In a historic move to preserve the rich history of two Baptist colleges, the trustees of Tennessee Temple University (TTU) unanimously voted to approve a merger of the Chattanooga university with Piedmont International University (PIU) in North Carolina. 

The merger will officially take place on April 30, 2015, pending the approval of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools which is the accrediting body for both universities. The merger will signal the conclusion of Tennessee Temple's previous efforts to relocate to the site of Woodland Park Baptist Church. 

Since 2013, Tennessee Temple University has planned to move locations to the site of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga. However, the school encountered several factors that hindered or delayed the relocation process. 

The current Tennessee Temple campus has been sold to Redemption to the Nations, a ministry organization which has plans to establish a Bible college. While TTU has lease options that would allow the university to remain on its Chattanooga campus for another year, Echols indicated staying would not be financially wise.  

“Understandably, the news will initially be very difficult for our students, faculty and staff, but ultimately we believe the merge will result in a healthier, stronger institution,” said Echols. “During this time, we will do everything we can to make the merge as seamless as possible.”

Following the transition, Echols reports Tennessee Temple's online students should expect decreases in their tuition rates with minimal interruptions due to the merge. TTU's online education program will be transferred in its entirety to PIU. Likewise, the school's residential students who move to the Winston-Salem campus will experience a drop in tuition and other fees of more than 25 percent. 

Residential students who choose not to move to Winston-Salem may complete their degrees online through PIU, with the same discount. They also will have opportunities to complete their degrees at a comparable cost—and with an unaffected graduation date— at either Shorter University in Rome, GA or Bryan College in Dayton, TN. Echols expressed deep appreciation to these institutions for graciously extending this offer to TTU students. 

A portion of Tennessee Temple's current faculty and staff will be employed by Piedmont International University.  Echols hopes that the early announcement will allow remaining faculty and staff sufficient time to find other positions.