Letter to TTU Family

TTU & PIU Merger: Key Questions & Answers


Dear TTU Family,

For almost seven decades, we have seen God’s hand at work at Tennessee Temple University. The journey has always been one of faith, trusting God for His direction. Most recently, TTU made plans to begin construction of a new campus with support from our Bridge to the Future campaign. This vision was one that resulted from much prayer and from input from the TTU family.

At this time, I must update you on our current situation. Despite our best efforts, the relocation to Woodland Park Baptist Church is no longer a viable possibility for TTU. This circumstance has resulted from several factors. First, our Bridge to the Future campaign to raise two million dollars to support the construction of our new campus was unsuccessful. Apart from current trustees, TTU raised less than $65,000 from its alumni. Unfortunately, less than one percent of our alumni responded with gifts after more than 17,000 brochures and 17,000 letters were mailed out to the alumni community. Second, anticipated real estate sales (based on a contract) that would have yielded as much as an additional three million dollars fell through. Third, TTU has encountered various delays in the relocation process. Issues including negotiating deed restrictions with the church, land mitigation with the EPA, and the extended process of getting necessary approvals and finalized plans prevented the move from happening as quickly as originally hoped. These issues have not allowed for the purchase of the land or the execution of the loan agreement with our bank. Overall, the resulting delay of one year from the original time-table cost TTU over $1.5 million dollars due to continued overhead costs at the current campus and rising costs of the construction of the new campus. As a result of these factors, we have had to explore new options. After very careful deliberation, the board of trustees has concluded that the best course for TTU will be to merge with Piedmont International University located in Winston-Salem, NC, pending the approval of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools which is the accrediting body for both universities.

Merging with Piedmont International University is a once in a generation opportunity to join with an outstanding Christian institution of higher education that has done incredible good for the Kingdom. Established in the mid-1940s, the two universities share a connection that stretches back to their founders, Dr. Charles Stevens and Dr. Lee Roberson. The forefathers were close friends who echoed each other’s founding visions. Remarkably, Dr. Roberson once told Dr. Howard Wilburn, then president of Piedmont, “Dr. Stevens and I were great friends, and we established Piedmont and Tennessee Temple within months of each other. The two of us had a gentlemen’s agreement that if either school ever faltered, the two would come together.” Others have also cited Dr. Roberson making mention of this agreement.

Such foresight was prophetic and even more remarkable in that it came before the dawn of the internet age where distance is less a factor than ever before. The union which they envisioned as a possibility has now become a reality. Establishing partnerships has become a predominant trend in higher education. For many reasons, primarily financial, it is becoming even more prevalent among Christian institutions. In this case, our merger with PIU will provide lower costs for students as well as additional faculty and course options.

Let me assure you that our first priority is our students. Our online students will notice very few changes as the curriculum, the delivery system, and most of their professors will remain the same. Residential students and online students alike will be pleased that there will be a significant decrease in tuition. This benefit will occur because Piedmont will very graciously be giving all current and former TTU students (online and residential), as well as their children, a one-third discount on tuition. It is virtually unheard of to see such a reduction in costs in these days of spiraling increases in the expenses of higher education. Residential students may consider moving to Piedmont to complete their degrees, or they may complete them online through PIU. They also will have local options to continue their educations through Bryan College in Dayton, TN and Shorter University in Rome, GA. These local opportunities will allow students to finish their degrees in the same amount of time as if they had remained at TTU, and for a similar cost. We are deeply grateful to these institutions for graciously extending to TTU students these excellent options.

Tennessee Temple’s heritage will remain strong. In the merger, the TTU name will be kept through the establishment of Temple Baptist Seminary as one of the divisions of PIU. There is a good possibility that at least one other entity within the PIU system will carry the Temple name. TTU memorabilia will be preserved in a special area at PIU. The newly merged institution will make every effort to include TTU alumni and constituents in moving forward with the common mission of the two schools. Tennessee Temple University was founded on biblical principles and with the ultimate purpose of transforming lives for the glory of God. Although the school will not remain a separate institution, we can know without a doubt that countless lives have been forever changed and will continue to be changed through the heritage of Tennessee Temple University.

As we go through these challenging days, we also must realize that there is a great opportunity to see great things for the Kingdom. Therefore, we must fix “our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne” (Heb. 12:2). We will continue to give God all the praise and glory for His amazing work through Tennessee Temple University in the years past and in the years ahead as part of a new combined institution.

In His Service,

Dr. Steve Echols


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