College Timeline Highlights

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Commoner Yearbook Archive
1925 William Jennings Bryan dies in Dayton five days after the end of the Trial. William Jennings Bryan Memorial University Association founded.  
1926 Governor Austin Peay breaks ground on Matthews Hill.  
1927 Construction begins on the Administration Building.  
1929 The stock market crashes, causing many donors to default on their pledges and construction on the Administration Building stops.  
1930 Despite financial difficulties, William Jennings Bryan University officially opens its doors and classes meet in the former Rhea County High School under the leadership of Dr. George E. Guille.  
1931  Dr. Malcolm Lockhart becomes president of the University after the death of Dr. Guille.  
1932 The University builds the Octagon, and acquires Cedar Hill, a nearby former hospital, to serve as the first dormitories.  
1933 Dr. Judson Rudd takes over the presidency after Dr. Lockhart resigns due to health concerns. Dr. Rudd serves as Acting President until formally elected in 1936.  
1934 Students sign a petition indicating their desire to move to Bryan Hill (formerly Matthews Hill) and continue construction on the Administration Building. The Administration agrees and construction resumes. The students commit to the project by serving as the workforce alongside the construction workers.  
1935 Classes meet for the first time on Bryan Hill.  
1952 The Administration Building is fully enclosed.  
1956 Dr. Theodore Mercer takes over from Dr. Rudd as the President. Dr. Mercer serves as President for 30 years.  
1958 School changes its name to William Jennings Bryan College.  
1963 Annex completed (renamed “Anderson Annex" in 2000)  
1964 H. D. Long and Huston Residence Halls open.  
1969 The college is accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. First President’s Home completed.  
1970 Summers Gymnasium is completed.  
1972 Arnold Residence Hall opens.  
1976 Construction on Rudd Memorial Auditorium is completed.  
1979 College enrollment reaches record high of 645.  
1982 Summers South Annex added.  
1984 Woodlee-Ewing Residence Hall completed.  
1986 Having already announced his retirement, Dr. Mercer passes away six days before graduation. Dr. Kenneth G. Hanna (a former Bryan College student) takes over as president.  
1989 Center for Origins Research founded.  Swimming Pool opens.  
1993 Dr. Hanna resigns and professor and provost Dr. William E. Brown takes over the presidency. The College shortens its name to Bryan College.  
1995 Soccer Field moved to current site.  
2000 A major fire almost destroys the Administration Building on February 6. The students, faculty and staff again show their commitment to the college by volunteering time to help get the school running again. Classes resume one day after the fire. Latimer Student Center completed.  
2001 New Library opens and Administration Building (renamed Mercer Hall in 2005) rebuilt. Physical Plant facility and second President's Home completed. Loop road around campus replaces road that went through the center of campus.  
2002 Senter Baseball Field moved to current site.  
2003 Dr. Brown resigns to take the presidency of Cedarville University, and Dr. Stephen D. Livesay becomes Bryan’s seventh president.  
2004 Chattanooga campus opens.  
2005 The college dedicates a statue of William Jennings Bryan on the Rhea County Courthouse lawn in recognition of the College's 75th anniversary. The Bryan Institute for Critical Thought and Practice founded. Rankin Communications Center completed.  
2006 Construction of Robinson Hall completed. Bryan’s first online classes begin.  Bryan offers first master’s degree program.  
2008 Enrollment in all programs exceeds 1,000 for the first time.  
2010 Highway 27 entrance construction completed. Two Townhouses @ Bryan Commons completed.  
2011 Knoxville campus opens.  
2012 Rudd Auditorium renovated.  Enrollment in all programs exceeds 1,500.