Mars Hill College

Mars Hill College
Mars Hill College
Established 1856
Type Private, Baptist
President Dan G. Lunsford
Students 1,237
Location Mars Hill, NC, USA
Colors Royal Blue and Gold
Nickname Lions
Affiliations Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

Mars Hill College is a private, coed, liberal-arts college affiliated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The college is located in the small town of Mars Hill, North Carolina, 15 miles (24 km) due north of Asheville, western North Carolina's largest city. Mars Hill College is easily accessible from Asheville via Interstate 26, which runs about a mile east of the college.



Mars Hill College was founded in 1856, and it is the oldest college or university in western North Carolina. The college was originally named the French Broad Baptist Academy, after the nearby French Broad River. In 1859 the college changed its name to Mars Hill, in honor of the hill in ancient Athens on which the Apostle Paul debated Christianity with the city's leading philosophers. During the American Civil War the college was closed for two years, but it reopened after the war. From 1897 to 1938 the college, under the leadership of Dr. Robert Moore, enjoyed substantial financial and physical growth. In 1921 Mars Hill became an accredited junior college. Dr. Hoyt Blackwell served as president from 1938 to 1966, and under his leadership Mars Hill became an accredited four-year college in 1962. From 1966-1996 Dr. Fred Bentley served as the college's president. Dr. Bentley was, at the time of his appointment in 1966, the youngest college president in the United States. Dr. Dan Lunsford, a 1969 graduate of Mars Hill, is currently the college's president; he holds a doctorate in education, Ed.D, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Under Dr. Lunsford the college has constructed a new dormitory and science building, greatly upgraded its athletic facilities, tripled its endowment, and seen an increase in student enrollment. Mars Hill is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Mars Hill College today

The college's enrollment is typically 1000 traditional students, and over 200 older students in its nontraditional degree program. In its annual survey of "America's Best Colleges", Mars Hill is listed by U.S. News and World Report as a "first-tier" regional (Southern) liberal-arts college. The college is a Division II member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and it is also a member of the South Atlantic Conference. Mars Hill's sports mascot is the Mountain Lion; the college's colors are royal blue and gold. In May 2011 the Mars Hill cycling team won the NCAA Division II national championship. The men's cross country team have also been highly successful over the last decade; they have won 14 straight conference titles and have competed in the NCAA Division II meet 8 times in the last 9 years. The college offers five degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Social Work), and 33 majors. In 2011 the college started a graduate program to offer the M.Ed degree. The most popular majors are in the fields of education, natural sciences, and music; the college is known for its excellent departments in music and other fine arts. The "Bailey Mountain Cloggers", the college's dance team, have won 18 national championships in clogging[1][2], and they have performed all over the United States and internationally in Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Austria, and Ireland[3]. In 2002 the college opened the Ramsey Center for Regional Studies. Named after an MHC alumnus who served a record four terms as the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, the center is dedicated to preserving the heritage and culture of the people of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

The college has a scenic 180-acre (0.73 km2) campus; most of the dormitories are located atop two hills, named "men's hill" and "women's hill" respectively. The main campus is located in a small valley between the two hills. The college is surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains; from various points on campus it is possible to see Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Bailey Mountain (nicknamed "Old Bailey") is located less than a mile from campus and is a local landmark.

In 2008 MHC gained considerable autonomy from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina when the state convention voted to eliminate the requirement that it have final approval over who could serve as trustees for the college; this would allow the college to choose non-Baptists as trustees. The state convention also agreed to start transferring funds traditionally given directly to the college to a scholarship fund for Baptist students.

Notable alumni


External links

Coordinates: 35°49′34″N 82°33′03″W / 35.82603°N 82.55070°W / 35.82603; -82.55070

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