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Lee University
Lee University Seal.png
Former name
Church of God Bible Training School (1918–1948)
Lee College (1948–1997)
Motto"Where Christ is King"[1]
TypePrivate university
Religious affiliation
Church of God
EndowmentUS $18.6 million (2015)[3]
PresidentMark L. Walker
Academic staff
236[citation needed]
Students5,370 (fall 2017)[4]

35°09′57″N 84°52′16″W / 35.16583°N 84.87111°W / 35.16583; -84.87111Coordinates: 35°09′57″N 84°52′16″W / 35.16583°N 84.87111°W / 35.16583; -84.87111
CampusSuburban, 130 acres (53 ha)[citation needed]
Colors    Burgundy and navy blue
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIGulf South
Lee University logo.png

Lee University is a private Christian university in Cleveland, Tennessee. It was originally the Church of God Bible Training School, a small Bible institute founded in 1918 with twelve students and one teacher, Nora I. Chambers.[7] The school grew and became Lee College, with a Bible college and junior college on its current site, in 1948. Twenty years later, Lee received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a four-year liberal arts college. In 1997, Lee made the transition from college to comprehensive university.[8] The university is divided into six colleges and schools: the College of Arts & Sciences, the Helen DeVos College of Education, the School of Business, the School of Music, the School of Nursing, and the School of Religion. The university also offers online degrees through the Division of Adult Learning. The university is named for F.J. Lee, its second president.

Lee is well known for its vocal programs and alumni.[citation needed] In 2009, Voices of Lee, the a cappella vocal ensemble directed by Danny Murray, competed on the first season of The Sing-Off, an a capella competition television show on NBC, hosted by Nick Lachey; they finished in third place. In addition, several alumni have found success in popular television singing competitions. Phil Stacey finished in sixth place on season 6 of American Idol. In May 2015, Clark Beckham was runner-up on season 14 of American Idol, and in that same year, alumnus Jordan Smith won season nine of NBC's The Voice. In December 2017, Brooke Simpson placed third on the thirteenth season of The Voice. In January 2013, the Lee University Festival Choir, a special group composed of singers from each of the choral ensembles, performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.


The birthplace of what is now Lee University was a single room in the Church of God Publishing House.
The birthplace of what is now Lee University was a single room in the Church of God Publishing House.

Lee University has seen[when?] its strongest growth since the 1980s, during which time enrollment quadrupled and full university status was attained. Lee's enrollment is 5,370 students, up from 960 in 1986[9] (as of fall 2013). This makes Lee the fifth largest undergraduate enrollment among the 103 Christian colleges who are member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Students currently represent all 50 states and more than 50 countries. On average, Lee also accepts more than 200 transfer students each fall.[citation needed]

Lee University prohibits homosexual relationships for students.[10] The University filed an amicus brief in favor of employment discrimination against LGBT people in the court case Bostock v. Clayton County in 2019.[11]



Academic programs

Lee University has a wide range of academic disciplines and extracurricular activities. Many activities, such as chapel attendance (offered twice per week; students are required to attend 70% of services a month), service requirements (10 hours per semester; 80 total hours to graduate), and the study abroad program, called Global Perspectives, are required as part of degree programs. Exceptions and special cases are approved by the relevant academic dean or the president of the university. All non-local entering freshmen are also required to live on campus, with exceptions made for those who are married, divorced, widowed, parents, over age 21, part-time, or living locally with immediate relatives.[13]

Entering freshmen choose their courses of study with guidance of a faculty adviser. New freshmen and transfer students with under 16 credit hours are required to take a course called Gateway to University Success, a one-semester special topics seminar that stresses methods of inquiry, critical analysis, and writing skills, which helps to transition the student to college life. The course is taught by a full-time faculty member and a student Peer Leader. Included in the general education core of all degrees is an emphasis in biblical and theological study.

Lee offers 50 majors with over 100 individual programs. Although the school is notable for its Christ-centered education, communications, psychology, pre-medicine, business, elementary education, and music are considered among its strongest specialties.


Lee is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate and master's degrees. Professional and specialized accreditation have been achieved in the following areas: the School of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the Helen DeVos College of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the School of Business is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and the athletic training program has national accreditation in the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).


Main article: Lee Flames

The Lee athletic teams are called the Flames. The university is a member of the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Gulf South Conference (GSC) since the 2013–14 academic year. 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 Flames previously competed in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC; formerly known as Georgia–Alabama–Carolina Conference (GACC) until after the 2003–04 school year) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 2004–05 to 2012–13.

