LANE COLLEGE (1882 - )
In 1882, Lane College, then the "C. M. E. High School,"
was founded by the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Looking
to the establishment of this enterprise as early as November of 1878, Bishop
William H. Miles, the first bishop of the C. M. E. Church, presided over
the Tennessee Annual Conference, at which time the Reverend J. K. Daniels
presented a resolution to establish a school. The resolution was adopted
amid much applause. The Conference at once appointed a committee to solicit
means with which to purchase grounds and to inaugurate plans to carry forward the proposed work. The Reverends C. H. Lee, J. H. Ridley, Sandy Rivers, and J. K. Daniels constituted this committee.
Owing to the great yellow fever epidemic of 1878, the committee was handicapped and did not accomplish very much. Meanwhile, Bishop Isaac Lane came to take charge of the Tennessee Conference as presiding bishop. He met with the committee, gave advice, and helped formulate plans for the founding of the school. On January 1, 1880, four acres were purchased for $240. Thus began a work that has been a powerful factor in the uplift of people throughout the South, the nation, and the world.
The school began its first session in November of 1882 as the "C. M. E. High School," with Miss Jennie E. Lane, daughter of the founder, as the first teacher. In January of 1883, Professor J. H. Harper of Jackson, Tennessee, took over the work and carried out the unexpired term of Miss Lane. In September of 1883, he was succeeded by the Reverend Charles Henry Phillips, later to be elected as a bishop in the C. M. E. Church.
It was during the administration of the Reverend Phillips that the school was chartered Under the laws of the State of Tennessee and its name changed to Lane Institute. The Reverend Phillips recommended this action to the board of trustees during the fall of 1883, and the board took action on the recommendation in 1884. Its action was one of the first significant changes in the development of the school.
The first class to be graduated from Lane Institute was under the leadership of Professor T. J. Austin, who served from 1886 until 1887. In 1887, the Reverend T. F. Saunders, a member of the Memphis, Tennessee, Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was appointed the first president of Lane Institute and made numerous contributions. It was awing this period that the need for a college department was discerned. The college department was organized in 1896, and at that time the board of trustees voted to change the name from Lane Institute to Lane College. The college department was organized into the classical, the natural and physical sciences, and mathematics divisions, thus broadening the curriculum.
In 1903, the Reverend James Albert Bray, later to be elected a bishop in the C. M. E. Church, was elected president. He held that position until 1907. During his reign, the present Administration Building was erected. President Bray was succeeded by Dr. James Franklin Lane, the son of the founder. Dr. Lane served with distinction for thirty-seven years. During his administration, the college improved its educational facilities and its physical plant. In addition, the college attracted the attention of several philanthropic agencies, such as the General Education Board of the Rosenwald Foundation and the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. These boards gave liberal contributions to the educational program of the college.
In 1936, Lane College was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and given a "B" rating. Lane College was given an "A" rating by the Association in 1949. In December of 1961, Lane College was admitted into full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
With the passing of President J. F. Lane on December 11, 1944, the Reverend Peter Randolph Shy, who later was to be elected a bishop of the C. M. E. Church, was elected as the acting president, to serve until Dr. D. S. Yarbrough was elected president in 1945. Dr. Yarbrough served until 1948. He was succeeded by Professor James H. White. Professor Richard H. Sewell, dean of instruction, was elected the acting president in 1950 and served until the Reverend Chester Arthur Kirkendoll was elected president in July of the same year. Dr. Kirkendoll served with distinction for twenty years, until his election as a bishop of the C. M. E. Church in May of 1970. During his tenure, the college became fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and six modern buildings were added to the campus.
Dr. Herman Stone, Jr., who served as the dean of the college for ten years, was elected president in July of 1970. He assumed office on September 1, 1970. During his presidency, Lane College's accreditation was reaffirmed twice by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition, the J. F. Lane Health and Physical Education Building was added to the master plan of the college. After serving for sixteen years as president, Dr. Stone retired in May of 1986. He was succeeded by Dr. Alex A. Chambers, who took office on June 1, 1986.
On March 18, 1992, after a short illness, Dr. Alex Chambers passed away. The board of trustees named Dr. Arthur L. David, dean of the college, to serve as the interim president. In August, Dr. Wesley Cornelious McClure was elected the ninth president of Lane College and took office on September 1, 1992.
Lane College, from its beginning, has served as a source of inspiration for the youth of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. Today it stands as a symbol of Christian education for youth of all faiths, creeds, colors, and nationalities.