BRISTOL, Tenn. — King College is formally changing its name to King University, effective June 1.
But within the university, King College will remain as the King College of Arts and Sciences, an homage to the Presbyterian Church-affiliated school’s liberal arts roots.
“Changes are coming,” King President Greg Jordan said in an announcement to students and others Wednesday afternoon, referring among other things to the growth in the online programs. “King College is on the forefront of change. King College is a leader in that change.”
Jordan said the name change for the 146-year-old institution reflects a migration to “programs and platforms appropriate for the 21st century.”
The change comes after almost a century and a half in existence, including the near closure of the school in the 1960s and a resurgence in more recent times. That includes 13 years of enrollment growth, the past decade averaging at least 10 percent.
King went from about 550 to 600 students in the 1990s to 2,400 this year, the highest in King’s history.
Zack Irby, a senior in communications with a minor in digital media, said the change is “about the progress and transition we’ve made.”
He will get one of the last King College diplomas this spring and already has a job lined up at a Roanoke television station.
“I think it’s going to more effectively communicate the ethos and mission that is King,” said Austin Patrick, a freshman from Gate City majoring in physics and math. He plans to go to graduate school and get a Ph.D. in particle physics and become a university professor.
Jade Schroeder, a sophomore in business administration from Titusville, Fla., said the name change would make King more “nationally known as a university,” while Alissa King, a junior in music education from Bristol, Tenn., said it ultimately will “provide more opportunities for study in each department.”
Student Government Association President Dre’ Latimore, a junior in business and digital media from southern Maryland, said the change “better positions us to offer doctoral degrees in the near future.”
In addition to growing its main campus in Bristol and offering online programs, King has established 12 satellite campuses across East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, serving the region from Roanoke to Knoxville.
Jordan said King offered the first bachelor’s degree in downtown Kingsport and strongly supported the academic village and opening of the Kingsport Center for Higher Education, where various schools offer degrees and Northeast State Community College offers two-year degrees and coursework transferable to four-year schools.
Founded in 1867, King has been listed among America’s Best Colleges in U.S. News & World Report for the past 23 years and The Princeton Review’s best schools for the past nine years. It used to be considered in the liberal arts college category but has expanded into the category of regional baccalaureate university.
Jordan credited Board of Trustees Chairman Bill Adams, a retired senior vice president of human resources at Eastman Chemical Co., for helping with a strategic planning process first proposed by then Board of Trustee Chairman Hugh McLellan in 1997.
Adams, in turn, said Jordan led the progress, and Jordan said it would have been impossible without community support.
After the announcement, Adams said the Chattanooga-based McLellan Foundation helped save King from financial woes in the 1960s.
Jordan said the strategic planning, starting with a vision, then going to business plan and resulting in regular reports to the trustees, resulted in “a university model.”
Jordan and Adams emphasized academic and research accomplishments of students and faculty, as well as positions former students hold, and athletic team performance since the school left the NAIA for the NCAA.
After about a year of discussion and based on the school’s growth over the past decade, the name change was recommended by the administration and approved by the board of trustees.
The institution’s six academic schools of learning are the King College of Arts and Sciences; King School of Business and Economics; King School of Education; King School of Graduate and Professional Studies & Online Programs or GPS; King School of Nursing; and the Peeke School of Christian Mission
Three of the GPS offerings are advanced degrees — a master of business administration, a master of science in nursing and a master of education. Also, the school plans to add doctoral programs in the future.
For more information about King, go to www.king.edu.