Lee competes in 18 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis & track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball. Club sports are offered such as boxing, men's and women's rugby, spikeball and ultimate frisbee.

Student organizations

Lee features more than 100 student organizations, which include:


Backyard Ministries, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, Big Pal/Little Pal, Chattanooga Church, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, God's Own, Invisible Children, Invasion, Liturgical Charismatic Fellowship, Mission Alive, Outreaching Hands, Outstretched Arms, Pioneers for Christ


Asian Council, Bahamian Connection, Black Student Union, Chinese Student Fellowship, Diversity Council, Leetinos, International Student Fellowship, Umoja, Lee University African Student Association, and Racial Justice Advocacy Club.

Greek Clubs

Upsilon Xi, Alpha Gamma Chi, Delta Zeta Tau, Sigma Nu Sigma, Pi Kappa Pi, Epsilon Lambda Phi, Theta Delta Kappa, Omega Alpha Phi, Tau Kappa Omega, Sigma Alpha Omega, Kappa Upsilon Chi

Social service organizations

Acting on Aids, Amnesty International, College Democrats, College Republicans, Family Life, International Justice Mission, Invisible Children, Women's Rugby, Fiber Arts Club/"Knit Wits," Student Leadership Council, Students for Life, Life423, Crossover, Lee Buddies, Big Pal Little Pal, SAAMS, Upsilon Xi, Delta Zeta Tau, Tau Kappa Omega, Omega Alpha Phi, Alpha Gamma Chi, Sigma Nu Sigma, Pi Kappa Pi, Epsilon Lambda Phi, Theta Delta Kappa, Zeta Chi Lambda, Sigma Alpha Omega


Academic Council, Anthropology Club, Art Club (CIVA), AACC (American Assoc. of Christian Counselors), Deutscher Klub (German Club), Financial Management Association International, Kairos Scholars Honors Program,[14] Kappa Lambda Iota (Lee University Fellowship of Historians), Math Club, Model UN, Music Educators' National Conference, Philosophy Club, Phi Beta Lambda (Business Club), Public Relations Student Society of America, Society for Law and Justice, Sociology Club, Students National Assoc. of Teachers of Singing, Tri-Beta (Biology HS)

Honorary and service clubs

Alpha Chi, Alpha Kappa Delta, Alpha Phi Delta, Alpha Psi Omega, Aria De Capo, Delta Mu Delta, Iota Tau Zeta, Kappa Delta Pi, Kappa Lambda Iota, Lambda Pi Eta, Phi Alpha Theta, Phi Delta Psi, Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Alpha Sigma, Pi Delta Gamma, Phi Delta Phi, Pi Kappa Lambda, Pi Sigma Alpha, Psi Chi, Sigma Alpha Iota, Sigma Delta Pi, Sigma Tau Delta, Theta Delta Kappa


Lee University is located in the town of Cleveland, Tennessee, which lies between Chattanooga and Knoxville. Cleveland is located near the Ocoee River, the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics whitewater events, the Smoky Mountains, and the popular Gatlinburg area.

This location had long been the site of church-affiliated schools. Centenary College was founded in 1884 to honor the "centenary" of American Methodism. Located on part of the present campus, that school closed in 1929, and in 1933 its property was sold to Bob Jones College, an interdenominational college which had previously been in Florida. When that school moved to South Carolina in 1947, the property was once again sold, and the Church of God became its new owner with Lee College and now, Lee University occupying the original and much expanded area.

The 120-acre (0.49 km2) campus consists of academic buildings, residence halls, athletic and recreational facilities, dining services, administrative offices, parks and green spaces, a pedestrian mall, Campus Safety facilities, music performance spaces, and other facilities. Many building projects have been undertaken in recent years, including a new humanities center (2004), a new religion building (2008), a new state of the art science building (2009), a new chapel (2011), a new communications building (2014), a new School of Nursing building (2016), and a new School of Business (2017). The campus also features articulate landscaping and many benches and areas for students. The sidewalks are handicap accessible.

