Tennessee Temple University Closing

Tennessee Temple University Possibly Closing

Several TTU student athletes told WDEF they were officially told the university will close after this semester. They were told not to say anything to other students and that there will be a more official announcement Tuesday morning.

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Jim's picture

http://www.chattanoogan.com/2015/3/2/295186/Tennessee-Temple-University-...

Trustees are set to vote on Tuesday morning to merge Temple with Piedmont International University of Winston-Salem, N.C. Students who are not graduating this semester would have the option to continue their education there. Bryan College in Dayton, Tn., and Shorter College at Rome, Ga., would be other options. The closing follows the shutdown several years ago of Tennessee Temple High School.

DLCreed's picture

Jim wrote:

It's kind of stunning when you think:

  • Pillsbury (2008)
  • Northland (2014)
  • TTU (2015)

Atlantic Coast Baptist College
Spurgeon Baptist Bible College
Pacific Coast Baptist College

I read a prediction by a well-known Christian educator a decade ago that this would happen.  Sadly, he was correct.  I can name at least a half a dozen others who will be gone in the next decade (if not more and sooner.)

 

Andrew K's picture

DLCreed wrote:

 

Jim wrote:

 

It's kind of stunning when you think:

  • Pillsbury (2008)
  • Northland (2014)
  • TTU (2015)

 

 

Atlantic Coast Baptist College
Spurgeon Baptist Bible College
Pacific Coast Baptist College

I read a prediction by a well-known Christian educator a decade ago that this would happen.  Sadly, he was correct.  I can name at least a half a dozen others who will be gone in the next decade (if not more and sooner.)

 

Would be curious to read that. Who was it, and what were his reasons?

jimcarwest's picture

I graduated from TTU 53 years ago.  Things were on the rise then, and no one could possibly have envisioned such an ending.  However, over the years since, many of us graduates began to worry about the seeds of failure that were there from the beginning.  Many of us had been led to believe that TTU's existence was a result of rejection by Dr. Roberson of the Southern Baptist Convention, when it was probably the other way around.  Slowly, as the years progressed, one could see the re-approachement that was taking place, which finally resulted in the SBC influence finally taking it over.  TTU's early associations seemed to put it in the camp of separatists like John R. Rice, Jack Hyles, Clarence Sexton, and others whose influence among Bible believers waned and became almost rejected.  Administrations that were subsequent to the Roberson leadership began to move in the direction of new-evangelicalism.  There was an acceptance of the "spiritual formation movement" with the invitation of men like Dallas Willard to give theological lectures.  Music at TTU went from conservative to contemporary.  The Alumni Association found it increasingly difficult to merit support among it graduates, whose loyalty waned as alumni began to embrace other leaders within the fundamentalist movement.  The seeds of interdenominational Missions began to diminish the Baptist philosophy of missions.  Strangely, the original philosophy of the schools, of being under the leadership of the HPBC pastor, failed.  The division and demise of the Church under pastors who were successors to Roberson led to a similar diminishing of TTU.  Dr. Roberson's famed quote -- "Everything rises and falls on leadership" -- seemed to be coming true.  The attempt to restore it to its former influence by joining with the Southern Baptist Convention has failedl, notwithstanding the similar experience of Liberty University that has proven to be successful.

Jonathan Charles's picture

Who didn't see this coming?  I graduated from there in '93 and '97.  As I see it, Temple made 3 mistakes:

1.  They stayed in their present location.  When the school was strong, it should have relocated.  The neighborhood was a ghetto.  

2.  They never got SACS accreditation.  This was started in the mid 90's, but it never came to fruition.  I'm sure there were other attempts since then, but it never got done.  

3.  Horrible leadership by David Bouler.  In his tenure, the church shrunk by 90% and the school by 2/3.  He didn't know anything about running a university, yet he wasn't the kind of person who would come to terms with his weaknesses.  Not being an alumni, he didn't understand, nor did he try to understand the graduates who supported the school.  He plowed ahead with change after change that only alienated Temple's base.  

jimcarwest's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:

Who didn't see this coming?  I graduated from there in '93 and '97.  As I see it, Temple made 3 mistakes:

1.  They stayed in their present location.  When the school was strong, it should have relocated.  The neighborhood was a ghetto.  

2.  They never got SACS accreditation.  This was started in the mid 90's, but it never came to fruition.  I'm sure there were other attempts since then, but it never got done.  

3.  Horrible leadership by David Bouler.  In his tenure, the church shrunk by 90% and the school by 2/3.  He didn't know anything about running a university, yet he wasn't the kind of person who would come to terms with his weaknesses.  Not being an alumni, he didn't understand, nor did he try to understand the graduates who supported the school.  He plowed ahead with change after change that only alienated Temple's base.  

jimcarwest's picture

Jonathan, you nailed it.  The seeds of defeat are usually sown many years before it occurs.  

