Lee is a Christian institution which offers liberal arts and professional education on both the baccalaureate and graduate levels through residential and distance programs. We seek to provide education that integrates biblical truth as revealed in the Holy Scriptures with truth discovered through the study of arts and sciences and in the practice of various professions. A personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior is the controlling perspective from which our educational enterprise is carried out. The foundational purpose of all educational programs at Lee is to develop within the students knowledge, appreciation, understanding, ability, and skills which will prepare them for responsible Christian living in a complex world.
Founded as the Bible Training School in 1918 by the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, the institution was renamed in 1947 to honor its second president, the Reverend F. J. Lee, and attained university status in 1997. The original purpose was to provide both general and biblical training for those persons entering the Christian ministry, and through the years Lee University has continued this purpose of "ministry," ever more broadly defined to include both church and non-church vocations. Many of the students are affiliated with the Church of God; however, numerous students come from other denominations.
Enrollment consists primarily of undergraduate students. Over 70 percent of these students are recent high school graduates, while 14 percent are adults in one of our distance education programs. Over 50 percent of the traditional undergraduate students reside on campus. In order to maintain a sense of Christian community and enhance the personal, spiritual, academic, emotional and physical development of students, Lee University seeks to foster a residential campus experience, with special focus on the needs of freshmen and sophomores. The university works to create common space on the campus and a common core of residential events around which the entire community operates.
Lee University serves the Church and society by offering graduate programs in various professions and academic disciplines. These post-baccalaureate programs are designed to deepen one's understanding of a discipline and/or strengthen one's skills as a professional. The goal of all graduate degree programs is to nurture scholars and professionals who will better serve the kingdom of God and the world. In this way, the graduate programs are a natural extension of the university's commitment to undergraduate education.
As an independent institution, Lee University is controlled by a Board of Directors appointed by the General Executive Committee of the denomination. The President is responsible to this board for facilitating an educational program presented from a theological perspective that is conservative, evangelical and Pentecostal. In keeping with the amended Charter of Incorporation (1968) and the Bylaws of Lee University (article I, sections 2 and 4), all board members, administrators and faculty members certify annually by contract that they will not advocate anything contrary to the Church of God Declaration of Faith.
Lee University endeavors to employ scholars with the highest academic credentials who present their disciplines from a distinctly Christian perspective. All truth is perceived to be God's truth and the effective presentation and integration of truth is the goal. Lee University values teaching as the most important faculty role, and excellence in teaching is the primary standard for retention, tenure and promotion. Faculty research is seen as essential to teaching excellence. It, too, is an important criterion for faculty advancement. Lee University values and rewards Christian community service and service to humankind as significant faculty responsibilities.
Lee University identifies its public service region as being generally coterminous with the geographic scope of the denomination. While most students come from the United States, the student body typically consists of representatives of a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds from all fifty states and more than fifty countries in Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Because of this geographic span, the university serves a racially, ethnically and culturally diverse student body with fifteen percent international or minority students. The institution has adopted the policy that no person in whatever relation with Lee University shall be subject to discrimination because of race, color, national origin, age, gender or disability.
Lee University attracts students with widely varied academic skills. The university is committed to serve under-prepared students with a variety of support services. While the primary source of funding is from student revenues, the Church of God provides for the university in its annual budget. The university also receives support from alumni, businesses, churches, foundations and friends.
All baccalaureate degree students at Lee University must complete a general education and religion core. The general education courses foster intellectual development by enhancing the student’s ability to observe, read, and think critically and to communicate effectively. The courses also cultivate awareness, understanding and respect for cultural diversity. The religion core courses are predicated on the Reformation principle of the priesthood of the believers. The courses are designed to enable the student both to understand and articulate the Christian faith. The campus curriculum is enriched by American, Latin American, European, African and Asian studies programs, study tours, and service-to-humankind projects.
An integral part of the university mission is a commitment to training responsible citizens to contribute their God-given gifts to the community at large. A biblical understanding of service and benevolence is introduced in the general education core, actualized through planned, reflective community engagement and developed in various major courses.
