Lee University

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Lee University
Lee University Seal.png
Motto"Where Christ is King"[1]
TypePrivate, liberal arts
Religious affiliation
Church of God
EndowmentUS $18.6 million (2015)[3]
PresidentMark L. Walker
Academic staff
236[citation needed]
Students5,370 (fall 2017)[4]
Location, ,
United States[5]

35°09′57″N 84°52′16″W / 35.16583°N 84.87111°W / 35.16583; -84.87111Coordinates: 35°09′57″N 84°52′16″W / 35.16583°N 84.87111°W / 35.16583; -84.87111
CampusSuburban, 130 acres[citation needed]
ColorsBurgundy and navy blue
AthleticsNCAA Division IIGulf South
Lee University logo.png

Lee University is a private Christian university in Cleveland, Tennessee. It was originally the Church of God Bible Training School, a small Bible institute founded in 1918 with 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 graduate degrees.[7] The university is divided into six colleges and schools: the College of Arts & Sciences, the Helen DeVos College of Education, the School of Business, the School of Music, the School of Nursing, and the School of Religion. The university also offers online degrees through the Division of Adult Learning. The university is named for F.J. Lee, its second president.

Lee is well known for the success of its vocal programs and alumni. In 2009, Voices of Lee, the a cappella vocal ensemble directed by Danny Murray, competed on the first season of The Sing-Off, an a capella competition television show on NBC, hosted by Nick Lachey. They finished in third place. In addition, several alumni have found success in popular television singing competitions. Phil Stacey finished in sixth place on season 6 of American Idol. In May 2015, Clark Beckham was runner-up on season 14 of American Idol, and in that same year, alum Jordan Smith won season nine of NBC's The Voice. In December 2017, Brooke Simpson placed third on the thirteenth season of The Voice. In January 2013, the Lee University Festival Choir, a special group composed of singers from each of the choral ensembles, performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.


The birthplace of what is now Lee University was a single room in the Church of God Publishing House.

Lee University has seen its strongest growth since the 1980s, during which time enrollment quadrupled and full university status was attained. Lee's enrollment is 5,370 students, up from 960 in 1986[8] (as of fall 2013). This makes Lee the fifth largest undergraduate enrollment among the 103 Christian colleges who are member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Students currently represent all 50 states and more than 50 countries. On average, Lee also accepts more than 200 transfer students each fall.


  • Ambrose Jessup Tomlinson (1918–1922) [Church of God General Overseer (1909–1923)]
  • Flavius Josephus Lee (1922–1923) [Church of God General Overseer (1923–1928)]
  • J.B. Ellis (1923–1924)
  • T.S. Payne (1924–1930)
  • J. Herbert Walker, Sr. (1930–1935) [Church of God General Overseer (1935–1944)]
  • Zeno C. Tharp (1935–1944) [Church of God General Overseer (1952–1956)]
  • J. Herbert Walker, Sr. (1944–1945)
  • E.L. Simmons (1945–1948)
  • J. Stewart Brinsfield (1948–1951)
  • John C. Jernigan (1951–1952)
  • R. Leonard Carroll, Sr. (1952–1957) [Church of God General Overseer (1970–1972)]
  • R. L. Platt (1957–1960)
  • Ray H. Hughes, Sr. (1960–1966) [Church of God General Overseer (1972–1974; 1978–1982; 1996)]
  • James A. Cross (1966–1970) [Church of God General Overseer (1958–1962)]
  • Charles W. Conn (1970–1982) [Church of God General Overseer (1966–1970)]
  • Ray H. Hughes, Sr. (1982–1984)
  • R. Lamar Vest (1984–1986) [Church of God General Overseer (1990–1994; 2000–2004)]
  • Charles Paul Conn (1986–2020)
  • Mark Walker (2020-current)[9]


Academic programs[edit]

