After nearly 70 years in Chattanooga's Highland Park, Tennessee Temple University is closing its doors.


University board members voted unanimously Tuesday to move campuses and merge with Piedmont International University, a private Christian college in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The merger will be finalized April 30th, giving students, faculty and staff a few months to decide on what to do next.

"We needed a new campus that was sufficient for the 21st century," said TTU President Steve Echols, "So that was the decision. There was no way we were going to be able to go back."


Echols says time was running out for Tennessee Temple. The school needed to pay off debt and needed a new campus, so Echols says the best solution is moving to the Winston-Salem campus of Piedmont International University.

"I think it's going to be a good transition for all of us," said student Kayla Phillips, "They made it easy for all of us to kind of slide on in to this other school."


The roughly 700 students (265 on-campus and the rest online students) now have a few options. They can move with the school to PIU with the promise that no student will have to pay any more in tuition than they already are.

But not all TTU majors will be offered at Piedmont, and not all student-athletes will be able to continue their sport.

"No I probably won't go to Winston-Salem," said student-athlete Caleb Lee, "I'll probably find another school either somewhere in this state or North Carolina because that's where I'm from."


Students have the option to stay local and finish their degrees at Shorter University in Rome, GA or Bryan College in Dayton, TN and promises an unaffected graduation date if relocated.


Students can also enroll in classes online or transfer completely.

"In one sense it kind of opens up new opportunities but at the same sense it is kind of saddening," Lee said, "Because a lot of these kids I'll probably never see again you know."


About half of the faculty and staff were offered contracts to move with the school to PIU, the rest will be out of a job.

"There will not be the opportunity for everyone to go," Echols said, "Part of a merger is you're removing duplication."

New plans for the TTU campus space have already been finalized. All buildings were sold to the ministry organization Redemption to the Nations, with plans to establish a Bible college next year.

Echols sited a number of reasons for why the previous plan, to move to the Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, no longer worked for the university. A number of contracts to dorms and building  properties fell through, worth more than $3 million to the school, plus anticipated donations did not materialize. The school says relocating to Woodland Park was no longer a financially feasible option.

Woodland Park released a statement saying in part, "We looked forward to the possibilities of having TTU as neighbors and partners, but we understand the fiscal realities that led to the merge with Piedmont. We are thankful for the relationships formed, and wish the faculty and students well in the days ahead."