Johnson University
Former names
The School of the Evangelists
Johnson Bible College (1909–2011)
MottoFaith, Prayer, Work
TypePrivate university
Religious affiliation
Christian churches and churches of Christ
Endowment$160,000,000 (2022)
PresidentTommy Smith
ProvostGregory Linton
Academic staff
Students967 (2022-23)
Location, ,
35°56′10.32″N 83°45′1.44″W / 35.9362000°N 83.7504000°W / 35.9362000; -83.7504000
CampusRural 300 acres (1.2 km2)
Navy Blue, Gray and White
Sporting affiliations

Johnson University is a private Christian university with its main campus in Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee, and a second campus in Kissimmee, Florida. It is affiliated with the Christian churches and churches of Christ, a branch of the Restoration Movement.


When Ashley Johnson founded the school in 1893, it was an extension of the Correspondence Bible College. The original name was The School of the Evangelists. The school was renamed Johnson Bible College in 1909 after a petition by the students to have the school named after the founder and first president Ashley Johnson. This name was used for 102 years until the college became Johnson University on July 1, 2011.[1][2]

The idea for a new school was first introduced in a sermon by Ashley S. Johnson at the Bearden Christian Church in 1892 when Johnson proposed the idea of a college level school for the gospels. In May 1893, guests boarded a steamboat in Knoxville to go up to the college for the laying of the cornerstone of the Main Building. The Main Building, with "its five-story square tower that offered a sweeping view of the French Broad, was completed in 1895." The original Main Building served the school until Dec 1, 1904, when a fire broke out from a chimney and completely destroyed the building. Following the fire, a new building was constructed of brick and the dedication was held in 1905.

Ashley Johnson served the school until his death in 1925. Upon his death, his wife Emma Elizabeth Johnson served as the college president until her death in 1927. Alva Ross Brown was chosen as the third president from that year until his 1941 death. Robert M Bell was selected as the 4th president and under his leadership the school was greatly expanded in both academic offerings and facilities. Bell served until his death in 1968. David L. Eubanks assumed the presidency in 1969 and served until retiring in 2007, overseeing the continued expansion of academic offerings and the construction of many new buildings. During Eubanks' administration the school moved off "the hill" that it was founded on into the surrounding fields. Following his retirement, Gary E. Weedman became the president; during his tenure, the college assumed the style of a university. L. Thomas Smith Jr. was inaugurated as the seventh president in September 2018.


Johnson University is unique in its over 125 year history it has only had seven Presidents. Each of those Presidents have had other distinctions that set them apart from other institutions. When Emma Elizabeth Johnson became president in 1925, she was one of the first women to be elected and serve as president of any college in the United States. Alva Ross Brown become president in 1927 and at the age of 22 and was one of the youngest college presidents in US higher education history. Brown was followed in 1941 by professor and trustee Robert M. Bell as the fourth president of the college. The fifth, David L. Eubanks, was the first president to retire from office but remains one of the longest serving college presidents in the US and later served as the chief operating officer of Johnson University Florida. Across from the Old Main Building is located "Shiloh on the Heights", the final resting place of all the past presidents of the University and a Columbarium.

In 1896, during his tenure as the college's president, Ashley Johnson wrote the Condensed Biblical Encyclopedia.[3]

President Term
Ashley S. Johnson (Founder) 1893−1925
Emma E. Johnson (Founder) 1925−1927
Alva Ross Brown 1927−1941
Robert M. Bell, Ph.D. 1941−1968
David L. Eubanks, Ph.D. 1969−2007
Gary E. Weedman, Ph.D. 2007−2018
L. Thomas Smith, Ph.D. 2018−present


Johnson University awards associate, bachelors', master's, and doctoral degrees. It offers over 70 different academic programs organized into seven schools:[4]


Johnson University was first accredited in 1979 by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[5] Programs in the School of Bible & Theology and the School of Congregational Ministry are both accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education.[6] The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs accredits the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the concentrations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling (M.A.) and School Counseling (M.A.). The Teacher Education Program is approved by the Tennessee State Board of Education.


The university has two physical campuses and an online campus. The Tennessee campus is located in the upper Tennessee River valley on the banks of the French Broad River just upstream from where it and the Holston River merge to form the Tennessee. Support for the online campus is also located on the Tennessee Campus.

The Florida Campus, Johnson University Florida, is located at the site of the former Florida Christian College, in Kissimmee, Florida, just 20 miles south of downtown Orlando, Florida.

Historic facilities



The athletic teams of the Johnson–Tennessee (JUTN) campus are called the Royals. The campus is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) since the 2021–22 academic year. They are also a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), primarily competing as an independent in the Mid-East Region of the Division II level.

JUTN competes in ten intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, soccer and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.

Notable alumni

Notable alumni include:


  1. ^ Megan Boehnke, Johnson Bible College announces new name Archived 2012-10-14 at the Wayback Machine, Knoxville News Sentinel, April 29, 2011
  2. ^ "A Mission-Driven Name". Johnson University. April 28, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Condensed Biblical Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
  4. ^ Archived 2018-05-04 at the Wayback Machine - Information about Johnson University academics
  5. ^ Archived 2018-05-09 at the Wayback Machine - Johnson University profile on the SACSCOC page.
  6. ^ Archived 2016-05-05 at the Wayback Machine – Search Johnson University for Accreditation information.
  7. ^ [1] Archived 2018-05-04 at the Wayback Machine Johnson Magazine article updating on the renovations that were occurring on The White House.