Asbury University

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Asbury University
Hager Administration Building, northeastern angle distant.jpg
Hager Administration Building
MottoEruditio et Religio (Latin)
Motto in English
Learning and Religion
Liberal Arts
EndowmentUS$27.6 million[1]
PresidentSandra Gray
ProvostDr. Bonnie Baker (Interim)
Academic staff
Location, ,
37°51′49″N 84°39′54″W / 37.8636°N 84.6649°W / 37.8636; -84.6649Coordinates: 37°51′49″N 84°39′54″W / 37.8636°N 84.6649°W / 37.8636; -84.6649
AthleticsBaseball, Basketball (men's and women's), Cross Country (men's and women's), Golf (men's and women's), Soccer (men's and women's), Swimming & Diving (men's and women's), Softball, Tennis (men's and women's), Volleyball, Lacrosse (men's and women's)
Colors     Purple
AffiliationsRiver States Conference, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, National Christian College Athletic Association, Christian College Consortium, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

Asbury University, formerly Asbury College, is a Christian liberal arts institution located in Wilmore, Kentucky, United States.[3] Although it is a nondenominational school, the college's foundation stems from a Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. The school offers 50 majors across 17 departments. Primarily a four-year college, Asbury was ranked in the third tier of liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report in 2008.[4] Approximately 34 percent of incoming freshmen are in the top 10 percent of their high school classes, and more than 80 percent of current faculty are full-time. In the fall of 2016, Asbury University had a total enrollment of 1,854: 1,640 traditional undergraduate students and 214 graduate students.[2] Asbury University is a member of the Christian College Consortium and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. The campus of Asbury Theological Seminary, which became a separate institution in 1940, is located across the street from Asbury University. The college's mission statement is, "Asbury University, a Christian Liberal Arts University in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, equips students, through academic excellence and spiritual vitality, for lifelong learning, leadership and service to the professions, society, the family and the Church, preparing them to engage their cultures and advance the cause of Christ around the world."[5]


Asbury College was established in 1890 by John Wesley Hughes in Wilmore, Kentucky. It was originally called the Kentucky Holiness College, but was later renamed after Bishop Francis Asbury, the "Father of American Methodism" and a circuit-riding evangelist. Asbury was instrumental in Methodist education in central Kentucky, having founded the state's first Methodist school, Bethel Academy, in 1790; its site lies near High Bridge, only about four miles (6 km) south of Wilmore.[6] After being pushed out as President of Asbury College in 1905, Hughes went on to found another college, Kingswood College, in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. Kingswood College no longer exists. Despite his disappointment over being removed at Asbury, Hughes wrote in his 1923 autobiography: "Being sure I was led of God to establish (Asbury College), it being my college child born in poverty, mental perplexity, and soul agony, I loved it from its birth better than my own life. As the days have come and gone, with many sad and broken-hearted experiences, my love has increased. My appreciation of what it has done, what it is doing, and what it promises to do in the future, is such that I am willing to lay down my life for its perpetuation." In 1928, Hughes was invited to break ground for Asbury College's new chapel, Hughes Auditorium, which is still in use today.

Under great financial difficulty, Asbury College hired Dr. Henry Clay Morrison, a Methodist evangelist and editor of the Pentecostal Herald magazine, as its president in 1910. With the help of his Pentecostal Herald readers and his nationwide reputation as a great preacher (William Jennings Bryan regarded him the "greatest pulpit orator on the American continent"), Morrison was able to pay off large debts owed by the college and increase its reputation and student body. After stepping down as president in 1925, Morrison was asked once again to assume the presidency in 1933 under another financial crisis. He served his second term until 1940.[7]

Succeeding Morrison as president of Asbury College was his Executive Vice President, Z.T. Johnson, the first alumnus of the college to serve as its president. The longest-tenured president in the school's history to date (1940–1966), Johnson's presidency at Asbury College was marked by growth, both of the student body and the campus physical plant. Campus improvements during his administration included an amphitheater, a 9-hole golf course, an athletic field with a quarter-mile track, a 370-acre (1.5 km2) farm, twenty-one duplexes, a triplex, an 18-unit apartment, eight faculty homes, five dormitories (including the Johnson Men's Dormitory), a student center, fine arts building, a library addition, a science hall, and the Z.T. Johnson Cafeteria. During his term as president, the student enrollment rose from 526 to 1,135. It was also under Johnson's administration that Asbury College moved to full racial integration in 1962.[8]

