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King University
Former names
King College (1867–2013)
Ecclesiae et Litteris (Latin)
Motto in English
For the Church and For Learning
TypePrivate university
Established1867; 157 years ago (1867)
Religious affiliation
Academic affiliations
Endowment$37 million (2009)[4]
PresidentAlexander W. Whitaker IV[5]
Students1,357 (Fall 2022)[6]
Location, ,
United States

36°35′13″N 82°09′32″W / 36.587°N 82.159°W / 36.587; -82.159
Campus135 wooded acres (0.55 km2 (0.21 sq mi))
Blue & Red
NicknameThe Tornado
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IICarolinas
MascotTwister the Lion

King University is a private Presbyterian-affiliated university in Bristol, Tennessee. Founded in 1867, King is independently governed with covenant affiliations to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).


In April 1866, the Holston Presbytery assembled at the old Pleasant Grove Church in Bristol, Tenn., to establish a Christian college. The college was built on 25 acres (100,000 m2) of land in Bristol that had been donated by Reverend James King, in whose honor it is named.[7] The first classes were offered in August 1867.[8]

When the college outgrew its small campus, King's grandson Isaac Anderson donated land on a hillside east of Bristol and in 1917, the college moved to its present location.[8]

In January 2013, King College announced that it would change its name to King University.[9] The name change reflects the master's-level, comprehensive benchmark that King has reached in recent years. Becoming a university was the natural unfolding of King's strategic plan, unveiled in 1998, to create an even broader mix of programs based on a university model. On June 1, 2013, King College officially became King University.

King University Campus

In December 2013, King University was granted a Level V designation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), after a two-year application and review process. As a result, King University began its first doctoral program, a Doctorate of Nursing Practice, in the Fall 2014.[10]


View of the King University campus.

The King University campus is located on 135 acres (55 ha) approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 km) from downtown Bristol, Tennessee. All main buildings on campus are brick and of Georgian-style architecture.[8] King University also has three additional Tennessee campuses located in Kingsport and Knoxville. There are 10 additional instructional locations across Southwest Virginia and Tennessee.[11]

Accreditation and memberships

King University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC)[12]

King is a member of numerous associations, including the Appalachian College Association (ACA),[13] the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA)[14] and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).[15]


King University offers more than 80 undergraduate majors, minors and pre-professional programs. Several professional studies programs are offered for working professionals and most programs are available in face-to-face and online formats. King also offers several graduate programs: Master of Social Work (MSW),[16] Master of Business Administration (MBA),[17] Master of Education (MEd),[18] Master of Science in Nursing (MSN),[19] and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).[20]


King University is organized into six schools:



The Core Curriculum of King University underwent its last major revision by the faculty during Spring 2009. The Core is composed of a Common Experience, four semester hours of courses that all tradition undergraduates must take at the college, and General Education, thirty-eight hours of courses that span the traditional liberal arts.[23]

Experience DC

As part of the university's First Year Experience Program, each year the entire freshman class travels to Washington, D.C. for an experiential learning trip known as Experience DC. During the trip, students visit offices of legislators, national museums, international organizations, art galleries and various public venues. Participants are challenged to explore their views on the arts, religion, varying cultures and issues facing humankind. The trip also helps students examine career options.[24]

Institutes of King University

Institute of Security and Intelligence Studies. The King Institute for Security and Intelligence Studies (KISIS) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the scholarly study and advancement of security and intelligence issues.[25]

Institute for Regional and Economic Studies. The King Institute for Regional Economic Studies (KIRES) was established in 2012 to expand the scope of the King University Regional Economic Studies (KCRES) team. A small KCRES team was formed in 2010 within King's School of Business to provide analysis of economic problems and opportunities confronting the region served by King University.[26]

Institute for Faith & Culture. The King Institute aims to cultivate a conversation that is both artful and substantial on issues of Christian faith and culture, creating spaces for students and community members to find friendship and shared purpose.[27]

