By Jordan West

CLEVELAND, Ga – Since the school’s founding in 1946, Truett McConnell University has been an institution rich in a history of God’s provision. As TMU prepares to celebrate its 70th year on July 23, 2016 at Freedom Park, faculty and staff alike express appreciation for the community of Cleveland, Ga., and all the city has done to help TMU thrive.

Mountain school memories

TMU’s Director of Alumni Relations, John Yarbrough, stated, “We began out of a mountain school that was established by Fernando McConnell in Hiawassee, Ga. It was established to educate mountain preachers.”

McConnell sought leadership for the school. Yarbrough said, “He called on his cousin, George W. Truett, to come be the headmaster. Both of those men became great Baptist leaders, and that is where we get our name, from that institution.”

“In the early 1940s,” Yarbrough continued, “the Georgia Baptists began looking into locating a school in North Georgia. It was natural to name the school after these two men.”

“A number of places in North Georgia wanted the school. On July 23, 1946, a rally was held in Cleveland to announce that Cleveland had been chosen as the location of Truett-McConnell Junior College.”

This July, TMU will celebrate the day of their founding. Yarbrough said, “70 years to the day, we are going to have a rally celebrating the school.”

Appreciation for the community

Cleveland’s generosity to the institution carried TMU to a bright future. He continued, “The community gave us 417 acres. They gave us so much for our construction, endowments – there was a significant sacrifice from the community to get the school here.”

2016 has been a monumental year for the school. In early 2016, the school broke ground on the 69,000 sq. ft. George Blaurock Student Wellness Center, graduated its first Master’s class, and in May, announced the college would be Truett McConnell University.

A celebration 70 years in the making

Yarbrough explained, “We really want to celebrate Founder’s Day as an expression of our appreciation to the community. They have given us so much, and we want to give back.”

“We will celebrate in the midst of the community at Freedom Park. We want to say thank you for not only birthing us, but also for their contributions over 70 years. So many adjunct professors and staff have come out of our community. The campus and the community have enjoyed a great relationship over those many years.”

The day’s festivities will begin at 11:00am on July 23, 2016 at Freedom Park. “We will have a ceremony where we recognize some of our first graduating class members, former staff members, and family members of founders in the community who gave us the property” Yarbrough said.

After the ceremony, family-oriented excitement continues as TMU plans to throw a birthday party complete with games, bouncy houses, and cake.

TMU President Dr. Emir Caner said: “Founder’s Day gives us pause to be grateful and thankful for the hand of God that has rested upon our institution for seven decades.”

“Days such as this remind alumni and friends that this institution, which many times struggled to survive, was blessed by the mercies of God to train up multiple generations of students who love our Lord and have devoted their lives to living for Him.”

Concluding, Caner added: “On Founder’s Day, we give honor to whom honor is due and we give praise to the only One who deserves credit for such a memorable place.”


Jordan is a TMU alum and Content Assistant for the TMU Marketing and Communications Dept.

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