Baptist University of America
Tampa, Florida and Decatur, Georgia
The Atlanta History Center provided a copy of the June 1977 BUA News. Covering the installation of Dr. Cecil Hodges as B.U.A.’s third president, that newsletter noted school mission and traditions. The school motto (above) came from the newsletter. Internet Archive has put the 1985 and 1986 Profile, the school yearbook, online. Most regular newspaper coverage came from the Marietta Journal. Author Gail Chord Schuler attended Baptist University of America and provided a brief online account of her experience there.
Baptist University of America grew out of classes organized in 1965 by Dr. Al C. Janney of the Homeland Baptist Church in Miami, FL. In 1971 Janney chartered Baptist University of America. By 1974 four other small church-based colleges had joined—Temple Heights Christian College of Tampa, Tallahassee Christian College, Regency Baptist College and University Christian College. Other than providing a college education in a fundamental Christian Environment, B.U.A. “trained pastors, teachers, missionaries, and other Christian workers.”
According to BUA News, B.U.A. was supported by “independent fundamental Baptist churches.” Since the university subscribed to the “verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture,” the Bible was taught “without compromise.” Part of the new president’s charge was to “make sure that students learn it thoroughly and obey it implicitly.” Schuler reported that she did “daily Bible reading” and attended a daily chapel message.
Enrollment was listed at 300 in 1974, the first year after the merger. Five years later school authorities reported that the school was “bursting at the seams” with 500 students. A 1981 article on the football team noted that B.U.A. had “only 300 students.” BUA News reported 16 graduates in 1977.
B.U.A. encompassed five schools; Humanities, Education, Theology, Music, and Business. Although never accredited, B.U.A. offered B.A. and B.S. degrees. It also had a Bible Institute, approved for the training of veterans in 1977. Schuler reported that B.U.A. had a strong arts emphasis, largely due to the presence of three members of the Jacquot family. She noted that B.U.A. had a comedy theater in which Dan Whitney, now known as “Larry the cable Guy,” excelled.
Musical groups from B.U.A. received prominent newspaper coverage. The Hymnsmen Quartet performed in Atlanta-area churches. Described as “a dynamic singing team” the B.U.A. Singers visited more than 250 churches over a 27-month period. The Musical Ensemble of 13 voices often toured for the school with programs of music and testimony.
Two honor societies-- Pi Beta and Pi Epsilon--are mentioned in newspapers.
Baptist University of America closed May 1987.
BUA Singers. Image from the 1985 Profile, courtesy of Internet Archive.
Bricks and Mortar
B.U.A. opened in Tampa in the spring semester of 1974. That December it moved to a more central location at Decatur, GA, with a campus on Whites Mill Road at its intersection with Candler Road. By 1979, with 200 on-campus students, the school needed more space, so newspapers reported that it was entering negotiations for a property in Cobb County. Those negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful.
The Newsletter reported that three rooms of the building were given to the Sunday School Museum.
After B.U.A. closed, the church and dormitories were renovated to become a center for the Comprehensive Alcoholism Rehabilitation Program (CARP).
1985-86 basketball team. Image from the 1986 Profile, courtesy of Internet Archive.
Team name: Eagles
Colors: Red, White and Blue
College Football Data Warehouse shows limited football in 1977 and 1980 and at least six-game schedules in 1981-84. Yearly opponents included Millsaps (MS), Maryville (TN), Lane (TN), Fort Valley State (GA), Baptist Christian (LA), and Kentucky Wesleyan. Guy Rogers, who played for the Eagles 1984-85, reported four victories during that period--over Baptist Christian, University of Mobile (twice), and Fisk University.
Basketball and baseball teams competed in the National Christian College Athletic Association, Division II. The 1980 and 1981 basketball teams enjoyed twenty-win seasons.