Bob Jones University

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Bob Jones University
City: Greenville, South Carolina
Type: Private
Colors: dark blue, light blue, whtie

Bob Jones University (BJU) is a conservative, Christian arts college in Greenville, South Carolina that was founded in 1927.

Although the founder, Bob Jones Sr., was a Methodist, the school has over time been more affiliated with the Independent Baptist movement, due to similar viewpoints on religious and moral issues.

It welcomes homeschoolers;[1] nearly 30% of the student body has graduated from homeschool programs.[2]


From 1927 to 1933, Bob Jones College was located in Bay County Florida. However, during the depression, students could not afford to attend college a long distance from home, so in 1933 BJU moved to Cleveland, Tennessee. In 1947, it moved to Greenville, South Carolina and changed its name to Bob Jones University. That year, Bob Jones, Jr. was named President. In 1971, Dr. Bob Jones Jr. became the university chancellor, and Dr. Bob Jones III assumed the responsibilities of president. Dr. Stephen Jones was installed as the fourth-generation president during commencement in 2005.[3] In May 2014, Steve Pettit became President.[4] Pettit is the first president in the University's history not related to Bob Jones Sr.[5]

The University has litigated its racial policies to the U.S. Supreme Court. The University did not enroll Africans or African-American students until 1971. From 1971 to 1975, BJU admitted only married black students. In 1975, the University Board of Trustees authorized a change in policy to admit black students, but also expanded rules against interracial dating and marriage. In 1976, the Internal Revenue Service revoked the university's tax exemption retroactively to December 1, 1970 on grounds that it was practicing racial discrimination.[6] BJU continued to appeal up to the Supreme Court, where it lost its case in 1983. Rather than give up its interracial dating policies, the University paid a million dollars in back taxes. (In 2000, Bob Jones III dropped the interracial dating rule. Later, BJU regained its tax-exempt status, a move which has not been without controversy.)

The University owns BJU Press, which along with A Beka are the two largest publishers of textbooks for the private Christian school and homeschool market.


Its Mission Statement is: Within the cultural and academic soil of liberal arts education, Bob Jones University exists to grow Christlike character that is Scripturally disciplined; others-serving; God-loving; Christ-proclaiming; and focused Above.

For years, Bob Jones University was a routine campaign stop for conservative Republicans visiting South Carolina. Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle, Pat Buchanan and Robert J. Dole campaigned at BJU.[7] Presidential candidate Alan Keyes and Democratic South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges also campaigned there.[8]


Bob Jones, Sr., the founder of BJU, was fearful of obtaining academic accreditation for the school. Over the years, as pressure mounted on the institution to give its students the benefits of accredited degrees, the university moved towards membership in the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Accreditation was not obtained until 2005.[9] It became a regionally accredited institution in 2017, receiving accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

College Life

Bob Jones University is well known for its stringent rules it applies to its students, and many of its rules are based on a strict interpretation of the Bible. Pornography, homosexuality and sexual activity outside of marriage are all strictly banned. Students are not allowed to have posters of movie and music stars and fashion models in their dorms or watch films or listen to New Age, jazz, rock and country music (including Contemporary Christian music).[10] Strict dress codes also apply. Conservative and modest dress styles are required and tattoos, dyed hair and body piercings (with the exception of ear piercings for female students) are all banned.

Political Controversy

In the primary race in 2000, George W. Bush campaigned at BJU, where he stated "I look forward to publicly defending our conservative philosophy." [11] His Republican rival, John McCain, used the visit against Bush in a telephone calling campaign that turned out Catholic voters for the Senator. The McCain ad stated "Governor George Bush has campaigned against Sen. John McCain by seeking the support of southern fundamentalists who express anti-Catholic views." McCain said the calls didn't accuse Bush of bigotry, only the people Bush was turning to for support.[12]

Bush reacted to the political distortions by criticizing the attempts at guilt by association. He wrote a letter affirming that he is not a religious bigot and sent it to Cardinal John O'Connor of New York.[13]

Such spats are common in primaries, and McCain subsequently endorsed Bush for president in 2000[14] while Bush endorsed McCain for president in 2008.[15]

Racial Controversy

Bob Jones University did not enroll black students until 1971. Until 1975 only married black students were allowed to enroll. Afterwards it had a policy against interracial dating and marriage, for which the Internal Revenue Service revoked the university's 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in 1976. The University challenged this action, but lost when the Supreme Court upheld the ruling in 1983.[16]

The university announced in 2000 that its policy against interracial dating was no longer being enforced and was officially discarded.[17]

In late 2008, the university issued a statement,[18] apologizing for its earlier policies.

Alumni and honorary degree holders


Asa Hutchinson and his brother, Tim Hutchinson, graduated from BJU in the early '70s.[7] Billy Graham also attended Bob Jones University, although he graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Another alumnus is the prolific hymn writer and composer Ron Hamilton, the creator of the Patch the Pirate Adventures, geared toward reaching children for Jesus Christ.

Edgar Feghaly, a Lebanese-born Baptist missionary to the Muslim world, graduated from Bob Jones in 1980.[19]

Honorary Degree Holders

The Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley, MP, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive, holds an honorary doctorate from Bob Jones University. John D. Ashcroft accepted an honorary degree from BJU in May 1999. Republican senators Jesse Helms (N.C.) and Strom Thurmond (S.C.), along with Republican Representatives Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Asa Hutchinson (Ark.), also received honorary degrees.[7]


  1. Its publishing affiliate, BJU Press, is one of the two major publishers of Christian school/homeschool curricula in the United States.
  2. Bob Jones University. Welcome Homeschool Students
  6. Bob Jones University v. United States (461 U.S. 574, 725)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Washington Post: Bob Jones: A Magnet School for Controversy, University's Policies Haunt GOP Hopefuls, By Juliet Eilperin and Hanna Rosin, Friday, February 25, 2000; Page A06 [1]
  8. Jonesing for votes, George W. Bush's speech at a college that bans interracial dating raises questions about his compassion, by Jake Tapper [2]
  9. Bob Jones University Granted National Accreditation, Greenville, S.C., November 8, 2006 [3]
  11. At Bob Jones U., A Disturbing Lesson About The Real George W., by Derrick Jackson [4]
  12. CBS News: Bush Regrets Bob Jones U. Calls Visit There "A Missed Opportunity" NEW YORK, Feb. 27, 2000 [5]
  13. The letter contained this sentence, which is often quoted out of context to imply that Bush was criticizing evangelicals, when he was not: "On reflection, I should have been more clear in disassociating myself from anti-Catholic sentiments and racial prejudice. It was a missed opportunity, causing needless offense, which I deeply regret." CNN: George W. Bush's Visit to Bob Jones University Continues to Stir up Controversy, aired February 27, 2000 - 8:09 p.m. ET [6]
  14. Boston Globe. MCCAIN'S NEW MESSAGE IN N.H.: ELECT BUSH May 14th, 2000.
  15. Bush Endorses John McCain for President March 5th, 2008
  16. This ruling was upheld, over the objection of the U.S. Solicitor General, in 1983 by the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States in Bob Jones University v. United States. BOB JONES UNIVERSITY v. UNITED STATES, 461 U.S. 574 (1983) [7].
  17. CNN: Bob Jones University ends ban on interracial dating, March 4, 2000 [8]
  18. BJU: Statement about Race at Bob Jones University
  19. Edgar Feghaly, Forward in the Face of Fear: My Life for Christ in the Muslim World (Lancaster, California: Striving Together Publications, 2016, pp. 189.

External links