||This college or university article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia guidelines for college and university articles. (January 2013)|
|Visible Music College|
|Motto||"See yourself, see God, Be Visible"|
|Location||Memphis, Tennessee, USA|
|Colors||Green and Black|
Visible Music College is a Music and Worship Arts College located in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. Its mission statement is to train and equip musicians, technicians, and business professionals in skill and character for effective service in the music industry and in the Church. Visible Music College is authorized for operation as a post-secondary educational institution by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
As of November 5, 2009, Visible Music College was awarded Accreditation as a Category II institution by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).
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Visible School was founded by Ken Steorts, founding guitarist of the Christian rock band, Skillet, in 2000 as Visible Music College. He says the idea for the college's name, "Visible School" came from the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Here is an excerpt from the Visible School student handbook:
Did you know that “visibility” is all about being seen or discovered, that it’s about something that’s noticeable? Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes Christian believers as a “visible community” infiltrating the darkness, bringing a light into the world that cannot be hidden. Wow! That is who we are called to be, lights in the darkness, both individually and corporately.
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Visible School was created in the spring of 2000, when Ken Steorts, a founding member of the Christian rock band Skillet (band), left the band to travel to Coventry, England to view a Christian music college resembling the idea of Visible School for research. After visiting the Nexus Academy of Music website, he began Visible Community School of Music and Worship Arts as a ministry of Grace Covenant Church, also located in Memphis, Tennessee. The 2000-2001 school year began with twenty-one students and four full-time faculty.
In August 2001, more than forty students arrived after a summer of marketing the school at Christian music festivals and events. The school leased fifteen units at a local apartment complex and began to seek official recognition apart from Grace Covenant Church, which changed its name to Lifelink Church website. The faculty increased to eight teachers to handle the larger student body.
During the 2001-2002 school year, the school formally separated from Grace Covenant Church (now Lifelink Church website) and became an incorporated and authorized school of higher education in the state of Tennessee. In August 2002, the school grew to sixty-nine first and second year students, and partnered with Crichton College for accredited coursework through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The school also formalized relations with Days Inn, Lakeland, Tennessee for dormitory housing, creating a campus for the institution. The faculty increased to twelve and programs increased to match student and faculty growth.
In the fall of 2003, Visible School increased again to seventy-nine first and second-year students, twenty faculty members, and added a School Board. Working towards institutional accreditation through TRACS, Visible School is nearing all of its original intended goals of one hundred new students per year, and programs in the arts to minister worldwide.
In the Spring of 2003, faculty and staff decided to gain independent accreditation from Crichton College through TRACS. Throughout the summer of 2003, investigation into several arts accrediting bodies and various Christian accrediting bodies was completed. The decision to pursue TRACS recognition was made, and the school moved forward.
Contact with TRACS administration in early Fall 2003 culminated with Visible School being accepted as an applicant for accreditation status with TRACS. Visible School’s objective of offering competent, personal, and professional courses of study for undergraduate students was one step closer to reality.
During Applicant status for accreditation with TRACS, Visible School began the Self-Study documents, completing mid-2004 and hosting a visiting TRACS Evaluation Team in the early Fall of 2004. This Team gave a report with 27 recommendations and 32 suggestions for improvement to Visible School, as the institution sought accreditation. As the President and Director of Academic Development stood in front of the Accreditation Commission with two months of prepared response to the recommendations and suggestions, the College received report from the TRACS Commission that the status of the College’s attempt to receive accreditation was “deferred” until April 2005. The staff and leadership of the college worked over the next six months to correct and amend the items that were in the Recommendations and Suggestions and received Candidate Status in the Fall of 2004.
In the summer of 2005, Visible School ended its relationship with Crichton College. Visible School, now able to receive United States Department of Education (DOE) Authorization for Title IV aid, stood alone as a college for which students could get loans and aid directly. However, the Department of Education denied Visible School the ability to obtain aid for its students due to low ratio scores financially. Expected enrollment of 100 became 65, with the course load of 35 students paying in cash and unsecured loans. Financially the budget shrank, and many of the faculty took part-time hours and pay cuts to balance.
In the winter of 2005-2006, a single donor stepped up to cover the costs of running the school for the remainder of the 2005-2006 academic year. Visible School was able to hire a full-time Librarian and continue offering full course loads to students as a result of the TRACS accreditation process. The faculty continued to receive training. Many assessment processes began, as the College matured in planning, executing, and assessing the results of student education.
The summer of 2006 saw an increase in enrollment and positive audited financial statements, bringing 65 full-time students, and with tight financial restraint and budgeting, a successful enough year to receive DOE authorization for the spring term. This in turn, granted financial aid to all students in any economic situation.
