Truett-McConnell College Recalls its
Roots with Plaque Dedication
by Billy Chism, editor of White County News 
[Note:  This article, published in the December 12, 2007, edition of the newspaper, is reprinted here with permission.]
   The dedication of a plaque last Friday [December 7, 2007] by Truett-McConnell College was a reminder of how much the college has meant to Cleveland and White County over the years.

“This plaque represents the past,” said interim president Dr. Mike Simoneaux, “but it also represents the vision of the future and this college’s investment in the lives of thousands of young people who will go out and serve the Lord.”

The plaque recognized the fact that the college was located on the square in downtown Cleveland where Nix Hardware now operates.  The plaque reads: “The Campus of Truett-McConnell College was located on this site:  1948-1958.”
“I want to thank the community for its long-term support of this college and the Georgia Baptist Convention for its support and encouragement over the years,” Simoneaux said. 

The school began in 1946, with the first classes held in a home that now belongs to the Rush Mauney family.  But the school relocated to a building on the Cleveland Square that was to become a hotel.  It was under construction at the time when TMC bought it.  At the time, the building was located next to Nix Hardware, owned by J. L. Nix.  Nix later became a TMC trustee.  Today, Nix Hardware is owned by Bradley Greene and Charlie Thomas.

When the school opened, there were 56 students and ten faculty members.  Betty Highsmith, a member of the TMC class of 1949 [the first graduating class], remembered those early days in the converted hotel building, sharing her memories with the crowd of folks attending the dedication.  “I remember taking a science class in the basement, a choral class on the second floor, and an Old and New Testament class on the first floor, where Dean Julius Spears’ office was located,” she said.  “Most of all, I remember meeting a brown-eyed, blonde-headed handsome young man, Carey Highsmith, who became my husband,” she said.

Another 1949 graduate, John Ayers, shared a few memories about Dean Spears.  He also noted that Clarence Barrett, Ricky Barrett’s father, gave a home for the college president to live in and thanked the many White County residents who have given their support over the years.  “We appreciate the fact that the Georgia Baptist Convention had the vision to put this college here, and we look forward to the future,” he said.

Dr. Allen Hill of Duluth, director of education for the Georgia Baptist Convention, noted that “it was an exciting day when the Baptists of Georgia said they wanted a school here.  Georgia Baptists believed in Christian higher education then, and today we still want to be a partner in education.  I thank God for Truett-McConnell College and the legacy that began on this very spot,” he said.

The building on the square partially burned in 1958, but plans already were being made to move to the current location on Highway 115 one mile east of downtown Cleveland. 

   New Board of Trustees chairman Terry Williams of Gainesville pointed out that Truett-McConnell’s history is interwoven with that of Cleveland.  “The citizens of Cleveland and White County have been good friends over the years,” Williams said.  “We want to build on that friendship.”  He said the school also wants to be more visible in the community, adding that he was “thrilled with Mike Simoneaux as interim president.”

“He has so much support from the Board of Trustees, the faculty and the staff, as much as anyone I can ever remember,” Williams said.  “We look forward to working with Dr. Simoneaux.”
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