Brief(ish) History

James A. Harding (left) and David Lipscomb pose for a rare picture of the two men together. These men's vision helped establish the Nashville Bible School which would become Lipscomb University.When a seed is planted, the sower has faith something beautiful will emerge in the future.

David Lipscomb and James A. Harding boldly and faithfully sowed seeds more than 125 years ago that they believed would continue to grow and thrive in the hearts and minds of generations of students seeking to shape their own faith and to arm themselves with practical tools to build their own tomorrows.

The Lipscomb University story is one built on the faith and vision of these two men who were not only faith-focused, but future-focused as they had a passion for providing an opportunity for young men and women to increase their knowledge and prepare for a career while integrating faith and the study of Scripture.

Lipscomb and Harding were Christian college-educated ministers who believed strongly in the value of an education infused by faith. They spent many long nights in the summer and fall of 1889 at Lipscomb’s farmhouse home dreaming of and developing a vision for the future … for a school in Nashville offering an education in a Christian context.

In 1891 the men took a bold move forward and stepped out in faith to established Nashville Bible School. They were men ahead of their time … innovators in education. They did not want the institution to be a seminary, but rather an exceptional educational institution, which helps its students to explore and form their faith. As Harding boldly declared when the school opened, “We aspire to stand in the front ranks of the great educational institutions of the world.”

A Leader in Education

From its early days, the school was a leader in education. The institution admitted men and women and added a medical doctor to its faculty to teach sciences in only its second year of existence. Today, more incoming students are interested in pre-med than any other major!

Their founding vision continues to be reflected in the essence of the university today. At Lipscomb University, we believe that as knowledge grows in use, it also grows in value. With the lessons of our classrooms, we work in the world. With the certainty of our faith, we serve the good of all. With the experiences of our past, we plan for the future. We believe that when you know your gifts, your God and your direction, you confidently welcome what comes next.

David Lipscomb was confident about what would come next … an institution that would integrate Christian faith and practice with academic excellence. This mission is carried out not only in the classroom but also by involvement in numerous services to the community and the world around us.

The student body of 1900 - 1901 poses in front of the main building at the Spruce Street campus.

A Permanent Home

Associated with the Churches of Christ, the Nashville Bible School grew and found a permanent home on the David and Margaret Lipscomb’s 110-acre farm along Granny White Pike in 1903. In 1918, the school was renamed David Lipscomb College in memory of its founder and reflecting the growth of the institution. The institution became known as Lipscomb University in 1988.

Lipscomb served as a junior college until graduating its first senior college class in 1948. The institution received its first accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1954. In 1988, the university first offered master's degree programs and in 2007 it launched its first doctoral program. A vital part of the Lipscomb University system is Lipscomb Academy, which annually educates more than 1,300 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in a college-preparatory curriculum.

Today, more than 4,500 students are enrolled at the university and choose from eight bachelor’s degrees in 95 majors or 141 areas of undergraduate study, several pre-professional programs and an accelerated evening and online adult degree program and portfolio assessment option for those who wish to complete their undergraduate degrees. Lipscomb also offers 27 master’s degrees, eight education specialist degrees and three doctorate degrees in 66 fields of study.

City is Our Campus

David (right) and Margaret Lipscomb sit on the porch of Avalon Home in David's later years.We know that learning often takes place outside the traditional classroom. We view the thriving city of Nashville as our campus and the world as our classroom. A variety of global study opportunities help students learn about the world around them. Each year, more than 800 students, faculty and staff travel around the world to serve others through mission trips as well.

Students are also involved in numerous professional, service and social clubs and have the opportunity to experience art events, guest lectures, worship and athletics events as well. Lipscomb is a member of NCAA Division I in athletics and fields 17 men's and women’s intercollegiate teams.

Because of the bold faith of David and Margaret Lipscomb, James A. Harding and many others, thousands of students for nearly 125 years have been forever transformed into confident, competent and conscious young men and women who are prepared for their next in life.