Memphis University School

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Memphis University School
Memphis University School (crest).png
6191 Park Avenue


United States
TypePrivate, Independent, College-prep, Day
MottoLatin: Veritas Honorque
(Truth and Honor)
FoundersEdwin Sidney Werts
James White Sheffey Rhea
Color(s)     Yale Blue
     Harvard Crimson
RivalChristian Brothers High School
AccreditationSouthern Association of Independent Schools
NewspaperOwls Hoot
YearbookThe Owl
Literary MagazineThe MUSe

Memphis University School (MUS) is a college-preparatory, independent, day school for boys, grades 7–12, located in Memphis, Tennessee.


The Original Campus (1893–1936)[edit]

Edwin Sidney Werts and James White Sheffey Rhea founded MUS as a college-preparatory school for boys in the fall of 1893. Their purpose was threefold: to prepare boys for competitive colleges, to provide them with a liberal arts education, and to help them develop into cultured Christian gentlemen. Patterned largely after Werts's alma mater, the University of Virginia, MUS embraced high academic standards, strong moral development, and an emphasis on athletics. The school adopted red and blue as its official colors to represent the academics standards of two universities, Harvard and Yale. In a short time, the school's reputation was so sound that many of America's leading colleges began to exempt MUS students from entrance examinations or allowed them to take the exams at MUS. After a disappointing initial enrollment, MUS prospered. Within three years, it outgrew its temporary quarters in the old Bethel Building in Downtown Memphis and occupied the Clara Conway Institute at 297 Poplar Avenue. Shortly after the move, the proprietors built their own building on a small campus near the corner of Madison and Manassas. There the school remained until 1936, when economic factors forced its closure.

The Current Campus (1955–Present)[edit]

The economic boom of the 1950s revitalized MUS, and classes began again in 1955 under the leadership of Col. Ross M. Lynn and a dedicated Board of Trustees chaired by Alexander Wellford. The School relocated to its current 94-acre (380,000 m2) campus at 6191 Park Avenue in East Memphis. By 1958, it graduated its first seniors. Like the first MUS, the new one emphasized academic excellence, high moral standards, strong athletic development, and gentlemanly conduct. Its student-enforced honor system became the moral heart of the school. During the 1960s, the new MUS grew to maturity. Seniors acquired off-campus lunch privileges; Hutchison School moved in next door; the Hyde Chapel was built; and sophisticated language labs were added. Leigh MacQueen became academic dean, Bill Hatchett guided annual student tours to Europe, and MUS worked at living up to its namesake. Clubs and other extracurricular activities proliferated as students increasingly helped run the school.

In the 1970s, the school added the Hull Lower School, the Hyde Library, the Fisher Fine Arts Wing, and the McCaughan Science building, fulfilling the school's basic physical plant needs. Ellis Haguewood began his irreverent and hilarious school day picture day (SDPD) talks and served a 16-year stint as yearbook adviser. The school's academics became stronger in a climate of increased diversity. Both faculty and curriculum grew much stronger through the 1970s and the 1980s, and enrollment crested at nearly 600 students.

In 1990, the school constructed the Sue H. Hyde Sports and Physical Education Center, symbolizing that it had become as much an athletic as an academic powerhouse. Thorn retired in 1992, and William Campbell succeeded Thorn as headmaster for three years. In 1995 the Board of Trustees selected Upper School principal Ellis Haguewood to lead the school.

Under the leadership of Headmaster Haguewood and Chairman of the Board Ben Adams (1996-2004), MUS implemented a long-term strategic plan. This included a master plan for expanding and updating the physical plant and a massive capital campaign (more than $21 million total) to fund improvements. The Crump Firm's master plan included a new tennis center with a clubhouse, renovation and expansion of the Hull Lower School, erecting a commodious new Campus Center, and razing and replacing the Upper School and the Clack Dining Hall. Construction, including the new Dunavant Upper School, was completed by January 2003. Alumnus Trow Gillespie, who had spearheaded the fundraising, replaced Ben Adams in 2004 as chairman of the Board of Trustees. Bob Loeb became chairman in 2008, followed by Sam Graham in 2013.

Ellis Haguewood retired in June 2017 after 48 years at the school, including 22 as headmaster. The Board of Trustees selected Peter D. Sanders from Greenville, South Carolina, as headmaster.


MUS enrolls about 630 students from grades 7-12. The student-faculty ratio is 7 to 1, and average class size is 15 students.[2]

The school’s intensive academic program emphasizes Advanced Placement and Honors Accelerated courses, offering 22 AP courses for college credit. Historically, more than 90 percent of MUS students score a 3 or above on their AP exams. MUS grades are weighted on a 4.0 scale.

Every year a large portion of MUS students are honored by College Board for their performance on standardized tests. In the Class of 2018, 13 were named National Merit Semifinalists. Together with the school's 13 National Merit Commended students, they made up 26 percent of the senior class.

MUS claims a 100 percent four-year college acceptance rate. The Class of 2017 was accepted to 124 schools in 29 states, as well as Washington, DC.


For the 2017–2018 school year, the faculty includes 87 teachers, two college counselors, and three guidance counselors. Fifty-six faculty members hold master's degrees, and five hold doctorates. Average teaching experience for faculty is 23 years. Sixteen faculty members are alumni. MUS maintains endowed teaching chairs for its faculty.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Memphis University School Profile (2018-19) | Memphis, TN". Private School Review. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  2. ^ "MUS 2017 Class Profile" (PDF). Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  3. ^ "MUS Today". March 2007. Retrieved June 27, 2017.