Larry Nelson's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:

3.  Horrible leadership by David Bouler.  In his tenure, the church shrunk by 90% and the school by 2/3.  He didn't know anything about running a university, yet he wasn't the kind of person who would come to terms with his weaknesses.  Not being an alumni, he didn't understand, nor did he try to understand the graduates who supported the school.  He plowed ahead with change after change that only alienated Temple's base.

Did he have free-rein over all decisions?  Was he accountable to no one?  As a college, was there no "Board of Directors" (or whatever their designation) ultimately in authority?

Darrell Post's picture

I visited the campus one time in my life back in the late 1990s. I recall from that visit the observations expressed above, that there were competing interests, decline in progress, and no clear sense of direction. I remember all the shuttered buildings that used to have purpose; I recall the ghetto neighborhood...the bars on windows, the sounds of sirens throughout the night (we stayed on campus). I recall a conversation with the librarian who assured me that the "old TTU" was coming back strong. He also affirmed that they had no plan to move to a computerized card catalog, as he motioned affectionately toward the chest of small drawers stuffed with 3x5 cards. I recalled the church service in that huge auditorium, but had someone fired a shotgun through there, they wouldn't have likely hit anyone. I also remember in the student center a small cluster of arcade video games, one featuring a cartoonish image that was so immodest, I cannot imagine why no one had yet removed this game, or how it got there in the first place. I recall the seminary there at the time was a better part of my tour, but they were obviously holding on for dear life, trying to make a go of it. So that one glimpse from an outsider, years ago, left me with the impression that someday this once large and influential school might close.

rpruitt's picture

I too graduated from TTU ('82).  While there, I noticed a vast schism between the teaching of some of the professors who encouraged biblical exposition and what was coming from the pulpit on a weekly basis.  Messages were almost always topical, and became so predictable that a friend and I wrote down six topics that would be mentioned in a sermon one Sunday morning and the sixth one was mentioned just prior to the end of the message.  I know that many people almost worship Dr. Roberson, and that this will perhaps anger them, but as with many other places in fundamentalism, the church and school were built more on the personality of a man than on the Word of God.  I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to many when a man like Warren Wiersbe would speak at the school and would exposit the Word.  I would not want to completely denigrate leadership in the life of a church or Christian college, but the truth is that "Everything rises or falls on whether or not there is a solid biblical foundation that is continually being laid beneath the superstructure of the church or school."  Churches and schools that depend primarily on the personality of their leadership are in deep trouble.  The foundation is the Word of God laid down by the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as our cornerstone (Eph. 2:20).   

Robert P. Pruitt

Jim's picture

Chattanooga: My failed attempt at seminary school

Several negative memories:

  • Several "monitors" came out of the bushes at dusk and tackled me when I went to the front door of one of the women's dorms (it was a house).
  • Being yanked out of line as I left chapel to have my hair length measured (I passed)
  • Taking a black woman and her infant child to church. She was a student at the adult education program where I taught. WWe dropped the baby off in the nursery. The nursery workers were less than enthralled.
Bert Perry's picture

Am reading the comments with interest, and would like to make a simple "double dog dare"; contemplate the places where we have blind spots today.  The testimony here indicates that for TTU, the blind spots were "my way or the highway" leadership, legalism, at least a hint of racism, a bad neighborhood, topical preaching that hits on only a few topics (the sins we're not committing?  Or would like others to believe we're not committing?), and the like.

I've been on campus at Bible colleges, so I really don't have an insider's view, and apart from what I can learn for the sake of institutions I'm affiliated with, this really isn't "my" fight.  That said, the comment I see here is not something I haven't heard about any number of other places, sad to say.  If we're not careful, we might learn something here.

One criticism that comes to mind; a friend who went to Moody commented that in his opinion, he was learning what to think, not how to think Biblically.  Now the friend is opinionated at times (like me), but it's something to watch out for.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

rpruitt's picture

Bert,

We all tend to be opinionated at times, but you are exactly right.  I don't want anyone to get the impression that I do not appreciate many things that I learned while at TTU, but it is important to always go to the Word of God, and that rightly understood and proclaimed, as the basis of one's ministry.  And it is indeed vital to exhort people to think biblically, and to so teach as to help them to do so.  BTW, one of the reasons, though not the most important of my reasons, for preaching expositionally, is that expositional preaching forces me to preach what is in the text, not my "pet peeves" or even my favorite doctrines.  It is the best way I know of to preach the whole counsel of God.

Robert P. Pruitt

Darrell Post's picture

According to the IPEDS data center...

http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/InstitutionProfile.aspx?unitId=adada...

...TTU had 1,010 total students in Fall 2013, but only 576 were full-time students. The FTE was 677.

