apply mathematical principles to problem solving.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the heritage of Western Culture.
- Show an appreciation and understanding of the fine arts (music, drama, literature and the visual arts) and express themselves through the arts and aesthetic means.
- Articulate a Christian worldview and relate it to contemporary social and political issues in a global context.
- Exhibit an understanding of human behavior and the biblical mandates regarding personal responsibility to God, self, family and the social and natural order.
- Demonstrate knowledge of American society, including social institutions, social roles and historical change.
- Practice good financial principles, consumer economics and biblical stewardship.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the dynamics of economic systems and their impact on international relations.
- Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the natural/physical world and reveal a well-developed sense of stewardship of its resources.
- Apply scientific research methods to the investigation of the natural/physical world.
- Demonstrate the knowledge, understanding, respect and language skills needed to function effectively in a culturally and ethnically diverse nation and world.
Philosophy of Calling and Career
Lee University believes that God gives strengths, talents or gifts to all humans in creation. We also believe that God calls people in two ways: primarily to a relationship with God and secondarily to tasks and careers in response to that relationship.
Understanding these gifts and callings as fundamental to a meaningful life on earth, Lee University attempts to create an atmosphere where questions about calling and career are encouraged. The university accomplishes this through discussion of calling with-in courses throughout the curriculum, through vocational retreats and chapel speakers, through the Center for Calling and Career, through other programs sponsored by the Poiema Project and through our own quest for understanding our personal strengths and call from God in the Spirit. The goal is that we all might love God with our whole being and love our neighbors as ourselves.
Athletic Philosophy and Mission
Lee University, as a Christian liberal arts university, is committed to the principle that God is glorified when individuals develop to their full potential as whole persons - intellectually, spiritually, socially and physically.
The existence of an athletic program at Lee University not only is consistent with this principle but is necessary to it. A university without an athletic program omits an important part of the preparation of its students for “responsible Christian living in the modern world.”
The mission of the intercollegiate athletic program is to assist in the preparation of graduates for Christian service in their occupations, academic pursuits and personal ministry. The success of this preparation depends on programs and services whereby physical, mental, social and spiritual development is fostered. The mission is pursued within a variety of activities provided within the context of the intercollegiate athletic program.
The intercollegiate athletic program is designed to assist in preparing students for “responsible Christian living in the modern world.” Its commitment is to develop an integrated person - one who is spiritually alive, intellectually alert and physically disciplined. This balance is achieved in each athlete by training him/her to think about athletics with a competitive spirit from the Christian perspective.
Lee University engages in intercollegiate athletic competition as a member of the Southern States Athletic Conference and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Varsity teams compete in men’s and women’s basketball, tennis, soccer and cross country; women’s fast pitch softball and volleyball; and men’s golf and baseball with several of our teams qualifying for the national tournament each year. All events are free to students upon presentation of a current identification card.
Historical Sketch of Lee University
Lee University has emerged in recent years as an institution of national standing in many areas that are typically ranked by outside observers. One of the reasons for this emergence is that Lee stands out in a select group of higher education institutions, that of Christ-centered, liberal arts colleges and universities. Another reason is that Lee’s original core values and goals have remained strong even as it has adapted to the changing landscape of academic and professional life.
Lee University’s recent success belies its humble beginnings almost a century ago. In 1918, the Church of God of Cleveland, TN began a small Bible institute to invest in the ministerial training of its young people. From its hopeful beginning of twelve students and one teacher, the school grew and became Lee College, with a Bible college and junior college on its current site, in 1948. Twenty years later, Lee received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a four-year liberal arts college. In 1997 Lee made the transition from college to comprehensive liberal arts university granting masters degrees. In 2009, Lee’s Helen DeVos College of Education launched an Education Specialist degree program.
The liberal arts experiment at Lee College came into its own in the mid 1980s with a deliberate move to embrace the broader evangelical Christian community. The shift brought an influx of new students and faculty. In the two decades between 1986 and 2006, student enrollment more than tripled from just over 1200 to over 4000.
While Lee remains committed to its denominational affiliation, the institution’s inclusive enrollment policy now attracts students with a variety of religious traditions, academic abilities and ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Lee draws students from every state, and the percentage of minorities and internationals is one of the highest in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
The faculty has also grown and diversified to keep pace with the 100 undergraduate major and 15(?) graduate programs in its four schools: the College of Arts & Sciences, the Helen DeVos College of Education, the School of Religion and the School of Music. Faculty members come from around the world and represent a wide range of academic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
Campus construction programs have added significant acreage and more than 20 major buildings to Lee’s landscape over the past two decades. Among these are ten new dormitories, five classroom buildings, a student union building, dining hall, two recreation centers, and the latest addition, the 35,000 sq ft School of Religion Building with a special reading room housing a collection of books donated by influential members of the Lee community.
At the turn of the new millennium, Lee University became a higher education pioneer in incorporating benevolence and service learning, personal strengths development and cross-cultural studies as a regular part of every student’s educational experience. Lee has been recognized for its leadership in preparing students for responsible living and was included in the Honor Roll of Character-Building Colleges by the Templeton Foundation. The Institute of International Education Open Doors reports for the past few years have ranked Lee University among the top five master’s degree granting institutions nationwide for its application of global and cross-cultural studies.
Presidents of Lee University
|A. J. Tomlinson
F. J. Lee
J. B. Ellis
T. S. Payne
J. H. Walker, Sr.
Zeno C. Tharp
J. H. Walker, Sr.
E. L. Simmons
J. Stewart Brinsfield
John C. Jernigan
R. Leonard Carroll, Sr.
R. L. Platt
Ray H. Hughes, Sr.
James A. Cross
Charles W. Conn
Ray H. Hughes, Sr.
R. Lamar Vest
Charles Paul Conn