Lee University takes seriously the task of preparing students for responsible Christian living in a complex world. The goal is pursued within a variety of structures provided within the widest campus context, such as classroom instruction, extracurricular activities, student development services, residential living, and distance education. The university realizes that the knowledge, appreciation, understanding, ability and skill for such resourceful living will be evident in its students in direct proportion to the success of its programs and services whereby a healthy physical, mental, social, cultural and spiritual development is fostered.
The Lee University experience intends to demonstrate that there is a positive correlation between scholarship and wholeness; that one must approach all learning with a sense of privilege and responsibility under God; that truth is truth wherever it is found, whether test tube, literary or artistic masterpiece or Holy Scripture; that appropriate integration of truth is both intellectual and behavioral in nature; and that the pursuit and application of truth is, indeed, "ministry."
The nature and range of this commitment is demonstrated in the objectives of the institution. Lee University seeks to:
- Provide a general education program which will equip students with quantitative, verbal and technological skills; enhance their appreciation of their cultural and religious heritage; strengthen their commitment to the liberal arts; and give them a view of their responsibility as Christian scholars in the community and the wider world.
- Provide sufficient religious education to enable students to be conversant in the Christian faith, to articulate their own beliefs and to actualize their faith through consistent growth and practice by the integration of faith with all aspects of life.
- Provide undergraduate programs of sufficient quality to prepare students for success in graduate and professional school and in the early stages of their careers.
- Provide graduate programs in various areas which will prepare students for success in post graduate programs.
- Achieve the quality of instruction and resources necessary for the national accreditation of selected areas and the development of the additional graduate programs where appropriate.
- Provide academic support through computer facilities, library resources, student support services and faculty development opportunities to ensure quality instruction and a challenging academic environment.
- Provide a campus environment that supports and encourages students in their personal, social, spiritual, cultural and physical development.
- Prepare students for successful personal and professional life by developing in them a commitment to Christian values in vocational goals and lifestyle choices.
- Prepare students for citizenship as Christians in the world through reflective community interactions and teach commitment to ideals of service, benevolence, civic virtue and social justice.
- Increase the diversity of the faculty and student body, address the unique needs of a diverse campus population, and encourage academic inquiry into minority concerns.
- Recruit, develop and retain a diverse community of teaching professionals, administrators and support staff who demonstrate excellence in their professional roles and effectively implement the mission of the university in their lifestyles and co-curricular involvement.
- Continue the growth of the student enrollment and development of the capital assets to optimize student opportunities.
- Preserve the evangelical and Pentecostal heritage and message of the Church of God and provide positive direction for its future.
- Provide quality academic, spiritual, cultural and recreational services to its various publics.
To offer a philosophy of education is to engage in critical and constructive introspection. It includes an appreciation of the past, an assessment of the present, and a will to dream, even to dare, respecting the future. The Lee University Philosophy of Education has been a commitment-in-process since 1918. At whatever stage in institutional development, those engaged in the enterprise have sensed a common calling, i.e., our community is a discipleship of equals, our work is a kind of sanctification of the ordinary, and our disposition is doxological in nature.
A philosophy of education necessarily considers teachers, students, and the creative engagement of the two. Furthermore, a Christian philosophy of education presupposes the integration of faith and learning. The following represents a corporate commitment in these regards.
Teaching, to this community of Christian scholars, is a calling to serve the Kingdom of God through scholarly discovery of truth, dissemination of appropriate knowledge, and development of effective constituents. This mission requires a commitment to invest the time necessary to prepare students intellectually and spiritually to be productive citizens in the twenty-first century. Effective teachers challenge and inspire succeeding generations to discover gifts, to discern callings, to formulate life plans, and to begin to implement all of these for excellence in service. Furthermore, they lead students toward personal excellence by modeling the goals and values of the learning community, by facilitating student learning of discipline knowledge, personal skills and Christian perspectives, and by inspiring students to reach for transformational growth.
