William Jennings Bryan University was chartered in 1930 and admitted its first class in the fall of that year. Its stated purpose was, and is, to provide “for the higher education of men and women under auspices distinctly Christian and spiritual.” In 1958 its name was changed to William Jennings Bryan College and in 1993 was shortened to Bryan College.
William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) came to Dayton in 1925 for the Scopes Evolution Trial when he expressed the wish that a school that would teach truth from a Biblical perspective might be established on one of Dayton’s scenic hills.
By far the most celebrated court case in Rhea County and perhaps in all of Tennessee history was the case of the State of Tennessee vs. John Thomas Scopes, which took place in Dayton's Rhea County Courthouse.
John Scopes is pronounced guilty and fined $100.00.
On Sunday, July 26th, Bryan drove from Chattanooga to Dayton, was called upon to deliver the morning prayer at the First Southern Methodist Church, and that afternoon died in his sleep. Five days later he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery underneath the inscription “He kept the Faith.”
Following Mr. Bryan’s death in Dayton on July 26, 1925, a national memorial association was formed to raise funds for the establishment of an educational institution in Bryan’s honor to be located in Dayton, Tennessee.
William Jennings Bryan University is chartered. The first class is admitted that fall. The name was changed to William Jennings Bryan College in 1958 and was shortened to Bryan College in 1993.
Bryan College is a small, regionally accredited Christian liberal arts college located in Dayton, TN. With both on-campus and online programs, more than 50 areas of study are offered for Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees, as well as professional certificates.
Founded in 1930, Bryan College has a rich legacy of educating students to become servants of Christ and make a difference in today’s world.