Campus buildings

Note: Dates of construction given when known

Residence halls

Other buildings

Former buildings

Social Activities

Community covenant

Lee University, like many faith-based colleges and universities, encourages a Christian philosophy of student behavior based on Biblical teachings. All students are asked to sign a "Community Covenant" which lists several restrictions on behaviors and social interaction according to the school's institutional and religious policy. Most notable are a substance policy barring alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs; and its stance on homosexuality, which is banned in all forms. Men's and women's dormitories are kept separate, and premarital sexual intercourse is prohibited regardless of sexual preference. Immodesty and "occult practices" are also forbidden.[16]

Greek organizations

Like many colleges and universities in the U.S., Lee University students have the opportunity to participate in Greek organizations for the purpose of serving the community, bettering the campus and building social and professional relationships. Many of the Greek organizations on Lee University's campus are neither national nor recognized as fraternities or sororities, and are instead colloquially referred to as "Greek clubs."[17] There are currently only two nationally affiliated social fraternities at Lee University, Phi Mu Alpha and Kappa Upsilon Chi. Sigma Alpha Omega is currently the only nationally affiliated sorority on campus.

Campus Events

"Tunnels of Oppression"

In 2017, Lee University sponsored its annual "Tunnels of Oppression" event, whereby students were subjected to simulated acts of misogyny and racism so they could "recognize their own privilege." Students were led on an interactive tour which "exposes them to a different type of oppression in each room", including sexual, racial, societal and mental oppression.[23]


Lee University's student newspaper, the Lee Clarion, is published during the academic school year.
Lee University's student newspaper, the Lee Clarion, is published during the academic school year.

Notable alumni


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  2. ^ "About Lee". Lee University. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  3. ^ "Lee University". U.S. News & World Report. n.d. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Lee University Quick Facts". Lee University. Lee University. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
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  6. ^ "Quick Facts". Lee University. Archived from the original on 2011-08-24. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  7. ^ Hyatt, Susan Stubbs (2022). In the Spirit We're Equal (2nd ed.). Grapevine, TX, USA: Hyatt Press. p. 328. ISBN 978-1-888435-76-4.
  8. ^ "Lee University Quick Facts". Retrieved 2015-04-13.
  9. ^ "Lee University- Publications". Archived from the original on 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2013-02-13.
  10. ^ Redden, Elizabeth (March 26, 2021). "'Harmful to Queer Students'". Inside Higher Ed.
  11. ^ Ludlow, Naomi (October 28, 2021). "These are the 'worst, most unsafe' campuses for LGBTQ students to attend". USA Today.
  12. ^ "Lee University". Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  13. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2009-10-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Kairos Scholars Honors Program - Lee University - Acalog ACMS™". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Billy Graham's life and ministry remembered". The Cleveland Daily Banner. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  16. ^ "Community Covenant" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-14. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  17. ^ "Lee University – Cleveland, TN – Temporary Outage". Archived from the original on 2008-09-27. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  18. ^ "Lee University". Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  19. ^ "DatatelPortalNews - Melton to Serve as Great Strides' Community..." Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  20. ^ LeeUDiversity (2019-09-10). "Save the date. Culture fest is on Sept. 27th 2019 #LeeUDiversity". @leeudiversity. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  21. ^ "RECAP: Spring 2019 Ask the President Chapel". Lee Clarion. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  22. ^ "Worthy Now Conference: An evening to remember". Lee Clarion. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  23. ^ Athey, Amber (February 3, 2017). "Tunnels of Oppression Expose 'Privileged' Students to 'Dehumanization'". Campus Reform.
  24. ^ "Lee Clarion". Retrieved 2015-04-14.
  25. ^ "Clark Beckham". Lee University. Retrieved 2015-04-14.
  26. ^ "Tennessee General Assembly Main Page". Archived from the original on 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  27. ^ "Lee Alumnus Nathan Chapman Stands Out In The Country Music Business – 12/09/2009". Archived from the original on 2013-01-02. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  28. ^[bare URL PDF]
  29. ^ [1] Archived March 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Lee University's Micah Massey wins Grammy in tie for best contemporary Christian music song". 2013-02-11.
  31. ^ "Brooke Simpson -". NBC. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  32. ^ Hetter, Katia (December 16, 2015). "Fan favorite Jordan Smith wins 'The Voice'". CNN. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  33. ^ "American Idol Season Six Top 24 Contestant Phil Stacey". Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  34. ^ Charette, Blaine; Waddell, Robby (2020). Spirit and Story: Pentecostal Readings of Scripture. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix Press. pp. 1–18. ISBN 9781910928691.
  35. ^ "Zawadzki First Flame to Reach the Majors". 2010-04-30. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-05-03.