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History of Tennessee Wesleyan

Founded in 1857 as Athens Female College, Tennessee Wesleyan has evolved into a four-year liberal arts institution, offering the first baccalaureate degrees on its centennial anniversary. Throughout its history, the University has enjoyed a relationship with the Methodist Church, which has prompted several growths for the university over the years. More than 150 years after its founding, Tennessee Wesleyan has never lost its identity as an important center of learning in Southeast Tennessee. In 2016, the College made the transition to a University to better reflect the diverse academic offerings for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

With more than 30 undergraduate majors and graduate programs, TWU provides a wide range of studies to help each student achieve his or her individual dream. Faculty, staff and students combine to form a community of learning, dedicated to the advancement of the university and all of our students. Through strong academic programs, service-learning opportunities, student organizations and athletics, TWU helps students become enlightened servant leaders who believe in serving others, pursuing knowledge and leading by example.

TWU’s main campus in Athens provides a park-like setting, with easy access to downtown Athens and the surrounding area, while the satellite locations in Knoxville and Cleveland provide convenience to students in our nursing program and Management Excellence degree completion program. At all three instructional sites, TWU provides individualized attention and support for every student, helping each one to be more.

  • Athens Female College (1857-1866)
  • East Tennessee Wesleyan College (1866-1867)
  • East Tennessee Wesleyan University (1867-1886)
  • Grant Memorial University (1886-1889)
  • S. Grant Memorial University (1889-1906)
  • Athens School of the University of Chattanooga (1906-1925)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan Junior College (1925-1954)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan College (1954-2016)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan University (2016 - present)

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