Lincoln Memorial University
Motto"We Wear His Name Proudly"
On seal: "With malice toward none, with charity for all"
TypePrivate university
EstablishedFebruary 12, 1897; 127 years ago (February 12, 1897)
Academic affiliation
Endowment$41.4 million (2019)
PresidentClayton Hess
Academic staff
310 full-time,[2] 273 part-time
Administrative staff
Location, ,
36°34′51″N 83°39′24″W / 36.5808°N 83.6566°W / 36.5808; -83.6566
CampusDistant town[3], 1,000 acres (4.0 km2)
ColorsDark blue and light gray
NicknameRailsplitters (Splitters)
Sporting affiliations
Lincoln Library and Museum

Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a private university in Harrogate, Tennessee. LMU's 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) campus borders on Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. As of fall 2023, it had 1,605 undergraduate and 4,200 graduate and professional students.[4]

LMU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). In March 2019, the LMU Duncan School of Law received full accreditation by the American Bar Association.

The university's Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum displays and interprets a large collection of memorabilia relating to the school's namesake, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War.[5] The collection was initially formed from donations by the school's early benefactor, General Oliver O. Howard, and his friends.[6]


In the 1880s, an entrepreneur named Alexander Arthur (1846–1912) and several associates established a firm called American Association, Ltd., the primary purpose of which was to develop the iron ore and coal resources of the Cumberland Gap area. Arthur founded Middlesboro, Kentucky for the company's employees and furnaces, and constructed a railroad line connecting Middlesboro with Knoxville, Tennessee. Arthur believed Middlesboro would grow into a large industrial city, the so-called "Pittsburgh of the South." In 1888, he founded the city of Harrogate, which he envisioned would someday be a suburb for Middlesboro's elite.[7]

Arthur and American Association spent some two million dollars developing Harrogate, the jewel of which was the Four Seasons Hotel, a 700-room structure believed to have been the largest hotel in the U.S. at the time.[7] The hotel included a lavish dining hall, a casino, and a separate sanitarium. The economic panic of the early 1890s and the subsequent collapse of Arthur's London financial backers doomed American Associates and the Four Seasons was sold and dismantled.[7]

In 1896, General Oliver O. Howard, a former Union officer who had helped establish Howard University (named for him), embarked on a lecture tour. Howard's agent, Cyrus Kehr, suggested Howard establish a university as a living memorial to President Abraham Lincoln. On June 18, 1896, Howard spoke at the Harrow School, an elementary school at Cumberland Gap founded a few years earlier by Reverend A. A. Myers. After the lecture, Myers asked Howard for assistance in establishing a college for the Cumberland Gap region. Howard related to Myers a conversation he had with Lincoln in 1863 in which the president expressed a desire to do something to help the people of East Tennessee, a majority of whom remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War in spite of the greater state's secession, and, remembering Kehr's suggestion, agreed to help Myers establish a university in Lincoln's honor.[8]

Lincoln Memorial University, c. 1915

With the help of Howard and Kehr, Myers purchased the Four Seasons property, although the sanitarium building was all that remained of the once lavish hotel. Lincoln Memorial University was chartered on February 12, 1897— Lincoln's 88th birthday— with Cyrus Kehr as its first president. Howard joined the university as its managing director in 1898, and under his leadership the university expanded,[8] acquiring among other places Alexander Arthur's house, which the university used as a conservatory.[7] Howard mentioned the university and its purpose in a speech at Carnegie Hall in 1901, which helped raise money and allowed the university to pay off its debts.[9]

In 1902, the sanitarium building burned, and its surviving blocks were used to build Grant-Lee Hall, which has since been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.[9] Arthur's house also burned, but its tower, now called "Conservatory Tower", still stands.[9] In April 1917, British folklorist Cecil Sharp spent several days at Lincoln Memorial University, where he collected 22 local versions of "old world" ballads such as "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor", "The Daemon Lover", and "Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight."[10]

Literary legacy and the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival

LMU is known for a rich literary history that includes such renowned authors as James Still (River of Earth, The Wolfpen Poems), Jesse Stuart (Taps for Private Tussie, The Thread That Runs So True), Don West (Clods of Southern Earth), and George Scarbrough (Tellico Blue). At one point, Emma Bell Miles, author and painter, served as Artist-in-Residence at the university, a position that went unfilled until it was taken over by bestselling novelist Silas House (Clay's Quilt, The Coal Tattoo) in 2005. House started the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival that same year and the gathering has grown steadily, featuring the region's most celebrated writers (Lee Smith, Earl Hamner, Jr., Ron Rash, Sheila Kay Adams, Denise Giardina, etc.) and becoming one of the premier events of Appalachian literature. Lincoln Memorial University is also home to the Grant Lee Literary Society, which spawned the still surviving Gamma Lambda Sigma Fraternity.

