By Jenny Gregory

CLEVELAND, Ga. – Celebrating 70 years, Truett-McConnell University, along with students, faculty, staff, alum and friends celebrated Founder’s Day in Cleveland’s Freedom Park on Saturday, July 23.

Recognizing the community efforts

Dr. Emir Caner, President of TMU, opened the festivities thanking the Lord Jesus for 70 years as a Christian institution and that the university continues to uphold to the four faith-based pillars: Love the Lord, Love His word, Love the church, and Love the Lost.

As Caner continued, he shared of TMU’s growth since its establishment saying, “The first incoming class of 1947 had 54 students, this year will be somewhere between 2,100 and 2,300 students, with over 10,000 alumni.”

Caner recognized many of the Cleveland community members, churches and businesses whom have been instrumental to TMU’s success including: the Cleveland Kiwanis Club, which raised $100,000 in endowment funds and an additional $90,000 towards the start of the school back in 1946; White County, and the City of Cleveland, for their support and generosity to the school; and descendants of the four founding families that gave 417 acres of property for the campus.

Cleveland Mayor and Truett McConnell alumnus, Roy “Shan” Ash, in accepting the award on behalf of the city said: “Truett McConnell has been instrumental in putting Cleveland on the map. [TMU] is providing great education with rock-solid Christian principles.”

The Pioneers

Caner acknowledged members of the first Truett McConnell graduating class of 1949. These members were noted as the “Pioneer Class of 1949” paving the way for future graduates of of the biblically centered university.

Dr. Louise Holcomb, member of the first graduating class and first TM employee reminisced on her fond memories of the school saying: “My first day at work was spent typing letters to area churches informing them of the college and asking them for donations. We didn’t have copiers, so I spent the entire day typing the same letter. It was an exciting opportunity to be involved with getting the college started. Being a part of Truett McConnell for 20 years has changed my life!”

Ms. Ethelene Dyer Jones, who also walked with the first graduating class of 1949 remembered: “We marched in to the first chapel at Cleveland Methodist with 54 students and 9 faculty to the hymn Lead On, O God Eternal.”

Paving a way for the future

Ben Garrison, TMU’s first Master’s graduate, in May of 2016, shared how God opened doors for him to be able to come to Truett McConnell adding, “It is not a lie when they say Truett McConnell is a home away from home.”

Caner again thanked the efforts of the people who sought out to provide a college yielding nurses, educators, missionaries, pastors, business men and women who would and will continue to bring God’s love and grace to the lives they touch.

Concluding the celebration, Caner added: “God has chosen to smile upon the endeavors of people from 1946 until now. As long as we stay close to His word and stay close to the cross, the Lord will continue to smile.”

Following the ceremony, the 70th birthday celebration continued with a cake cutting and food for those in attendance.


Jenny is the Content Manager for Truett McConnell University.

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