In 2001 The Kinlaw library was completed. It was named in honor of Dennis F. Kinlaw and his wife Elsie. It contains over 150,000 items in several collections. There are three floors and most of the collections are on the main and top floors.[9]

The college's current president, Dr. Sandra Gray, was inaugurated as the seventeenth president of Asbury on October 5, 2007.[10] She had previously served as Provost and as professor of business management at the school. Her inaugural challenge was given by Mitch McConnell, United States Senator from Kentucky and Minority Leader of the Senate. Gray is the first female president of the college.

On March 5, 2010, Asbury College became Asbury University.


Students come from 44 states and 43 countries. Nearly 90 percent of the university's students live on campus. Eighty-two percent of the school's faculty hold terminal degrees in their field of study. The university offers master's degrees in education and alternative certification programs. Internships, exchange programs, missions, and community service opportunities are available and are part of the curriculum in nearly every major.[11] Asbury has a large general education requirement ranging from 39–57 semester hours. The college has a 12:1 student to faculty ratio. The school has a retention rate of 82 percent on average.[12]

Undergraduate majors are divided into three distinct schools, while the School of Graduate and Professional Studies houses all graduate majors:[13]

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Communication
  • School of Education

School of Graduate and Professional Studies[edit]

Since 2000, Asbury University has welcomed graduate students in education. In 2005, the institution added the adult degree completion program for undergraduate students, which includes three majors and has campuses in Wilmore, at the Jessamine Career and Technology Center and online. The Master of Social Work program began classes in fall 2008, and is a candidate for full accreditation. In the fall Asbury University will offer classes for the Principal Licensure Program to prepare professional educators to provide leadership in schools across Kentucky, nationwide and around the world.


Asbury University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Asbury University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music. The Asbury University Department of Education is accredited by the Kentucky Department of Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and all of its individual teacher education programs have state approval. The Asbury University Social Work Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Notable alumni[edit]

There are more than 20,000 living alumni, who live in all 50 US states and at least 80 countries.[11]

Notable alumni include:

College presidents[edit]


Asbury University teams are known as the Eagles. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the River States Conference (RSC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball. Men's and women's lacrosse are the two newest varsity programs, both beginning competition in the 2014–15 academic year.[15] Since the RSC does not sponsor lacrosse for either sex, both lacrosse teams play in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.

The school mascot is the Eagle and the school colors are purple and white.


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Asbury College: Vision and Miracle, by Joseph A. Thacker, Jr. (Evangel Press, 1990)
  • The Autobiography of John Wesley Hughes, by John Wesley Hughes (Pentecostal Publishing Co., 1923)
  • Some Chapters of My Life Story, by Henry Clay Morrison (Pentecostal Publishing Co., 1941)
  • Revival Fire, by Wesley Deuwel (Zondervan, 1995)
  • A History of Asbury College Chronology, by Dr. Edward H. McKinley (
  • A Song of Ascents, by E. Stanley Jones (Abingdon Press, 1968)


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 1, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d As of fall 2016. "Student headcount by level: All independent institutions (2006-16)" (PDF). Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Commonwealth of Kentucky. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  3. ^ "Asbury University –". Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  4. ^ "U.S. News and World Report: Asbury University At A Glance". Archived from the original on August 2, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  5. ^ "Asbury University Mission Statement – Asbury University". Asbury University. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  6. ^ Thacker, Joseph A., Jr. Asbury College: Vision and Miracle. Nappanee: Evangel, 1900, 19.
  7. ^ "Asbury University | Overview |". Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  8. ^ "Asbury University | Overview |". Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  9. ^ "About the Library". Asbury University. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  10. ^ "Asbury University". Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Asbury University profile". Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  12. ^ "Asbury University". us news. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  13. ^ "Asbury University Academics Page". Archived from the original on April 4, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  14. ^ "About - David Arnold". Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  15. ^ Gonia, Jeremiah (February 14, 2013). "Lacrosse Coming to Asbury". Asbury Collegian. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved February 23, 2013.

External links[edit]