Lee University has a wide range of academic disciplines and extracurricular activities. Many activities, such as chapel attendance (offered twice per week; students are required to attend 70% of services a month), service requirements (10 hours per semester; 80 total hours to graduate), and the study abroad program, called Global Perspectives, are required as part of degree programs. Exceptions and special cases are approved by the relevant academic dean or the president of the university. All non-local entering freshmen are also required to live on campus, with exceptions made for those who are married, divorced, widowed, parents, over age 21, part-time, or living locally with immediate relatives.[10]

Entering freshmen choose their courses of study with guidance of a faculty adviser. New freshmen and transfer students with under 16 credit hours are required to take a course called Gateway to University Success, a one-semester special topics seminar that stresses methods of inquiry, critical analysis, and writing skills, which helps to transition the student to college life. The course is taught by a full-time faculty member and a student Peer Leader. Included in the general education core of all degrees is an emphasis in biblical and theological study.

Lee offers 50 majors with over 100 individual programs. Although the school is notable for its Christ-centered education, communications, psychology, pre-medicine, business, elementary education, and music are considered among its strongest specialties. Lee's intensive teaching, active learning, residence in a community of cultural and global diversity, and its commitment to Christian philosophy in both social and academic life come together to form a distinctive experience of liberal education.[7]


Lee is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate and master's degrees. Lee has been selected for many years as a "Top Tier" institution in the US News and World Report college rankings. "America's 100 Best College Buys" chose Lee as one of their top choices every year since 2006. Since 2000, Lee University has been listed as one of 141 of the Princeton Review's ranking of "best colleges" in the Southeast.[11]

Professional and specialized accreditation have been achieved in the following areas: the School of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the Helen DeVos College of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the School of Business is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and the athletic training program has national accreditation in the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).


According to the catalog portion of Lee University's website, the cost of tuition for a full-time student is $7,200 per semester. In addition, students have the option to pay for on-campus housing or meal plans. The estimated cost of attending Lee is $11,520 per semester for an on-campus student. This includes room, board, tuition, and assorted other costs such as technology fees and books.[12]


The school's sports teams are called the Flames. With membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II, and primarily competing in the Gulf South Conference (GSC), the Flames offer 15 team sports. The available men's sports are baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, JV basketball, rugby, soccer, tennis, and track, with boxing, rugby, and ultimate offered as club sports. Athletic programs offered for women are basketball, cheerleading, cross country, Fastpitch softball, golf, rugby (club), soccer, tennis, track, lacrosse and volleyball.

Student organizations[edit]

Lee features more than 100 student organizations, which include:


Backyard Ministries, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, Big Pal/Little Pal, Chattanooga Church, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, God's Own, Invisible Children, Invasion, Liturgical Charismatic Fellowship, Mission Alive, Outreaching Hands, Outstretched Arms, Pioneers for Christ


Asian Council, Bahamian Connection, Black Student Union, Chinese Student Fellowship, Diversity Council, Leetinos, International Student Fellowship, Umoja, Lee University African Student Association, and Racial Justice Advocacy Club.

Greek Clubs[edit]

Upsilon Xi, Alpha Gamma Chi, Delta Zeta Tau, Sigma Nu Sigma, Pi Kappa Pi, Epsilon Lambda Phi, Theta Delta Kappa, Omega Alpha Phi, Tau Kappa Omega, Sigma Alpha Omega, Kappa Upsilon Chi

Social service organizations[edit]

Acting on Aids, Amnesty International, College Democrats, College Republicans, Family Life, International Justice Mission, Invisible Children, Women's Rugby, Fiber Arts Club/"Knit Wits," Student Leadership Council, Students for Life, Life423, Crossover, Lee Buddies, Big Pal Little Pal, SAAMS, Upsilon Xi, Delta Zeta Tau, Tau Kappa Omega, Omega Alpha Phi, Alpha Gamma Chi, Sigma Nu Sigma, Pi Kappa Pi, Epsilon Lambda Phi, Theta Delta Kappa, Zeta Chi Lambda, Sigma Alpha Omega


