Bethel University (Tennessee)

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Bethel University
Established 1842
Type Private, four-year University
Religious affiliation Cumberland Presbyterian Church
President Walter Butler (interim)
Students 4,673 [1]
Location McKenzie, Tennessee, USA
Colors Purple and Vegas Gold
Athletics NAIA, TranSouth Athletic Conference
Mascot Wildcats

Bethel University is a Christian institute of higher education in Tennessee accredited to bestow degrees to the masters level. Bethel University’s main campus is located in McKenzie, Tennessee, with satellite campuses located in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Jackson, and Clarksville Tennessee.[2]


Founded in 1842 as Bethel Seminary, it became Bethel College in 1847 and assumed its current name in 2009.[3] Bethel University student enrollment as of Fall 2011 consisted of 4,673 students.[1] In 1998, Dr. Robert Prosser became Bethel University's 39th president. Prosser has previously served as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for 11 years and served 15 years as pastor of the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in McKenzie, Tennessee until the year 1986.[4][5]

In the 2010s, the University began expanding, opening Phase I of the Vera Low Center for Student Enrichment in August 2011, featuring a new cafeteria, student services offices, bookstore, enrollment offices and a student activities room. Phase II of the Rosemary and Harry L. Crisp Arena, which opened in Spring 2012, consisted of a new gymnasium, athletic training facilities, offices, and a fitness center for students, faculty, and general public. Phase III, the Cumberland Chapel, was under construction as of May 2012.[6]

On June 20, 2013, Ben Cantrell, Chairman of the Bethel University Board of Trustees, announced the retirement of President Dr. Robert Prosser. Walter Butler, Director of Financial Affairs, assumed the role as interim President on July 31, 2013.[7]

Student body[edit]

The bulk of students attending Bethel University are residents of Tennessee,[8] but the school does take students from other states and countries. Each year, two international students are chosen to receive the Honors Scholarship for International Students which includes full tuition, room, meals, and all fees.[9]


Bethel University offers the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science degrees through a variety of academic programs.[10] Since 1988, it has hosted the two-day academically-based Hendrix Scholarship Competition offering full tuition and board for the winner, with full tuition for the runner up.[11] Students who qualify may enter the Honors program, receiving a $10,000 scholarship per academic year.[12]


Music, drama and performing arts are organized under the Bethel University Renaissance Program.[13]


Bethel University teams, nicknamed athletically as the Wildcats, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division I level, primarily competing in the Southern States Athletic Conference in all sports; except for track, and bowling and football, which those compete in the Mid-South Conference (SSAC). Bethel was a charter member of the Volunteer State Athletic Conference (VSAC).[14] Prior to competing in the TranSouth, Bethel played in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC). Bethel University's mascot is the Wildcat.[15] Bethel offers Intramural sports in a wide variety of areas. Activities include: beach volleyball, dodge ball, co-ed soccer, tennis, softball, flag football, basketball, and many other events.[16]

Some of the sport teams’ accomplishments include:

  • Men’s Soccer – NAIA National Champions 2008. Played four of five years at the National Tournament.[17][18]
  • In-Line Hockey – National Champions in 2011-2012; Southeastern Champions, second place in the National Championship for 2010 against club teams.[19][20]
  • Bass Fishing – Southern Collegiate Champions for 2010-11, Match Champions, Invitation Champions, 1st Triple Crown Champion.[21]
  • Women’s Basketball – Three straight National Tournament appearances, ranked in “top ten”, in NAIA for 2010-11.[22]


  1. ^ a b "Quick Facts". Bethel University. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "Location". Bethel University. 
  3. ^ "History". Bethel University. 
  4. ^ "Office of the President". Bethel University. 
  5. ^ "HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 970". Tennessee State Government. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Glass, Jennifer. "Bethel University Breaks Ground on New Chapel". The Cumberland Presbyterian. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "President Robert Prosser Announces Retirement". Bethel University. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "Bethel University". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Traditional Undergraduate Scholarships". Bethel University. 
  10. ^ "All Programs". Bethel University. 
  11. ^ "Hendrix Scholarship". Bethel University. 
  12. ^ "Honors Program". Bethel University. 
  13. ^ "Online Interest Form". Bethel University. 
  14. ^ a b c d Bethel Athletics
  15. ^ "History of Bethel Athletics". Bethel University. 
  16. ^ "Intramural Sports". Bethel University. 
  17. ^ "Bethel College Men's Soccer - 2008 NAIA National Champions!". Bethel University. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  18. ^ "2008 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Final Recap". NAIA. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  19. ^ "Bethel Hockey Claims National Championship!". Bethel University. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  20. ^ "HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 1073". Tennessee State Government. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  21. ^ "Bethel Bass Cats to be Honored at Southern Collegiate Championships". Bethel University. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "Lady Cats Continue to Rise in Polls". Bethel University. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 

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