Jarvis Christian University
Former names
  • Jarvis Christian Institute[1] (1912–1929)
  • Jarvis Christian College[2] (1929–2022)
TypePrivate historically black college
Established1912; 112 years ago (1912)
Religious affiliation
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
PresidentGlenell M. Lee-Pruitt
Location, ,
United States

32°35′21″N 95°10′47″W / 32.589192°N 95.179823°W / 32.589192; -95.179823
Campus1,000 acres
ColorsBlue & Gold
Sporting affiliations
J. N. Ervin Religion and Culture Center at Jarvis Christian University; James Nelson Ervin was the first JCU president, with service from 1914 to 1938. The culture center was built after his tenure as president.

Jarvis Christian University (JCU) is a private historically black Christian college in Wood County, Texas. It was founded in 1912.[3] It had a total undergraduate enrollment of 867 in the fall of 2019.[4]


Although formal instructional programs at Jarvis began on January 13, 1913, with an enrollment of 12 students, all in the elementary grades, the school began as early as 1904, when the Negro Disciples of Christ of Texas began to plan for a school for Black youth. A white couple whose families had owned slaves--Major James Jarvis and his wife Ida Van Zandt Jarvis--donated land upon which the school could be built; the Jarvis family deeded 456 acres (185 ha) to the Christian Women's Board of Missions on the condition it be maintained as a school for Blacks.[1][5] Jarvis opened its doors as Jarvis Christian Institute, modeled after the Southern Christian Institute located west of Jackson in Edwards, Mississippi.[6]

Jarvis is the only historically black college which remains of the twelve founded by the Disciples of Christ Church.[7]

Jarvis' first students were educated in the remains of an old logging camp and later in a cabin which became the school's first multi-purpose building.[8]


Thomas Buchanan Frost came to the school as superintendent in 1912. Mr. Charles Albert Berry joined him as the principal. In 1914, James Nelson Ervin became the first president of Jarvis and served in that capacity until 1938. During the first year of Ervin's tenure, high school classes were added to the curriculum. It became one of the few places at the time at which blacks in East Texas could complete a high school education. Some college work was offered as early as 1916.[9]

The executive committee of the National Women's Board voted in May 1915, to appropriate US$1,000 (equivalent to $28,928 in 2022) for a sawmill that was purchased and installed on campus. The sawmill was operated from the 1920s through the 1940s by male students in the summer. They cut wood for structures on campus and to fire furnaces and stoves used during winter months around campus. Most of the buildings on the Jarvis Campus built during the 1920s-1940s were made with wood from this mill. Most of those buildings burned.[8]


In 1927, junior college courses were integrated into the curriculum. In 1928, the school incorporated as a college.[6]


Senior College course offerings were introduced at Jarvis in 1937. The Emma B. Smith Building, used to house administration offices, was built in 1936 and is the only campus structure surviving from the Ervin presidency.[6]

In 1938, Peter Clarence Washington began his tenure as the second president of Jarvis Christian College. High school work was eliminated from the curriculum the same year.

In 1939, the state of Texas granted a formal charter to Jarvis Christian College, later renamed Jarvis Christian University in 2022.[6]


John B. Eubanks became Executive Vice President of Jarvis in 1949 and is credited with introducing the general education program and helping the school earn recognition from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. This recognition came in 1950.[6]


Eubanks became the fourth President of Jarvis Christian College in 1951. In 1953, Cleo Walter Blackburn became college president.[6]


Blackburn ensured an affiliation between Jarvis and Texas Christian University in 1964 that was renewed twice and terminated in 1976. In 1964, Agro-Industrial offerings were eliminated from the curriculum. The Olin Library and Communication Center was opened to students in 1965. In 1966, Perpener became the fifth president of Jarvis and the first alumni appointed to the office. That same year, Jarvis was granted membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Jarvis is affiliated with the Texas Association of Developing Colleges, a six-college consortium of historically Black colleges the next year. In 1969, the Charles A. Meyer Science and Mathematics Center opened.[6]


Four additional residence halls were opened on campus in the 1970s.[6]


In May 2017, it was announced that Jarvis Christian College will open a satellite campus in Dallas at the Redbird Mall beginning August 2017. Courses available are in criminal justice, business management, religion, data analytics, and cybersecurity.[10]


During the 2022-2023 academic year, Jarvis Christian College was renamed Jarvis Christian University with the unveiling of the new signage and logos on May 6, 2022, the day before the first graduating class of Jarvis Christian University received the first-ever diplomas with the school's new name. Jarvis was approved to begin offering graduate degrees, which raised it from a "college" to a "university" status. The Jarvis Board of Trustees approved the name change, the rebranding as JCU began. The first JCU graduate programs are an MBA and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice, both programs are set to begin classes online in January 2023.[2]


The Jarvis Christian athletic teams are called the Bulldogs. The institution is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) since the 1998–99 academic year.