Academic Council, Anthropology Club, Art Club (CIVA), AACC (American Assoc. of Christian Counselors), Deutscher Klub (German Club), Financial Management Association International, Kairos Scholars Honors Program,[13] Kappa Lambda Iota (Lee University Fellowship of Historians), Math Club, Model UN, Music Educators' National Conference, Philosophy Club, Phi Beta Lambda (Business Club), Public Relations Student Society of America, Society for Law and Justice, Sociology Club, Students National Assoc. of Teachers of Singing, Tri-Beta (Biology HS)

Honorary and service clubs[edit]

Alpha Chi, Alpha Kappa Delta, Alpha Phi Delta, Alpha Psi Omega, Aria De Capo, Delta Mu Delta, Iota Tau Zeta, Kappa Delta Pi, Kappa Lambda Iota, Lambda Pi Eta, Phi Alpha Theta, Phi Delta Psi, Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Alpha Sigma, Pi Delta Gamma, Phi Delta Phi, Pi Kappa Lambda, Pi Sigma Alpha, Psi Chi, Sigma Alpha Iota, Sigma Delta Pi, Sigma Tau Delta, Theta Delta Kappa


Lee University is located in the town of Cleveland, Tennessee, which lies between Chattanooga and Knoxville. Cleveland is located near the Ocoee River, the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics whitewater events, the Smoky Mountains, and the popular Gatlinburg area.

This location had long been the site of church-affiliated schools. Centenary College was founded in 1884 to honor the "centenary" of American Methodism. Located on part of the present campus, that school closed in 1929, and in 1933 its property was sold to Bob Jones College, an interdenominational college which had previously been in Florida. When that school moved to South Carolina in 1947, the property was once again sold, and the Church of God became its new owner with Lee College and now, Lee University occupying the original and much expanded area.

The 120-acre (0.49 km2) campus consists of academic buildings, residence halls, athletic and recreational facilities, dining services, administrative offices, parks and green spaces, a pedestrian mall, Campus Safety facilities, music performance spaces, and other facilities. Many building projects have been undertaken in recent years, including a new humanities center (2004), a new religion building (2008), a new state of the art science building (2009), a new chapel (2011), a new communications building (2014), a new School of Nursing building (2016), and a new School of Business (2017). The campus also features articulate landscaping and many benches and areas for students. The sidewalks are handicap accessible.

Campus buildings[edit]

Note: Dates of construction given when known

Residence halls[edit]

  • Atkins-Ellis Hall (1994) – female residence hall built after Ellis Hall fire
  • B.L. Hicks Hall (1996) – male apartment residence hall
  • Bowdle-O'Bannon Hall (2002) – male residence hall connected by an atrium
  • Brinsfield Row East (2003) – female apartments named after former president J. Stewart Brinsfield; expanded in 2004 and 2008
  • Brinsfield Row West (2003) – male apartments named after former president J. Stewart Brinsfield; expanded in 2004 and 2008
  • Carroll Court (1973) – married apartment residence hall named after former president R. Leonard Carroll
  • Cross Hall (1969) – female residence hall named after former president James A. Cross
  • Keeble Hall (1999) – female apartment residence hall
  • Livingston East (2011) – female townhouse residence hall
  • Livingston Hall (1995) – female apartment residence hall
  • Medlin Hall (1930s) – male residence hall (formerly Walker Hall and Memorial Hall) where Billy Graham lived during his time as a student when Bob Jones University owned the campus.[14]
  • New Hughes Hall (2011) – female residence hall named in memory of former President Ray H. Hughes
  • Nora Chambers Hall (1930s) – female residence hall connected to Simmons and Tharp Halls; renovated in 1994
  • Sharp-Davis Hall (1990) – female residence hall
  • Simmons Hall (1930s) – female residence hall connected to Nora Chambers Hall; renovated in 1981
  • Storms Hall (2000) – female apartment residence hall
  • Tharp Hall (1930s) – female residence hall connected to Nora Chambers; renovated in 1981