Student life

Student government

The Student Government Association (SGA) is the formal representative entity for the student body, consisting of elected executive officers (President and Vice President) and a Senate representing each class (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior). The SGA serves as the voice of the students to the board of trustees, administration, faculty, and staff. The SGA also charters, funds, and oversees other student organizations.[28]

Student organizations

Academic organizations include: STEA-KE (Education), History & Political Science Society, Psy Chi Honor Society, Forensic Science Club, Marketing Club, Finance Club, ENACTUS (formerly SIFE), and a collegiate chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery.[29]

Performing arts-related organizations include: Collegium Musicum (Chamber Choir), Symphonic Choir, Men's Ensemble (All the King's Men), Women's Ensemble (Queen's of King), Jazz/Gospel Choir, Symphonic Band, 250 Jazz (Combo Jazz Ensemble - plays at basketball games occasionally), Chapel Band, and The King University Players (K.U.P.)[30]

General interest organizations include Alpha Phi Omega, the Newman Club, a collegiate chapter of the International Justice Mission, the International Student Organization, College Republicans, College Democrats, TISL, and a computer/video gaming club.[30]

Student publications

Students have the opportunity to work in journalism and publishing. The Kayseean is the student newspaper. The Kayseean transitioned to an online format in 2019.[31] The school yearbook is The Tornado.

Student activities

The Student Life Activities Committee at King (SLACK) is a student group responsible for organizing and executing student activities under the direction of the Director of Student Life. Events in the past have included: concerts, dances, movies, outdoor adventures (canoeing, caving, ropes courses), overnight trips, International Fair, Oktoberfest, a late night exam breakfast, an end-of-the-year luau, Safe Spring Break promotion, and bingo nights.[32]

A program of intramural sports, called SLACK Sports, is offered to students. Typical sports include: indoor soccer, flag football, volleyball, dodgeball, bowling, and ultimate frisbee. In addition, intramural video game tournaments, Texas Hold'em poker tournaments, chess tournaments, and board game nights are also held throughout the year.

Residence halls

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King's campus offers separate men's and women's residence halls. High-speed internet and cable television are available in the residence halls.


Main article: King Tornado

The King athletic teams are called the Tornado. The university is a member of the NCAA Division II ranks, primarily competing in the Conference Carolinas (CC) since the 2011–12 academic year.[34][35] They were also a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), primarily competing as an independent in the Mid-East Region of the Division I level. The Tornado previously competed as an NCAA D-II Independent from 2009 to 10 to 2010–11; and in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 2001 to 02 to 2008–09.

King competes in 25 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball and wrestling; while women's sports include acrobatics & tumbling, basketball, cross-country, golf, softball, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, triathlon, volleyball and wrestling; and co-ed sports include bass fishing, cheerleading, cycling, dance and Esports.[36]

University nickname

The university nickname, the Tornado, was adopted in 1922 following a 206–0 football win over North Carolina rival Lenoir College (now Lenoir–Rhyne University).[37] The local newspaper covering the event wrote the headline "King College's Victory Was 'Tornado' Of Week's Games" and began referring to the football team as the "Tornado".[38] This is a record score which stands in the annals of collegiate football as one of the highest ever won on the gridiron.[39]

University mascot

Twister, a lion, was unveiled as the university's new mascot on September 2, 2011. Twister is a fearless lion that represents the determination and courage reflected in King's adventure as an NCAA Division II institution. Equipped with his King colors of navy blue and scarlet red, Twister dons the number 11 on his back while rallying those in Tornado Athletics and the King University community.[40]

Spiritual life

Students have many opportunities to explore Christian beliefs and spiritual traditions. Opportunities abound with chapel, the King Institute for Faith and Culture, Christian ministry groups, and service projects. Each year, student teams also travel nationally and internationally for a range of mission and study abroad trips.

All traditional King students are required to obtain fourteen chapel, convocation, or community service credit hours per semester.


