is a historically black
Historically black colleges and universities are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community....
liberal arts college in Knoxville
Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city in the Appalachia region...
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...
, USA. Founded in 1875 by the United Presbyterian Church of North America
The United Presbyterian Church of North America was an American Presbyterian denomination that existed for exactly one hundred years. It was formed on May 26, 1858 by the union of the Northern branch of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church with the Associate Presbyterian Church at a...
, the school has an enrollment of approximately 100 students, and offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Studies and an Associate of Arts degree. Knoxville College is a United Negro College Fund
The United Negro College Fund is an American philanthropic organization that fundraises college tuition money for black students and general scholarship funds for 39 private historically black colleges and universities. The UNCF was incorporated on April 25, 1944 by Frederick D. Patterson , Mary...
Knoxville College is rooted in a mission school established in Knoxville in 1864 by R. J. Creswell of the United Presbyterian Church to educate the city's free blacks and freed slaves. This school initially met in the First Baptist Church building (which at the time was located on Gay Street
Gay Street is a street in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, that traverses the heart of the city's downtown area. Since its development in the 1790s, Gay Street has served as the city's principal financial and commercial thoroughfare, and has played a primary role in the city's historical and cultural...
) before moving to a permanent facility in East Knoxville in 1866. In spite of general apathy from the city's leaders and threats from poor whites, the school's enrollment gradually grew to over 100.
In the 1870s, the church's Freedmen's Mission, which had established mission schools for freed slaves across the South, decided to refocus its efforts on building a larger, better-equipped school in Knoxville, in part due to stiff competition from other denominations in Nashville. In 1875, the church sold its East Knoxville property and purchased its current property, which at the time consisted of a hill that had been occupied by a Confederate battery
In military organizations, an artillery battery is a unit of guns, mortars, rockets or missiles so grouped in order to facilitate better battlefield communication and command and control, as well as to provide dispersion for its constituent gunnery crews and their systems...
during the Civil War. The school's first building, McKee Hall, named for the Reverend O.S. McKee, was completed in 1876, and the school opened in December of that year. Former governor William G. Brownlow
William Gannaway "Parson" Brownlow was an American newspaper editor, minister, and politician who served as Governor of the state of Tennessee from 1865 to 1869 and as a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1869 to 1875...
and gubernatorial candidate William F. Yardley
William Francis Yardley was an American attorney, politician and civil rights advocate, operating primarily out of Knoxville, Tennessee, in the late 19th century. He was Tennessee's first African American gubernatorial candidate, and is believed to have been the first African American attorney to...
spoke at the opening ceremonies.
The Reverend J. S. McCulloch was named the school's first principal, and Eliza B. Wallace was named the school's principal of female students. The new school was primarily a normal school
A normal school is a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers. Its purpose is to establish teaching standards or norms, hence its name...
, which trained teachers, but also operated an academy for the education of local children. In 1877, the school was designated a college by the state, to the surprise of McCulloch, as few of the school's students were ready for a college-level curriculum. In 1890, the state designated the school the recipient of its Morrill Act
The Morrill Land-Grant Acts are United States statutes that allowed for the creation of land-grant colleges, including the Morrill Act of 1862 and the Morrill Act of 1890 -Passage of original bill:...
funds for blacks, with which the school established mechanical and agricultural departments.
Early 20th century growth
In 1901, Knoxville College finally received a charter from the State of Tennessee. Six years later, the school established the Eliza B. Wallace Hospital, which served a dual purpose of training nurses and tending to the health needs of the local black community. This proved invaluable during the city's Influenza outbreak of 1918. In 1913, John Henry Michael, the head of the school's mechanical department, designed the "Negro Building" for the National Conservation Exposition
The National Conservation Exposition was an exposition held in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States, between September 1, 1913 and November 1, 1913. The exposition celebrated the cause of bringing national attention to conservation activities, especially in the Southeastern United States...
, which was held across town at Chilhowee Park
Chilhowee Park is a public park, fairgrounds and exhibition venue in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, located off Magnolia Avenue in East Knoxville. Developed in the late 19th century, the park is now home to the Tennessee Valley Fair, and hosts several dozen expositions annually...
. The building, which is no longer standing, was constructed with the help of Knoxville College students.
During World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...
, Knoxville College students helped raise money for liberty bond
A Liberty Bond was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the allied cause in World War I. Subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time. The Act of Congress which...
s and the Red Cross. In the aftermath of the Riot of 1919
The Knoxville Riot of 1919 was a race riot that took place in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, on August 30–31, 1919. The riot began when a lynch mob stormed the county jail in search of Maurice Mayes, a mulatto man who had been accused of murdering a white woman...
, one of the city's worst racial episodes, the school's administration (comprising black and white members) staunchly defended the city's African American community, and praised its students' restraint. In 1925, Knoxville College students staged a month-long boycott of classes to protest the school's strict behavioral code, culminating in an all-night negotiating session between student leaders and the school's dean, Herbert Telford. Telford agreed to relax some rules, and allowed the creation of a student council.