Other buildings[edit]

  • Admissions House – located in a historic house on Ocoee Street
  • Centenary Building – oldest building on campus, formerly women's dormitory East Wing Hall and Student Center, home to administrative offices in conjunction with the Higginbotham Administration Building
  • Chapel (2011) – worship, performance, and special event space
  • Forum (2017) – located on Church Street, tallest building on campus, gathering place for students
  • Pangle Hall – located on Church Street, formerly the First Baptist Church of Cleveland property before renovation in 2014
  • Pressley Maintenance Building (1987) – Physical Plant headquarters
  • School of Nursing (2016) - located on Parker Street
  • The Forum (2017) - located on Church Street
  • School of Business (2018) – located on Central Avenue
  • Watkins Building – houses Center for Calling and Career and Counseling Center

Former buildings[edit]

  • Beach Science Building (1965) – demolished in 2009 to make way for new science building
  • Ellis Hall (1941) – destroyed by arson in November 1993
  • Hughes Hall (1968) – male residence hall named after former president Ray H. Hughes, demolished in 2010 to make way for the Math & Science Complex
  • Old Main – oldest building on campus before demolition in 1962

Social Activities[edit]

Community covenant[edit]

Lee University, like many faith-based colleges and universities, encourages a Christian philosophy of student behavior based on Biblical teachings. All students are asked to sign a "Community Covenant" which lists several restrictions on behaviors and social interaction according to the school's institutional and religious policy. Most notable are a substance policy barring alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs; and its stance on homosexuality, which is banned in all forms. Men's and women's dormitories are kept separate, and premarital sexual intercourse is prohibited regardless of sexual preference. Immodesty and "occult practices" are also forbidden.[15]

Greek organizations[edit]

Like many colleges and universities in the U.S., Lee University students have the opportunity to participate in Greek organizations for the purpose of serving the community, bettering the campus and building social and professional relationships. Many of the Greek organizations on Lee University's campus are neither national nor recognized as fraternities or sororities, and are instead colloquially referred to as "Greek clubs."[16] There are currently only two nationally affiliated social fraternities at Lee University, Phi Mu Alpha and Kappa Upsilon Chi. Sigma Alpha Omega is currently the only nationally affiliated sorority on campus.

Campus Events[edit]

  • Dorm Wars[17] is a Res Life event that takes place annually in the Walker Arena. This event pits each dorm against the other in a series of mental and physical events. Each dorm is supporting their own charity and the winning residence halls receive a donation to the charity that they represent. The night begins with introduction dances and progresses into three activities. The first activity is a mystery relay race, the second is a shopping cart race, and the final event is the obstacle course.
  • Great Strides[18] is an annual race that brings together students and community members to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). Great Strides is a national fundraiser and the largest fundraiser for the CFF.
  • Culture Fest is another annual event at Lee. This event is a celebration of culture, global connection, and student community. Cultures are celebrated with music and discussion. Different unions and councils are represented such as the Black Student Union, Asian Council, LUUSA, ISF, and the BCC.[19]
  • Ask Your President Chapel normally occurs in the second semester where the University's president takes the stage and answers questions that the students submit weeks prior. President Paul Conn states that “Lee is a place where we listen to students.”[20] During these chapels, Conn tends to make many changes that the students request.
  • Worthy Now[21] is an event started by student leaders at Lee that focuses on women but also encourages men to participate. They strive to tell women they are not worthy when they achieve, but rather they are worthy now, hence the name. The name is derived from an idea by Brené Brown.

