Jarvis Christian College
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (December 2006)|
|Jarvis Christian College|
|Religious affiliation||Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)|
Jarvis Christian College is an independent four year, historically black college affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It is located in unincorporated Wood County, Texas, near Hawkins. It was founded in 1912, and is currently headed by President Dr. Lester C. Newman.
HISTORY OF THE COLLEGE
Jarvis Christian College is a historically Black institution that has been affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) since inception. Jarvis Christian College began as Jarvis Christian Institute, modeled after the Southern Christian Institute of Edwards, Mississippi. Formal instructional programs commenced on January 13, 1913, with an enrollment of twelve students, all in the elementary grades.
The recorded history began in 1904, when the Negro Disciples of Christ in Texas, spearheaded by Mrs. Mary Alphin, State Organizer, in conjunction with the Christian Woman’s Board of Missions, began planning for a school for Black youth. Financial goals were set. The Negro Disciples of Christ in Texas were to raise $1,000 for a school; the Christian Woman’s Board of Missions would contribute $10,000 if this were done. Meanwhile, Miss Virginia Hearn, State Secretary for Women’s Work, convinced Mrs. Ida Van Zandt Jarvis of the need for a school for Black youth.
In turn, Mrs. Jarvis worked to persuade her husband, Major James Jones Jarvis, to donate land upon which a school could be built. In 1910, Major and Mrs. Jarvis deeded 456 acres of land near Hawkins, Texas, to the Christian Woman’s Board of Missions on the condition that it “keep up and maintain a school for the elevation and education of the Negro race... in which school there shall be efficient religious and industrial training.” Inherent in the spirit of the donation was the idea that the land would be used to educate “head, heart, and hand” and to produce “useful citizens and earnest Christians.”
Although the thrust of the educational program has changed dramatically since then, Jarvis Christian College has continued to educate “head, heart, and hand,” a challenging and ambitious purpose. Shortly after the land was donated, the Negro Disciples of Christ in Texas, largely through the efforts of the women of the churches, successfully completed the fundraising campaign.
In 1912, Mr. Thomas Buchanan Frost, a graduate of the Southern Christian Institute, who was to serve as Superintendent, came to start a school. Soon Mr. Charles Albert Berry, also a Southern Christian Institute graduate, came to join him to serve as Principal. These men and their families were the Jarvis pioneers, a small group who accepted the monumental challenge of clearing the swampland and erecting the buildings in order that instruction could begin.
In 1914, Mr. James Nelson Ervin came from Johnson City, Tennessee, to be the first president. He served in that capacity until 1938, a period of twenty-four years. During the first year of his tenure, high school subjects were added to the curriculum. Notably, during its early years, Jarvis Christian Institute was one of the few schools available in East Texas in which Black youth had the opportunity to complete a high school education. Jarvis Christian Institute was the only accredited high school for Blacks in East Texas.
Although fragmentary records indicate some college work was offered as early as 1916, junior college courses were included as regular curricular offerings in 1927. The school was incorporated as a college in 1928. Senior college courses were introduced in 1937. Built in 1936, the Emma B. Smith Building is used to house several administrative offices and is the only campus structure remaining from the Ervin era. In 1938, Mr. Peter Clarence Washington came from East St. Louis, Illinois, to serve as the second president. High school work was eliminated that year. The original charter by the State of Texas, granted in 1939, states that Jarvis Christian College proposes to offer “. . . practical, domestic, manual, and agricultural training, as well as high grade instruction in the arts and sciences... ” The Florence Robinson House, now the Alumni Heritage House, is the only structure remaining from the Washington presidency.
In 1949, Dr. John B. Eubanks assumed administrative duties as Executive Vice-President. He is credited with the introduction of a general education program and additional innovations, which hastened recognition by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1950, to include Jarvis Christian College on its Approved List of Colleges and Universities for Negro Youth. This was the only regional accreditation then available to Black Colleges in the South. Dr. Eubanks was named the third President of Jarvis Christian College in 1951 and served until 1953.
In 1953, Dr. Cleo Walter Blackburn, who had served as a consultant to President Eubanks, began his eleven-year tenure as the fourth President of Jarvis Christian College. That same year, Fundamental Education was included as a component of the educational program. In 1959, Dr. John Oliver Perpener, Jr. was named Executive Vice President and served as resident executive.
The Blackburn presidency culminated with an affiliation between Jarvis Christian College and Texas Christian University in 1964, through a “Memorandum of Understanding” (revised in 1965, reaffirmed in 1969, and discontinued in 1976). Also, in 1964, the year that Dr. Perpener became Provost and Chief Administrative Officer, Fundamental Education and the Agro- Industrial offerings were eliminated as components of the educational program.
The Olin Library and Communication Center opened in 1965. This major building was a gift from the Olin Foundation. Operation Cram, a pre-college program for prospective college students, was initiated during the summer of 1965. While this effort had an academic component, its major emphasis was socio- cultural enrichment. In 1966, Dr. Perpener became the fifth president of the College. He was the first alumnus to be appointed to the office. Also, in 1966, Jarvis Christian College gained membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The next year, Jarvis Christian College became affiliated with the Texas Association of Developing Colleges, a six-college consortium of historically Black colleges. In 1969, the Texas Education Agency approved the Teacher Education Program, and the campus master plan was updated. During the same year, the Charles A. Meyer Science and Mathematics Center opened. This was the second major building underwritten by the Olin Foundation. In 1970, four additional residence halls—two each for men and women—and the Elbie Guy Crawford Titus Women’s Commons Building were completed. Dr. Perpener resigned in 1971, and Dr. John Paul Jones was named Acting President. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted reaffirmation of accreditation following the regularly scheduled visitation in 1971.