2007 to 2009
In the spring of 2007, the student body number rose and the school focused on International Programs and Recording Projects, such as Visible Media Group; an artist development facet of Visible School, and VMI; a national and international week-long music training program. The Executive Council expanded to include all the Directors, including the new Director of Institutional Development. The College improved, with consolidated offices, technological updates, and reduced faculty workload. The focus of TRACS requirements link, coupled with the ongoing assessment and response with TRACS that had begun years before combined to give Visible School 70 new students.
In February 2008, the student population rose again. With more fundraising and spending, the financial success of the school is beginning to materialize. A healthy student body and faculty relationship is the hallmark of Visible School, and that connection has returned and grown through the initiatives of the school over the 2007-2008 school year. Expecting 80 full-time students in a reduced number of courses and major programs, Visible School has had the most successful year of its history in 2008-2009, culminating in a decision by second Self-Study, a TRACS Self-Study Team visit, and a TRACS Commission decision to grant Accredited Status to the College in 2009.
With the turning of the year, there was more talk of school finally moving into the city, using the downtown area of Memphis as a home base for students to become more visible to the Memphis community.
On April 7, 2011 Visible School announced its official name change to Visible Music College. “The decision to rebrand after 10 years wasn’t an easy one, but we are all excited with the new direction and feel that Visible Music College offers a straightforward name and a clearer picture of who we are,’” said founder and president Ken Steorts.
Into the City
After nine years of growth, the original campus in Lakeland, Tennessee became too small and Visible Music College began a $6 million capital campaign to move the college and its dormitories to downtown Memphis. Visible Music College acquired the iconic C&I Bank Building in Downtown Memphis as its education center in 2009. During renovation classes were moved to Lifelink Church in the Cooper-Young District in Memphis.
The college moved into to the downtown campus in late Summer 2011. The campus includes four floors of performance, practice, classroom and administrative space. Future plans include renovation of the basement into recording and production studios and the top floor as a Library and event space.
Visible Music College is committed to a philosophy of education that prioritizes community through teaching, accountability, and discipleship. Therefore, enrollment growth will be achieved through partners and teaching sites around the United States and world. Schal Werk Stadt, a partner campus in Holden, Germany, opened in Fall 2011. Authorization to offer blended instruction and a teaching site in Lansing, Illinois will begin in the 2014-2015 academic year.
- The Christian rock band Ilia attended the 2005-2006 academic year, and then signed a management contract with Seth Holloway, and a booking contract with Bridge Street Artist Agency in Nashville.
- Sam Hancock attended the 2005-2006 academic year. He formed the Indie rock band Luminate after moving to Tyler, Texas.
The plans to build a brand new, state-of-the-art Urban Campus in Memphis in 2011 came to fruition. The improvements and upgrades still go on to this day while academic life goes on around its ever-changing renovation. The school received a 3 million-dollar matching grant to move the campus into Downtown Memphis. The new urban campus is located in the renovated C&I Bank Building on 200 Madison Avenue, in Downtown Memphis.
According to a 2012 interview with Christian magazine "Greenville In One Accord," President Ken Steorts stated his desire for the future of the college as, "A series of small campuses around the world bringing worship leadership, music training, and equipping to young people on every continent in groups of 132 students and 20-30 staff in each location serving the local churches, expanding the realm of Christian scholarship, musical maturity, outreach, and ministry to bands and the public, and maintain a 'radical center' way of loving community and professionalism."
With the new urban campus well underway and the Chicago campus finishing renovations for the 2014-2015 academic year, Visible Music College is continuing to expand and grow. Future plans of beginning a campus in Texas is anticipated for the Fall 2015 term.
- Visible Music College Website
- Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)
- Accreditation Standards
- Lifelink Church of Memphis
- U.S. Department of Education
- The Nexus Academy of Music
- Visible School Academic Handbook, 2010-2011, Page 8. Download Dead link as of August 16, 2011
- Visible Music College awarded accreditation
- Bonhoffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship, Chapter 7, The Visible Community. page 132.
- Visible School Academic Catolog, 2008-2009; Student handbook, page 2.Download Dead link as of August 16, 2011.
- Visible School Academic Catalog, 2008-2009, Page 7, paragraph 2. Download Dead link as of August 16, 2011.
- Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Listing of authorized post-secondary institutions
- TRACS accreditation standards Download TRACS accreditation manual Download
- Visible Media Group website link
- Visible Music Instructive website link
- Visible Music College link
- Into the City Capital Campaign