CLEVELAND —Truett-McConnell College officially became Truett McConnell University on commencement day, May 14.
“On July 23, 1946, Truett-McConnell College was chartered,” said TMU President Emir Caner. “The hope and dream was to simply raise up a generation of ministers who will pastor churches and a generation of students who will love Christ. I’m pleased to say that 70 years later, that vision is still intact.”
The name change, which also coincides with the school’s 70th anniversary and their first master’s degree graduate, comes after approval from the TMU Board of Trustees last October.
Board of Trustees Chairman Phillip Jones said, “In Joshua 4:24, the Bible states 'all peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty.' Like the children of Israel who set up memorial stones to remember God’s mighty hand allowing them to cross the Jordan River on dry land, today we mark this day as the day we become a university. When future generations ask us about this day, we can say the Lord was mighty by allowing us to see more students saved, called, equipped and sent.”
"God continues to raise up a school for His glory in the North Georgia mountains,” said Board of Visitors member Ken Hall. “Congratulations Truett McConnell for reaching university status. What a great day for Georgia Baptist and for future students."
The 2016 graduating class was the first to receive their diplomas from Truett McConnell University, including the first master’s graduate, Ben Garrison.
Scotty Wilbanks, a member of the Christian band Third Day and two-time nominated, multiple-Dove-Award-winning record producer, delivered the commencement address to the 134 graduates.
“This life is not about me or you,” Wilbanks said. “It’s about focusing on the journey.”
The university’s strategic plan includes additional undergraduate programs as well as new graduate programs, adding to the current Master of Arts in Theology. The additional graduate degree programs already approved by faculty include: Master of Science in Biology, Master in Business Administration, Master of Arts in Counseling, Master of Arts in Missions, and Master of Arts in Education, all of which need approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC ).
These changes demonstrate the university’s continued growth and a glimpse of what is in store for Truett McConnell. The faculty, staff, and students are optimistic and excited about the future of Truett McConnell University.
“We currently sit on the eve of raising the bar in Christian and Biblical education here in the United States and worldwide,” stated Robert Bowen, Science and Mathematics Division chair and associate professor of Biology. “We are primed to become a premier academic institution in teaching, scholarship, and service to our profession and communities.
Bowen added, “I am excited about the platform being presented to our institution to storm the academic and professional worlds with Christ’s ultimate love bound to a steadfast dedication to our craft as scientists, business people, pastors, missionaries, theologians, teachers, nurses, musicians, writers, historians, law enforcement, plus so many other areas of training and influence.”
For many of the professors, this change means progress for Truett McConnell.
Stephen Tyndall, TMU assistant professor of Music and Fine Arts, described the change as “Not only growth in academia, but also with regards to our Lord's work, preparing young men and women to witness and proclaim in their chosen profession.”
Maël Disseau, associate professor of Christian Studies, shared his thoughts by adding, “Since changing to a university status is the natural progression of a growing academic institution, this new phase in our history means that Truett McConnell is growing in size, talent, variety, and opportunities.”
“All of these,” Disseau said, “will help us to fulfill the Anabaptist vision set out by our president, to train ministers, regardless of their chosen vocation.”
Fletcher Humphrey, a junior Christian Studies major looks forward to finishing his last year at Truett McConnell University. “Finally, the school will have a name that parallels the greatness they are already achieving in creating leaders and encouraging a generation to seek after God,” Humphrey exclaimed.
As the first official TMU graduates turned their tassels over, the audience erupted in applause. The gymnasium was full of excitement; fully aware this service was an immense day in Truett McConnell history.
Jordan West is proud to be a member of the university’s first graduating class.
“I am excited for the opportunities the new university status will bring to TMU and for the 2016 graduates as we enter into our careers and mission fields,” West shared.
Gary Jarnagin, whose daughter graduated from TMU with a bachelor’s degree in English, echoed the enthusiasm by saying, “From the president to all those who work at TMU, God's hand and favor is evident. My daughter not only received the best education possible, but also learned to love the Lord, love His word, love the church, and love the lost. You can't expect anything more from a university. Thank you Truett McConnell.”
“While we continue to grow,” Caner added. “The mission of Truett McConnell University will remain the same: to equip students to fulfill the Great Commission by fostering a Christian worldview through a biblically-centered education.”
Jenny Gregory is the content manager at TMU.
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