Mission & History

Tennessee Wesleyan College serves a comprehensive student body comprising traditional and non-traditional students, non-degree-seeking adult learners and international students.

Mission Statement

In keeping with the spirit of the liberal arts, Tennessee Wesleyan College seeks within the framework of the Judeo-Christian tradition to provide for students the highest quality educational experience; to promote personal responsibility, integrity, and purpose; and to prepare students for a life of leadership and service in an ever-changing global community.

Statement of Purpose

Tennessee Wesleyan takes pride in its role as a comprehensive church-related college and accepts the challenge of advancing a community of learning on the main campus in Athens as well as the Knoxville campus that serves nursing and evening students. The college serves a student body comprising traditional and non-traditional students, non-degree-seeking adult learners and international students. Highly qualified faculty and staff are committed to assisting students in the realization of their full potential by providing appropriate career, pre-professional and professional education and/or requisite preparation for continued study in graduate school. The college offers baccalaureate programs in fine arts, humanities, natural and social sciences as well as business, nursing, other career-related areas and teacher certification. In addition to its undergraduate programs, Tennessee Wesleyan also offers a Master of Science in Curriculum Leadership with additional Master's degrees coming in the future. The college's curriculum is designed to prepare graduates to be knowledgeable, to think critically and creatively, and to develop a basis for effective judgment.

History of Tennessee Wesleyan College

Tennessee Wesleyan College, founded in 1857 as Athens Female College, has evolved to a comprehensive liberal arts institution, offering the first baccalaureate degrees on its centennial anniversary. 

Throughout its history, the college has enjoyed an ongoing and dynamic relationship with one of the branches of the Methodist Church: first under the sponsorship of the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, then, beginning in 1866, under the Methodist Episcopal Church. Today, Tennessee Wesleyan maintains an affiliation with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Throughout the years, the college has never lost its identity and place as an important center of learning in southeast Tennessee. And more than 150 years later, Tennessee Wesleyan continues its tradition of providing students with the resources and support they need to learn, serve, lead … and believe.

  • Athens Female College (1857-1866)
  • East Tennessee Wesleyan College (1866-1867)
  • East Tennessee Wesleyan University (1867-1886)
  • Grant Memorial University (1886-1889)
  • U.S. Grant Memorial University (1889-1906)
  • Athens School of the University of Chattanooga (1906-1925)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan Junior College (1925-1954)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan College (1954-present)