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Tennessee Wesleyan announces name change to Tennessee Wesleyan University


Tennessee Wesleyan College is proud to announce it will become Tennessee Wesleyan University in July 2016. The name change was approved by the institution’s Board of Trustees in November 2015 as a way to reflect Tennessee Wesleyan’s transformation into a more complex institution that includes graduate programs, online offerings and off-site instructional locations.

“The change is driven by our strategic plan, which calls for us to launch new graduate programs as well as additional programs for traditional students and working professionals,” Tennessee Wesleyan President Dr. Harley Knowles said. “As we began to move down that path, we could see we needed to consider changing our name because the term ‘university’ better describes the growing array of degree offerings. We wanted to make sure our name communicated clearly to a wide variety of prospective students that we are eager to serve their educational needs, including master’s, bachelor’s and degree completion options for students with some college credits.”

The transition to university will begin in July, with the May graduating class being the last class to graduate from Tennessee Wesleyan College. The name change has been under consideration for a couple years as the institution has grown and added new programs. Over the last few years, the school has expanded into new areas, including a Master of Science in Curriculum Leadership, an online Master of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies and an online RN to BSN program for working nurses. In the fall, it plans to launch bachelor’s degrees in social work and creative writing, as well as several new evening programs for working adults.

“The model we are headed towards is the small, American university with a broad array of undergraduate offerings and select adult and graduate programs that play to the strengths of our faculty,” Knowles said. “We are trying to serve a broader segment of the educational pipeline than just the traditional 18-24-year-old market.”

The name change is part of a brand redesign campaign, starting this month with a new academic mark and a new website. While the name and brand of Tennessee Wesleyan will change, the institution will remain part of the Appalachian Athletic Conference of the NAIA and will maintain and grow the relationship with the United Methodist Church. Throughout the name change process, the identity and core values of Tennessee Wesleyan will remain the same.

“We are an evolving institution to meet evolving educational needs in the region, and we want to ultimately be a significant provider of educational credentials throughout the Southeast,” Knowles said. “We want to augment and join other institutions in the area to get Tennesseans ready for the ever-changing workforce. We are striving to become a small, student-centered university that prepares students to lead and serve in a changing world. That’s our vision for the future.”

Tennessee Wesleyan College, founded in Athens, Tenn., in 1857, is a comprehensive liberal arts institution affiliated with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. The college’s dedicated faculty and staff believe in providing the resources and support students need to become socially responsible, intellectually skilled and spiritually developed members of our community. For additional information about Tennessee Wesleyan College, visit, like us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at

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