Richard A. Gillespie College of Veterinary Medicine

The LMU College of Veterinary Medicine welcomed its inaugural class in 2014 and achieved American Veterinary Medical Association accreditation in January 2019.[11] Though many classes and research facilities are located on the main LMU campus in the Richard A. Gillespie College of Veterinary Medicine building (completed in 2020), the College of Veterinary Medicine's hands-on educational facilities are located 12 miles from Harrogate in Ewing, Virginia. The DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center (DVTC) is housed on 700 acres and provides extensive practical experience and educational opportunities with a wide variety of species. The Large Animal Component of the DVTC provides a working farm environment with a large herd of cattle, and provides a hands-on education site where anatomy, clinical, and surgical skills are taught for dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and sheep.[12]

DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine

Main article: Lincoln Memorial University - DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine

The initial plans to open Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) began in 2004. Autry O.V. Pete DeBusk, the Chairman of the LMU Board of Trustees and LMU alumnus, was interested in starting a college of osteopathic medicine at LMU. After conducting a year-long feasibility study, LMU announced it was pursuing the development of a college of osteopathic medicine and named Ray Stowers, D.O., F.A.C.O.F.P., a rural family physician, as vice president and dean.[13] The college was named DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in honor of its initiator. The four-story, 105,000-square-foot (9,800 m2) building was opened to its inaugural class of osteopathic medical students on August 1, 2007.[14]

The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine offers two degrees, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, and a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.[14] The college is accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) and the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[4]

Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University

In the spring of 2008, Lincoln Memorial University announced plans to seek approval to offer legal education leading to the Juris Doctor degree. The law school, named in honor of Tennessee Congressman John James Duncan, Jr., is located in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee in the building commonly referred to as "Old City Hall".[15] The entering class of the Fall 2011 full-time program had an average LSAT score of 147 while the part-time program had an average LSAT score of 145.[16] These scores represent 33rd and 26th percentile of all LSAT test takers.[17] The average GPA for the entering class of 2011 is 3.01 for the full-time program and 2.99 for the part-time program.[16]

In February 2009, the law school received approval from the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, which allows Duncan School of Law graduates to apply to take the Tennessee Bar Examination.[18] LMU's law school has 231 students. In December 2011, the American Bar Association refused the school's application for provisional accreditation.[19] In reaction, the Duncan School sued the ABA, alleging that the ABA was using accreditation to limit the production of new lawyers, thus violating federal antitrust laws.[20] In January 2012, after a judge denied the school's requests for an injunction and temporary restraining order against the ABA, the school filed an appeal with the ABA.[21] As a result of the ABA's denial of provisional accreditation, numerous students withdrew or sought to transfer from Duncan School of Law.[22]

In February 2012, Duncan School of Law was sued by a former student for "negligent enrollment."[23] The case was dismissed in 2013.[24] LMU-DSOL received provisional accreditation in 2014. In total 91% of all LMU-DSOL graduates who have sat for the exam have passed.[citation needed] Since the law school graduated its first class in May 2013, 93 percent of LMU Law graduates who have taken a bar exam have passed it.[citation needed]

LMU-DSOL was granted full accreditation on March 1, 2019.[25]

LMU-DSOL's 2021 first-time bar passage rate was 50.67%.[26] Of the 2020 graduating class, 62.7% secured full-time long-term bar passage required or JD-advantage employment within 10 months of graduation.[27]


Main article: Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters

LMU sports teams, called the "Railsplitters", compete in NCAA Division II in the South Atlantic Conference.

LMU currently competes in 21 sports. Men's sports are: baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, track & field outdoor, volleyball, and wrestling. Women's sports are: basketball, beach volleyball, bowling, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field outdoor, volleyball, and wrestling. Bowling participates as an East Coast Conference affiliate.[28] Beach volleyball and men's volleyball are single-division NCAA sports.

