On July 23, 1946, the Georgia Baptist Convention held ceremonies at Cleveland, Georgia, to mark the establishment of a new two-year liberal arts college named for Truett and McConnell. Truett-McConnell College, operating in temporary quarters on or near the town square in Cleveland, first opened its doors to students in September 1947, when it enrolled a class of 55 students. The school was first accredited in 1966 to issue two year degrees. In December 2002, the institution was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to offer four-year degrees.
In fall 2003, a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a concentration in church music, which was followed by the December 2005 approval for a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in early childhood education. Truett-McConnell College now offers 24 Bachelor's degrees in the fields of Business, Christian Studies, English, Education, History, Humanities, and Music. The most recent degree to be approved by SACS is the Bachelor of Arts in World Missions. In spring 2010, Truett-McConnell College received approval from SACS to offer online degrees in Business and Christian Studies.
Enrollment declined from 2033 in 2000 to 468 in 2008 (due to the closure of its satellite campuses); then the trend was reversed. In fall of 2010, the school saw its largest enrollment of 751 students, increasing its enrollment by 62% since 2008. In Fall of 2010, Truett-McConnell College announced a new building project, the largest building project in 40 years. It included additions to the Miller Building, a new dorm that would sleep 173 students, as well as an addition to the current dining hall. Ground breaking began late 2010 and construction started in early 2011. The current enrollment is over 1600 students, including residents, commuters, online, and ACCEL students. The administration broke ground in 2015 on the site of the new Student Recreation Center, set for completion in 2016. Following this project, a new chapel and fine arts facility will be underway as well as a new academic building.
Truett-McConnell teams are known as the Bears; the college is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer and wrestling; women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, and volleyball. In the early days the team was known as the Mountaineers, was changed to Danes in 1965, and is now the Bears. The first basket was scored by Barron Pilgrim in 1963 as the new gym was being finished. Pilgrim went to the gym and shot through both hoops, just to be sure he was first. That year the college beat Young Harris for the first time in school history. Pilgrim remembers taking the first shot in the game, out past the top of the circle (although the three point rule was not in effect)--luckily it went through the basket.