Chapel is held every Wednesday at 9:15 a.m. and led by the Chaplain.[41]

The King University Institute for Faith and Culture

Inaugurated in 2008 and dedicated to the work and example of Frederick Buechner, the Buechner Institute at King University explored the relationship between faith and culture. In 2015, after the death of Dr. Dale Brown, founding director, and at the request of the Buechner Literary Assets, LLC, the Buechner Institute became the King Institute for Faith and Culture.[42] The King Institute for Faith and Culture is a continuation of conversations between faith, art, and culture started by the Buechner Institute.

The King Institute for Faith and Culture sponsors on-campus convocations (generally on Mondays at 9:15 a.m.) as well as evening lectures either on campus or in community venues, that feature speakers from a variety of backgrounds to examine the ways in which faith informs art and public life and cultivate conversation about what faith has to do with books, politics, social discourse, music, visual arts, and more.[27]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "List of CCCU Institutions". 26 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Members of CIC".
  3. ^
  4. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-12-14. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  5. ^ "Office of the President".
  6. ^ "College Navigator - King University".
  7. ^ Merriam, Lucius Salisbury (1893). Higher Education in Tennessee. U.S. Government Printing Office.
  8. ^ a b c "King College: History of King College". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  9. ^ COURIER, ROGER BROWN | BRISTOL HERALD (23 January 2013). "King College to become King University". web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "King University: DNP". Archived from the original on 2015-02-02. Retrieved 2015-02-02.
  11. ^ "King University: Education Centers". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  12. ^ "Commission on Colleges".
  13. ^ "Members". 2 August 2018.
  14. ^ "TICUA".
  15. ^ "Council for Christian Colleges & Universities". CCCU. May 9, 2019.
  16. ^ "Master of Social Work (MSW)".
  17. ^ "MBA Program - Part-Time and Full-Time Options".
  18. ^ "Master of Education Programs in TN | M.Ed Degrees".
  19. ^ "Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)".
  20. ^ "Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree Program in TN".
  21. ^ "Library: About the Library". Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  22. ^ a b "Library: Knoxville Library". 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  23. ^ "King College: Core Curriculum". Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  24. ^ "Discover King: Experience D.C". Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  25. ^ The King Institute for Security and Intelligence Studies (KISIS) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the scholarly study and advancement of security and intelligence issues.
  26. ^ "King's Institute for Regional and Economic Studies (KIRES)".
  27. ^ a b "King Institute for Faith and Culture".
  28. ^ "Student Government Association (SGA)".
  29. ^ "Clubs and Organizations".
  30. ^ a b "Students in Service".
  31. ^ "The Kayseean – The Voice of the Students at King University for over 80 years".
  32. ^ "Student Life Activities Committees at King (SLACK)".
  33. ^ a b c d e f "Residential Areas".
  34. ^ "King University - Official Athletics Website".
  35. ^ "News". King University.
  36. ^ "2021-22 Conference Carolinas Members".
  37. ^ Bristol Herald Courier: Sunday, October 22, 1922
  38. ^ Bristol Herald Courier: Monday, October 23, 1922
  39. ^ "Why Tornado?". King University.
  40. ^ "King University News: Single News". Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  41. ^ "Discover King: Chapel & Convocation". King University. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  42. ^ "King's Buechner Institute changes name". Retrieved 2016-06-22.
  43. ^ "Patricia Cornwell – novelist, forensics expert, heart of gold".
  44. ^ "Salem Press". Salem Press. Archived from the original on 2010-12-21. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  45. ^ "Cylk Cozart - Biography". IMDb. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  46. ^ "Update: 13th SC(E) commander promoted to brigadier general". DVIDS. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  47. ^ "Meet the N.A.I.A.'s - Mike Helton - NAIA OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE". Retrieved 2011-03-16.[permanent dead link]
  48. ^ "LAIRD, William Ramsey, III - Biographical Information". Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  49. ^ "Representatives - TN General Assembly". 1984-02-21. Archived from the original on 2019-04-15. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  50. ^ Angled Vector. "Katherine Paterson - About the Author". Archived from the original on 2015-05-19. Retrieved 2011-03-16.