Effective teachers are characterized, most notably, by commitment to lifelong learning. Lee University faculty members are committed Christians who believe in being led by the Holy Spirit as they fulfill their professional roles in scholarship, teaching, and service. Those teachers support collegiality and accountability with respect for academic freedom within the bounds of the Christian faith. Effective relational and communication skills, disciplinary expertise, care for students, and a strong work ethic are viewed as essential qualifications for a community of Christian teacher-scholars. As members of a teaching-learning community, Lee faculty contribute to life beyond the classroom through involvement in campus organizations and events, service on faculty committees, civic and church responsibilities, and scholarly accountability.
Aware that an intentional teaching-learning community significantly impacts the growth and development of students, members of the Lee University faculty share these distinctive educational commitments: the integration of biblical truth with the disciplinary knowledge of academic specialties; the promotion of the Lordship of Jesus Christ through all that is done in the classroom, on the campus, and in the full scope of living; the encouragement of students to strive for excellence in mastery of subject knowledge, in critical thinking, in skills development, in moral and spiritual growth, and in social development; the importance of service learning experiences for all students; the fostering of global perspectives through cross-cultural interaction and multi-cultural experience; the holistic development of students through collaboration with other institutional partners; and the mentoring of students as their academic and spiritual role models.
The learning experience at Lee University includes the development of critical thinking skills and the challenge of creative thought issuing from and empowered by a Christ-centered approach to education. Working in partnership with faculty who are grounded in the integration of faith and learning, students are empowered and encouraged to discover and investigate the facets of their disciplines as they learn to adapt to a constantly changing landscape. Each student is regarded as a product of God’s design, distinctively gifted to learn and to grow. The faculty’s role is to help students, God’s workmanship, to understand the call that God has placed on them and to challenge them to examine and to use their gifts in discharging those callings.
The centrality of the classroom with designed educational activities is a given in the formation of students’ intellectual habits. Therein the life of the mind is nurtured and students become more than merely passive recipients of information. Even so, to embody this process requires a level of faculty responsibility outside the classroom whereby to build personal and collegial relationships that enhance the learning process. Desiring for students an integration of faith and knowledge, Christian teachers in that external context also mentor and counsel students to the fullest engagement of Christian discipleship.
Engaging students in the learning process, then, whatever the venue, is integral to the educational mission. While acknowledging that not all students may be challenged successfully and that ultimate responsibility for learning rests with the students themselves, Lee faculty do believe that efforts at such engagement must be intentional, aggressive, and thorough. Students must not be treated as passive consumers; rather, because of their created dignity in the image of God, the faculty proposes to challenge them by ennobling intellectual and scholarly endeavors sufficient to fulfill their distinctive vocations in life.
Sensitive Christian educators intend to approach all students as worthy of time, care, and attention. While acknowledging varied levels of academic preparation in their backgrounds, Lee faculty do maintain that all students who meet university admission standards and are placed before them are worthy of the best efforts, which include teaching techniques that are flexible and accommodating in order to meet the needs of a diverse population. Far from relaxing standards in the face of such differentiation, faculty commit to engage students in such ways that each one might realize his/her highest potential, all to the glory of God.
In retrospect, the principals, i.e. teachers and students, involved and the process undertaken may be characterized succinctly in this way: The positive engagement of the passionate intellect and the inquiring mind represents the intersection of calling, the sense of divine vocation; of commitment, the belief that the arts and sciences represent the core values of one’s academic identity; of confession, the concurrence of Christian faith affirmations and transcendental values; of confidence, the challenge that academic faithfulness does make a difference in the development and expression of one’s own character and contribution; of competence, the amalgam of academic integrity and quality assurance so essential to any Christian enterprise; and of community, the holistic and relational perception of the teaching-learning paradigm. These matters have not been consigned to the vagaries of chance but have been decidedly intentional. Indeed, the energizing Geist at Lee University is that academic engagement is a spiritual discipline.