By comparison in the same Fall 2013 term, MBU reported 1,035 total students, including 717 full-time students. NIU reported 327 total students, with 255 of them being full-time. BJU reported 3,364 total students, 2,830 of them were full-time. Clearwater Christian reported 505 total students, 479 of them full-time.

Of course these numbers are now over 15 months old, as the Fall 2014 data has yet to be posted.

 

Darrell Post's picture

Wow - 265 is a huge drop off from what they reported to IPEDS in fall 2103.

Jonathan Charles's picture

Temple always had a way of manufacturing numbers.  The big thing when I was there was "enrollment percentage increase."  If an incoming freshman class was, hypothetically, 130 and last year was 100, then they'd advertsise a 30% increase in new enrollment.  

A problem at Temple was that there were 2 factions that supported the school, the stringent fundamentalists and, what today we would call conservative evangelicals.  Roberson would have in Wiersbe, but then, as I heard him preach in a Southwide conference, he could say what the fundamentalists needed to hear: need for standards in dress, Bible translations, music, etc.  But Roberson made it work.  But, slowly over time, the fundamentalists abandoned Temple, while the conservative evangelicals had a whole bunch of better schools to choose from, Liberty being one of them.  

As I said before, I graduated from there, twice.  When my son went to college this year, and I thought of one thing going for Temple that would justify him going there, I couldn't think of one thing.  Other schools offer more, have better academics, better facilities, and a better location.  Frankly, I'm surprised that they have any students at all.

Jim's picture

http://www.piedmontu.edu/file/PIU-TTU-Press-Release.pdf

Following the merger, TTU online students can expect decreases in their tuition rates and a seamless transition. Online programs will be transferred in their entirety to PIU. Also, residential students who move to Winston-Salem will experience a drop in tuition, room and board of around 25%. Several TTU Board members will join PIU’s Board, and a portion of TTU’s faculty and staff will be making the move to Piedmont.

http://www.piedmontu.edu/TTU

 

Jay's picture

As an alum of NBBC / NIU, this story hits home for me.  I'm sorry for those of you affected or who are alumnae.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

.....it strikes me that as D3 athletes can NOT receive scholarships, it's hard to see the argument for telling them first, unless they were on the hook for their own travel and room accomodations for away games.

BTW, D3 athletes do receive scholarships, and I was offered one.  It's just called an academic scholarship where the school takes into careful consideration that not only are their SATs above 1300, they can also run two miles in 9:38.    But that said, I'd guess those who have proven themselves will not have trouble finding another school to take them in D3.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

When grandma (who knows Christ) dies at 70+ it is sad but not tragic (particularly if she had cancer and was suffering)

I don't think this is tragic for the cause of Christ. They (TTU and Piedmont) are handling it in an orderly way. It's a win for the students. For "a portion of TTU’s faculty and staff will NOT be making the move to Piedmont": this may be difficult for them. I suspect they saw it coming. 

Jonathan Charles's picture

Temple used a lot of adjunct teachers, not sure how many full-time people were left, probably no more than 2-3 dozen.

mmartin's picture

About Bible colleges that have closed recently, Pillsbury, NIU, & now TTU, I see several common themes in each of these situations:

1.  Poor leadership - Naive & reckless, if not obtuse, regarding basic business and leadership principles.

 

2.  Lack of consistent and coherent message regarding institutional identity and affiliations - Their IFB and/or evangelical affiliations, Continually changing academic programs, & inconsistent marketing messages.

3.  Fractured constituent support caused by #1 & #2 - Half is IFB, the other half is Evangelical & neither feel they can completely trust the other side, the leadership, or organization.

 

While I would disagree with the drift into evangelicalism, I am not saying that was the cause.  There are many evangelical schools that are doing well financially and academically.  The point I'm making is that you can't play both sides of the fence and expect people to trust you enough to buy your product.  This trust is foundational to building a viable and sustainable business enterprise of any kind.

MBU seems to have done a good job solidifying their identity and message and from what I can see appears to be thriving.  BJU is sort of at a crossroads as they work to solidify theirs.

Jim's picture

  • I concur that all three struggled to find balance with disparate  constituencies. i wouldn't want to be a  Bible college president in this environment
  • Pillsbury owned the MBA (Minnesota Baptist Association) market. Of course the personal strife between Clearwater and Cedarholm spawned the creation of Maranatha and sucked energy from Pillsbury. Pillsbury was hamstrung with old, inefficient property and the decline of the MBA (once 130 churches ... now 30sih). A high debt load was their demise
  • TTU was in a very poor location (decaying neighborhood) and that did not help
  • Northland (now Boyce North) has a fantastic, young campus. Missteps by the Olson administration killed it. 
  • Pillsbury's and TTU's death would be like the death of an old man. Northland would be like a teenager struck by a train.  

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