Dr. John Paul Jones was appointed the sixth president of Jarvis Christian College in 1972. A major improvement to the physical plant during his administration was a water purification system and sewage disposal plant that was completed in 1973. The Advanced Summer Enrichment Program was begun in 1976. The major focus of this program was providing entering freshmen an academic introduction to college. The program continues to serve this function. After the resignation of Dr. Jones in 1976, Dr. James O. Griffin served as Interim Administrator for two months.
In 1976, Dr. Earl Wadsworth Rand, an alumnus and a former dean of Jarvis Christian College, became the seventh president. Recognizing a need for special attention to entering students, the academic sector added the Division of Basic Studies in 1976. The Division of Basic Studies had the administrative responsibility for initial advisement for all transfer students as well as for academic advisement for freshmen and sophomore students.
In 1978, the Southern Christian Institute National Alumni and Ex-Students Association merged with the Jarvis Christian College National Alumni and Ex-Students Association.
The Earl Wadsworth Rand Health, Physical Education and Recreation Center was dedicated in December 1979, the month Dr. Rand retired. Dr. Charles Albert Berry, Jr., an alumnus of Jarvis Christian College, became the eighth president on January 1, 1980. In 1981, the official transfer of the title of the initial land donated, by Major and Mrs. Jarvis, from the United Christian Missionary Society to Jarvis Christian College was realized.
The James Nelson Ervin Religion and Culture Center named in honor of the first president of Jarvis Christian College and consisting, currently, of two structures, was completed in 1983. The two structures are the Smith-Howard Chapel and the Peoples-Dickson Religion Building. Two additional residence halls were dedicated in 1986—one each for men and women—as was a twelve unit student-parent apartment complex in 1988.
Dr. Julius Franklin Nimmons, Jr., became the ninth president on June 1, 1988. During his administration, Jarvis Christian College was involved in extensive review and assessment of its total operation. Emphasis was placed on campus beautification. Dr. E. W. Rand and Dr. Charles Berry, Jr. served as administrative officers during the summer and fall of 1990. Dr. Sebetha Jenkins became the tenth president on January 1, 1991. Jarvis Christian College received reaffirmation of accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in December 1993.
Other milestones realized during Dr. Jenkins’ tenure included a $7.5 million dollar capital campaign, the implementation of a campus-wide computer network, the initiation of the Pioneer Hall of Fame Awards Program, expansion of summer programs for area youth, the Hands-On- Mission Program for campus beautification, the Service-Learning Program, and the Walk of Fame Plaza.
Major renovations and capital improvements occurred during 1993 and 1994. A distance- learning laboratory was built to allow students at Jarvis Christian College to participate in classroom activities simultaneously with students in courses held on other college campuses without having to leave Jarvis. Since 1995, the College has completed a community technology center and a three-story 7.5 million dollar, 304 bed residence hall.
On January 2, 2009, Dr. Cornell Thomas was appointed the eleventh president. Dr. Thomas was committed to students receiving a quality education. His vision for Jarvis was that it becomes a premier Christian College that offers a quality education that prepares our youth to face the challenges confronting them upon graduation. He started a Pre-Honors Program for Freshman students, revitalized the Honor’s Program and opened the Office of Student Academic Success.
On April 2, 2012, Dr. Lester C. Newman became the 12th President and is currently serving in that capacity.
Jarvis Christian teams, nicknamed athletically as the Bulldogs, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). Men's sports include basketball and cross country; while women's sports include basketball and cross country.
Eight of the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities and sororities are represented on campus. These organizations are:
|Alpha Phi Alpha||ΑΦΑ||Theta Alpha||ΘA|
|Alpha Kappa Alpha||ΑKA||Zeta Chi||ZX|
|Kappa Alpha Psi||ΚΑΨ||Zeta Xi||ZΞ|
|Omega Psi Phi||ΩΨΦ||Phi Beta||ΦB|
|Delta Sigma Theta||ΔΣΘ||Theta Kappa||ΘK|
|Phi Beta Sigma||ΦΒΣ||Epsilon Zeta||EZ|
|Zeta Phi Beta||ΖΦΒ||Zeta Delta||ZΔ|
|Sigma Gamma Rho||ΣΓΡ||Kappa Upsilon||KY|
East Texas Natural History Collection
Jarvis houses a regional collection of biologial specimens in its 10,000 square foot Frost Hall. The collections are concentrated on the herbarium and entomology collections, but also houses minor holdings in other natural history areas of study and historical materials that are related to natural history or land use history.
Mission Statement: Our mission is to collect and preserve a record of the local flora and fauna in an area of NE Texas that has been traditionally overlooked by field biologists of all categories. We are in the process of identifying the components of habitat diversity in the region in preparation for a general survey. Our mission is to guide specialists to these areas for research and further understanding of locally rare habitat types.
Blog Link: East Texas Natural History News Blog -- LINK
- "Texas Christian University." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, (2011): 1.
- NAIA Championship History
"Texas Christian University." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, (2011): 1.