LMU does not have a football program, though it did have one in the past. Other sports formerly offered at LMU include fencing and tumbling.

Athletics have been a part of LMU since 1907, when baseball was first organized on campus.

Facilities include the Turner Arena, Mary Mars Gymnasium, Dorothy Neely Field (Softball), Lamar Hennon Field (Baseball), LMU Soccer Complex, LMU Lacrosse Complex, LMU Tennis Complex, LMU Indoor Tennis Center, and LMU Golf Complex. The bowling teams are based out of Hillcrest Lanes in Harrogate, Tennessee and the golf teams are based out of Woodlake Golf Club in Tazewell, Tennessee.

J. Frank White Academy

Founded in 1989, the J. Frank White Academy (JFWA) is a college preparatory school at Lincoln Memorial University. The academy serves average and above average ability students in grades K through twelve who desire a college preparatory education.[29] Included in tuition, qualifying Academy juniors and seniors can take up to 30 hours of LMU classes for dual credit or just college credit.[30]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "NAICU-LMU".
  2. ^ a b c "Lincoln Memorial University". College Navigator. Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  3. ^ "IPEDS-Lincoln Memorial University".
  4. ^ a b "Quick Facts". Lincoln Memorial University. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  5. ^ "Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum". Lincoln Memorial University. Archived from the original on December 2, 2006.
  6. ^ Vial, Rebecca A., "Lincoln Memorial University", Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, retrieved October 10, 2010
  7. ^ a b c d Edgar Holt, Claiborne County (Memphis, Tenn.: Memphis State University Press, 1981), pp. 44–49, 73.
  8. ^ a b "Oliver Otis Howard and Lincoln Memorial University" (PDF). Lincoln Memorial University. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 16, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c Carolyn Sakowski, Touring the East Tennessee Backroads (Winston-Salem: J.F. Blair, 1993), pp. 178–179.
  10. ^ Cecil Sharp, Maud Karpeles (ed.), English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, Volumes I and II (London: Oxford University Press, 1932), pp. xiv (I), 122 (I), 252 (I), 127 (II), 41 (II).
  11. ^ Larkin, Malinda (January 30, 2019). "Lincoln Memorial celebrates accredited status". AVMA. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  12. ^ "Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine" (PDF). Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  13. ^ "LMU – DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine – Faculty". Archived from the original on May 28, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  14. ^ a b "LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine – Lincoln Memorial University". Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  15. ^ "LMU-Duncan School of Law". Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  16. ^ a b "LMU-DSOL Admissions". Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  17. ^ "LSAT Score Conversion and Chart, LSAT Percentiles and LSAT Scores Conversion – LSAT Prep Online by". March 4, 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  18. ^ "LMU-DSOL Accreditation". Archived from the original on May 29, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  19. ^ Karen Sloan (December 20, 2011). "Duncan School of Law denied accreditation". The National Law Journal. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  20. ^ "LMU sues bar association over accreditation denial", Knoxville News Sentinel, Associated Press, December 23, 2011
  21. ^ Jim Matheny (January 18, 2012), LMU's Duncan School of Law files appeal with ABA after judge denies injunction request, WBIR-TV
  22. ^ Karen SloanContactAll Articles (February 9, 2012). "Spurned law school renews courtroom attack on ABA". Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  23. ^ "Another Law School Sued, But This Time With Allegations of 'Negligent Enrollment' « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts". February 16, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  24. ^ "Court Case Record Morgan L. Crutchfield vs. Lincoln Memorial University, et al E2013-00273-COA-R3-CV". Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  25. ^ "Lincoln Memorial law school gets full ABA approval". WATE 6. March 1, 2019.
  26. ^ "Lincoln Memorial University ABA Disclosures". LMU. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  27. ^ "LMU ABA Disclosures". February 4, 2022.
  28. ^ "ECC Adds Lincoln Memorial University as Women's Bowling Associate Member". East Coast Conference. April 19, 2016. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 5, 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved January 5, 2009.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Dan Bradbury - Men's Golf - Lincoln Memorial University". Archived from the original on November 27, 2022. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  32. ^ "Happy 80th Birthday, John Rice Irwin!". The Norris Bulletin. 64 (49): 1, 6. December 8, 2010.