"Tunnels of Oppression"[edit]

In 2017, Lee University sponsored its annual "Tunnels of Oppression" event, whereby students were subjected to simulated acts of misogyny and racism so they could "recognize their own privilege." Students were led on an interactive tour which "exposes them to a different type of oppression in each room", including sexual, racial, societal and mental oppression.[22]


Lee University's student newspaper, the Lee Clarion, is published during the academic school year.
  • The Vindagua is Lee University's award-winning yearbook-turned-magazine. In 2017, former editor Cariann Bradley transitioned the publication from yearbook to lifestyle magazine after 75 years. The goal of the publication is to further connect with the student body and Cleveland community. President Paul Conn is a notable former editor.
  • The Torch is the university's quarterly magazine highlighting current events at Lee, as well as faculty members, students and alumni.
  • The Lee Clarion is the campus newspaper.[23]
  • The Lee Review is the campus literary journal.
  • The Burgundy and Blue is an online news publication for alumni.

Notable alumni[edit]


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  2. ^ "About Lee". Lee University. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  3. ^ "Lee University". U.S. News and World Report. n.d. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Lee University Quick Facts". Lee University. Lee University. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  5. ^ "About". Lee University. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  6. ^ "Quick Facts". Lee University. Archived from the original on 2011-08-24. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Lee University Quick Facts". Leeuniversity.edu. Retrieved 2015-04-13.
  8. ^ "Lee University- Publications". Leeuniversity.edu. Archived from the original on 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2013-02-13.
  9. ^ "Lee University". www.leeuniversity.edu. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2009-10-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "About Lee University". www.leeuniversity.edu. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Undergraduate Tuition & Fees". Retrieved 2015-04-13.
  13. ^ "Kairos Scholars Honors Program - Lee University - Acalog ACMS™". catalog.leeuniversity.edu. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Billy Graham's life and ministry remembered". The Cleveland Daily Banner. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  15. ^ "Community Covenant" (PDF). Archived from the original (pdf) on 2006-09-14. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  16. ^ "Lee University – Cleveland, TN – Temporary Outage". Students.leeuniversity.edu. Archived from the original on 2008-09-27. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  17. ^ "Lee University". www.leeuniversity.edu. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  18. ^ "DatatelPortalNews - Melton to Serve as Great Strides' Community..." portico.leeuniversity.edu. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  19. ^ LeeUDiversity (2019-09-10). "Save the date. Culture fest is on Sept. 27th 2019 #LeeUDiversity #CultureFestpic.twitter.com/eFNaVf4J7J". @leeudiversity. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  20. ^ "RECAP: Spring 2019 Ask the President Chapel". Lee Clarion. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  21. ^ "Worthy Now Conference: An evening to remember". Lee Clarion. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  22. ^ Athey, Amber (February 3, 2017). "Tunnels of Oppression Expose 'Privileged' Students to 'Dehumanization'". Campus Reform.
  23. ^ "Lee Clarion". LeeClarion.com. Retrieved 2015-04-14.
  24. ^ "Clark Beckham". Lee University. Retrieved 2015-04-14.
  25. ^ "Tennessee General Assembly Main Page". Legislature.state.tn.us. Archived from the original on 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  26. ^ "Lee Alumnus Nathan Chapman Stands Out In The Country Music Business – 12/09/2009". Chattanoogan.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-02. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  27. ^ http://www.house.ga.gov/Documents/Biographies/coomerChristian.pdf
  28. ^ "Titleholders". Misstennessee.org. 2011-06-18. Archived from the original on 2012-09-25. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  29. ^ "Biography". 24 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  30. ^ [1] Archived March 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Lee University's Micah Massey wins Grammy in tie for best contemporary Christian music song". 2013-02-11.
  32. ^ "Brooke Simpson - NBC.com". NBC. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  33. ^ Hetter, Katia (December 16, 2015). "Fan favorite Jordan Smith wins 'The Voice'". CNN. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  34. ^ "American Idol Season Six Top 24 Contestant Phil Stacey". Americanidol.com. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  35. ^ "Lee University". www.leeuniversity.edu. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  36. ^ "Zawadzki First Flame to Reach the Majors". 2010-04-30. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-05-03.

External links[edit]

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