Asbury University

Asbury University
MottoEruditio et Religio (Latin)
Motto in English
Learning and Religion
TypePrivate university
Established1890; 132 years ago (1890)
Religious affiliation
Academic affiliations
Christian College Consortium
Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
Endowment$53.1 million (2020)
PresidentKevin J. Brown
ProvostTimothy T. Wooster
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States

37°51′49″N 84°39′54″W / 37.8636°N 84.6649°W / 37.8636; -84.6649Coordinates: 37°51′49″N 84°39′54″W / 37.8636°N 84.6649°W / 37.8636; -84.6649
Colors Purple & white
Sporting affiliations

Asbury University is a private Christian university in Wilmore, Kentucky. Although it is a nondenominational school, the college's foundation stems from a Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. The school offers 50-plus majors across 17 departments. In the fall of 2016, Asbury University had a total enrollment of 1,854: 1,640 traditional undergraduate students and 214 graduate students. The campus of Asbury Theological Seminary, which became a separate institution in 1940, is located across the street from Asbury University.


Asbury College was established in 1890 by John Wesley Hughes in Wilmore, Kentucky. It was originally called the Kentucky Holiness College, but was later renamed after Bishop Francis Asbury, the "Father of American Methodism" and a circuit-riding evangelist. Asbury was instrumental in Methodist education in central Kentucky, having founded the state's first Methodist school, Bethel Academy, in 1790; its site lies near High Bridge, only about four miles (6 km) south of Wilmore. After being pushed out as President of Asbury College in 1905, Hughes went on to found another college, Kingswood College, in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. Kingswood College no longer exists. Despite his disappointment over being removed at Asbury, Hughes wrote in his 1923 autobiography: "Being sure I was led of God to establish (Asbury College), it being my college child born in poverty, mental perplexity, and soul agony, I loved it from its birth better than my own life. As the days have come and gone, with many sad and broken-hearted experiences, my love has increased. My appreciation of what it has done, what it is doing, and what it promises to do in the future, is such that I am willing to lay down my life for its perpetuation." In 1928, Hughes was invited to break ground for Asbury College's new chapel, Hughes Auditorium, which is still in use today.

Under great financial difficulty, Asbury College hired Dr. Henry Clay Morrison, a Methodist evangelist and editor of the Pentecostal Herald magazine, as its president in 1910. With the help of his Pentecostal Herald readers and his nationwide reputation as a great preacher (William Jennings Bryan regarded him the "greatest pulpit orator on the American continent"), Morrison was able to pay off large debts owed by the college and increase its reputation and student body. After stepping down as president in 1925, Morrison was asked once again to assume the presidency in 1933 under another financial crisis. He served his second term until 1940.

Succeeding Morrison as president of Asbury College was his Executive Vice President, Z.T. Johnson, the first alumnus of the college to serve as its president. The longest-tenured president in the school's history to date (1940–1966), Johnson's presidency at Asbury College was marked by growth, both of the student body and the campus physical plant. Campus improvements during his administration included an amphitheater, a 9-hole golf course, an athletic field with a quarter-mile track, a 370-acre (1.5 km2) farm, twenty-one duplexes, a triplex, an 18-unit apartment, eight faculty homes, five dormitories (including the Johnson Men's Dormitory), a student center, fine arts building, a library addition, a science hall, and the Z.T. Johnson Cafeteria. During his term as president, the student enrollment rose from 526 to 1,135. It was also under Johnson's administration that Asbury College moved to full racial integration in 1962.

In 2001 The Kinlaw Library was completed. It was named in honor of Dennis F. Kinlaw and his wife Elsie. It contains over 150,000 items in several collections. There are three floors and most of the collections are on the main and top floors.

The college's immediate past president, Dr. Sandra C. Gray, was inaugurated as the seventeenth president of Asbury on October 5, 2007. She had previously served as provost and as professor of business management at the school. Her inaugural challenge was given by Mitch McConnell, United States Senator from Kentucky and Minority Leader of the Senate. Gray was the first female president of the college.

On March 5, 2010, Asbury College became Asbury University. The current president is Dr. Kevin Brown, a former faculty member of the Howard & Beverly Dayton School of Business. Dr. Brown was inaugurated as the eighteenth president on March 6, 2020.



Rankings and reputation

Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report 9
Master's University class
Washington Monthly 221
Forbes 565
THE/WSJ 601–800

Students come from 44 states and 43 countries. Nearly 90 percent of the university's students live on campus. Eighty-two percent of the school's faculty hold terminal degrees in their field of study. The university offers master's degrees in education and alternative certification programs. Internships, exchange programs, missions, and community service opportunities are available and are part of the curriculum in nearly every major. Asbury has a large general education requirement ranging from 39 to 57 semester hours. The college has a 12:1 student to faculty ratio. The school has a retention rate of 82 percent on average.

Undergraduate majors are divided into three distinct schools, while the School of Graduate and Professional Studies houses all graduate majors:

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Communication
  • School of Education

School of Graduate and Professional Studies

Since 2000, Asbury University has welcomed graduate students in education. In 2005, the institution added the adult degree completion program for undergraduate students, which includes three majors and has campuses in Wilmore, at the Jessamine Career and Technology Center and online. The Master of Social Work program began classes in fall 2008, and is a candidate for full accreditation. In the fall Asbury University will offer classes for the Principal Licensure Program to prepare professional educators to provide leadership in schools across Kentucky, nationwide and around the world.


Asbury University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Asbury University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music. The Asbury University Department of Education is accredited by the Kentucky Department of Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and all of its individual teacher education programs have state approval. The Asbury University Social Work Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.


Asbury University teams are known as the Eagles. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball. Women's lacrosse is the newest varsity program, beginning competition in the 2014–15 academic year.

On March 25, 2021, Asbury announced it had been approved to begin an expedited three-year transition into Division III of the NCAA. During this transition it will be allowed to compete in Division III but will not be eligible for any NCAA post-season play. The school also announced it would compete in post-season competitions of the NCCAA during this time of transition.

The school mascot is the Eagle and the school colors are purple and white.


Notable alumni

There are more than 20,000 living alumni, who live in all 50 US states and at least 80 countries.

Notable alumni include:

See also

Further reading

  • Asbury College: Vision and Miracle, by Joseph A. Thacker, Jr. (Evangel Press, 1990)
  • The Autobiography of John Wesley Hughes, by John Wesley Hughes (Pentecostal Publishing Co., 1923)
  • Some Chapters of My Life Story, by Henry Clay Morrison (Pentecostal Publishing Co., 1941)
  • Revival Fire, by Wesley Deuwel (Zondervan, 1995)
  • A History of Asbury College Chronology, by Dr. Edward H. McKinley (
  • A Song of Ascents, by E. Stanley Jones (Abingdon Press, 1968)

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