In 1957, Knoxville College became one of the first group of predominantly black institutions admitted to full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is one of the six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation...
(SACS). Throughout the summer of 1960, Knoxville College students engaged in a series of sit-in
A sit-in or sit-down is a form of protest that involves occupying seats or sitting down on the floor of an establishment.-Process:In a sit-in, protesters remain until they are evicted, usually by force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met...
s to protest segregation at lunch counters in downtown Knoxville, eventually convincing most downtown businesses to end the practice. The school's charter was amended in 1962 to allow the admission of white students.
Accreditation loss and reorganization
Beginning in the 1970s, Knoxville College began to struggle financially, leading to a gradual decline. In 1997, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools withdrew Knoxville College's accreditation, and the school's financial situation became dire. As enrollment plummeted, the school's debt skyrocketed, and it was unable to pay its faculty or electric bills. In August 2005, the school's Board of Trustees fired the school's president, Barbara Hatton.
Following Hatton's removal, the school's alumni association embarked on an aggressive fundraising campaign, aided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by UT-Battelle. ORNL is the DOE's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville...
scientist, Johnnie Cannon, and the school has gradually rebounded. In January 2010, the school hired Dr. Horace A. Judson as interim president. Judson has implemented a new strategic plan with the following goals: 1. regain accreditation 2. achieve fiscal stability 3. develop academic program distinctiveness 4. develop a Department of Enrollment Management 5. develop a quality student-centered living and learning environment 6. establish new relationships and strengthen former ones among key constituents.
Knoxville College is situated on a 17-building, 39 acres (15.8 ha) campus, located atop a hill overlooking the Mechanicsville
Mechanicsville is a neighborhood in Knoxville, Tennessee, located northwest of the city's downtown area. One of the city's oldest neighborhoods, Mechanicsville was established in the late 1860s for skilled laborers working in the many factories that sprang up along Knoxville's periphery...
neighborhood, just northwest of Knoxville's downtown area. Along with administration and classroom buildings, the campus includes a performing arts center, a gymnasium, a library, a chapel, and a student center. The school maintains dormitories for on-campus students, as well as a president's house, and cottages and apartments for faculty.
Knoxville College Historic District
In 1980, eight buildings on the Knoxville College campus were listed on the National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...
as a historic district for their role in minority education. Many of the earliest buildings were constructed using student labor, student-made bricks, and lumber donated by alumni. The district includes the following buildings:
- McKee Hall, the oldest building on campus, originally built in 1876, largely rebuilt in 1895 following a fire. The building is named for the Reverend O.S. McKee, who had established the first school for African-American children in Nashville in 1862. This building currently houses administration offices.
- The President's House, built in the late 1880s. The house was originally built of wood, but brick siding was added in 1905.
- Wallace Hall, built in 1890 as an orphanage. This building is named for Eliza B. Wallace, the school's principal of female students, 1877–1897.
- Elnathan Hall, built in 1898 following the destruction by fire of the original Elnathan Hall, and altered in 1905 and 1971. This building has served variously as a women's dorm, administration building, and classroom building.
- Two Faculty cottages, 1005 and 1009 College Street, both built in the Bungalow
A bungalow is a type of house, with varying meanings across the world. Common features to many of these definitions include being detached, low-rise , and the use of verandahs...
style in 1906.
- McMillan Chapel, built in 1913, designed by Knoxville College alumnus, William Thomas Jones.
- Giffen Memorial Gymnasium, built in 1929.
A 20-member Board of Trustees oversees Knoxville College. Its chairman (as of 2008) is George Curry. The board includes three faculty representatives and one student representative.
The Board of Trustees appoints the president, who is the school's chief administrator. Horace Judson is the current interim president, appointed in 2010. The president is assisted by the chief operating officer, academic dean, dean of students, director of admissions, development officer, athletic director, and the Center for Public Health director.
As of 2010, Knoxville College offered two degrees: the four-year Bachelor of Liberal Studies, and the two year Associate of Arts. The Bachelor of Liberal Studies includes one of four areas of concentration: Humanities, Business and Computer Sciences, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, or Social and Behavioral Sciences. The curriculum further requires 15 to 18 semester hours of specialization within each concentration, providing for a more in-depth understanding of a particular field.
Knoxville College follows a debt-free policy that allows students to complete the degree program without the accumulation of debt. This is accomplished primarily through its College Work Program, which allows students to offset much of their tuition costs by working for several hours per week. This program involves a mix of performing various tasks around campus, community involvement, and internship programs.
Knoxville College's Student Government Association (SGA), which is elected by the student body, acts as a liaison between students and campus administration. The SGA is led by a president, elected for one term.
Student activities include a dance team, a debate team, a choir, and a trivia team (which competes with other HBCUs in the Honda Bowl Competition). The school's newspaper, The Aurora
, has been published for over a century. The college also maintains a student ambassador program and wellness program that provides volunteer services for the surrounding community.
Knoxville College has dropped most athletics programs in recent years, but is currently in the process of re-establishing men's and women's basketball teams, as well as a cheerleading squad.