Jarvis Christian competes in 15 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, Wrestling and track & field (outdoor); while women's sports include basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track & field (outdoor) and volleyball. The following sports will be added, effective in the 2022–23 school year: men's & women's wrestling, and co-ed competitive cheerleading called the "J" Squad.

Jarvis Christian had a college football team which competed from the 1910s until being discontinued in 1964.[11] Notable coaches of the team included Ace Mumford (1924–1926) and Louis Crews (1957–1959).


Jarvis Christian has appeared in the NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament three times: 2003, 2008, and 2009. Jarvis women's track & field team won the RRAC conference championship for track & field in 2021.

East Texas Natural History Collection

Jarvis houses a regional collection of biological specimens in its 10,000 square foot Frost Hall. The collections are concentrated on the herbarium and entomology collections, but also houses minor holdings in other natural history areas of study and historical materials that are related to natural history or land use history.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ a b Gilbreath, David W. (9 November 2020) [1952]. "Jarvis, James Jones (1831–1914)". Handbook of Texas. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on 2 September 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2021. He helped establish Jarvis Institute, which later became Jarvis Christian College, by donating a grant of land he owned in Wood County.
  2. ^ a b Bonds, Sariah (6 May 2022). "Jarvis Christian College announces name change, new graduate programs". KLTV. Hawkins, Texas. Archived from the original on 6 May 2022. Retrieved 13 May 2022. The school changed its name to Jarvis Christian University. The school is now considered an accredited university because it will start offering graduate programs in January.
  3. ^ "NAIA Championship History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 23, 2011.
  4. ^ "Jarvis Christian College - US News Best Colleges". U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Ranking. 2022. Archived from the original on 4 January 2022.
  5. ^ "JCC Facts | Jarvis Christian College". Jarvis Christian College. Retrieved 26 November 2016. In turn, Mrs. Jarvis worked to persuade her husband, Major James Jones Jarvis, to donate land upon which a school could be built. In 1910, Major and Mrs. Jarvis deeded 456 acres of land near Hawkins, Texas, to the Christian Woman's Board of Missions on the condition that it "keep up and maintain a school for the elevation and education of the Negro race… in which school there shall be efficient religious and industrial training." Inherent in the spirit of the donation was the idea that the land would be used to educate "head, heart, and hand" and to produce "useful citizens and earnest Christians."
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Jarvis Christian College Student Handbook 2014-2015" (PDF). Jarvis Christian University. Jarvis Christian University. September 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-05. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  7. ^ Jenkins, Rachel (16 September 2020) [1976]. "Jarvis Christian College". Handbook of Texas. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on 2 September 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2021. It was originally known as Jarvis Christian Institute, and ever since the school's founding in 1912 it has been affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
  8. ^ a b "E-mail correspondence with Jeff Joeckle, Archivist, National Register of Historic Places". National Park Service. 30 November 2016. Archived from the original on 31 August 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  9. ^ "Jarvis Christian College Student Handbook, 2014-15" (PDF). Jarvis Christian College. Jarvis Christian College. September 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-05. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  10. ^ Cook, Rod (5 May 2017). "Jarvis Christian College to Open a Satellite Campus in Dallas". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. eISSN 2326-6023. ISSN 1077-3711. Archived from the original on 5 May 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2021. Lester C. Newman, president of Jarvis Christian College, stated that "it is our goal to expand educational opportunities for adult learners interested in completing their college degree. I am honored that Jarvis Christian College has become part of the Dallas community."
  11. ^ "1 Less College Team in Texas". Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Associated Press. July 12, 1964. p. 50 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  12. ^ Thurber, Jon (23 January 2009). "David 'Fathead' Newman dies at 75; jazz saxophonist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 September 2021. He went off to Jarvis Christian College on a music and theology scholarship but quit school after three years and began playing professionally, mostly jazz and blues, with a number of musicians, including Buster Smith, Lloyd Glenn, Lowell Fulson and T-Bone Walker.

Further reading