Lee University Department of Business Transitions to School of Business

June 30, 2017–Cleveland, Tenn.–Lee University’s Department of Business transitions to a School of Business, effective tomorrow, July 1, 2017. The official announcement was made by Lee President Dr. Paul Conn in a faculty meeting last month after the action was ratified by the university’s Board of Directors.

The move to the new level of academic distinction coincides with the construction of a new home for the discipline on the south end of campus. The location is the former educational wing of the Cleveland First Baptist Church, which Lee University purchased in 2010 when the church relocated across town. The future space will support the business school especially well. For example, students will have access to a Wall Street ticker and view the market’s performance on an almost real-time basis. The space compliments the discipline’s pedagogy and philosophy as a School of Business. Completion of the renovation is scheduled for later this year.

Leading the new School of Business as Dean will be Dr. Dewayne Thompson, who currently serves as department chair. Serving alongside Thompson as associate dean will be Dr. Shane Griffith.

“When Lee University restructured into schools and colleges over twenty years ago, the Department of Business became a department in the College of Arts and Sciences,” Thompson said. “Liberal arts disciplines prepare students for different career paths than do professional disciplines, such as business and accounting. Professional disciplines are career-oriented with the assumption of commencing one’s career upon graduating from the undergraduate program.”

“Clearly, the departmental faculty are excited and ready to move forward as a separate school,” Thompson continued. “We are no less committed to long-standing core values shared since the beginning of business courses at Bible Training School (BTS), the forerunner of Lee University.”

The future home of the Lee University School of Business is set to open later this fall (click photo to enlarge)

The phrase “the first program added to the curriculum other than ministerial preparation” references the Business program in the early days of Bible Training School, founded by the Church of God in 1918. The Business program at BTS was second only to religion as a recognized program. In the beginning, the “Commercial Department” of BTS offered five courses: bookkeeping, shorthand, typing, commercial arithmetic, and business English. Non-ministerial training courses were added in 1925, seven years after the founding of BTS, but that emphasis wasn’t viewed as a separate program like the commercial courses. The Commercial program was initiated during the first term of superintendent J.H. Walker’s administration in 1930.

The Department of Business didn’t begin until 1966 when Dr. Donald Rowe was installed as the department chair. He stayed for 18 years with a brief period juxtaposed with service by Dr. Al Hartgraves and Dr. G.A. Swanson. Dr. Evaline Echols followed and led the department for the next 20 years until Thompson took over in 2004.
Today, degrees are offered in accounting, business administration, business education, corporate training, information systems, and healthcare administration.

“We endorse fully the mission of Lee University and consider Ephesians 2:10 as a guiding scripture,” Thompson concluded. “Additionally, our mission statement states, ‘We exist to create opportunities for our students now and in the future.’ This will not change. We continue to be sold out to our students and their educational, personal, and career success.”

The 2017-2018 academic year of Lee University begins on August 22.

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