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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Bob Jones University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Bob Jones University

The Collegian

BJU presidential heritage: shaping campus for 90 years

BJU Photo Services
Dr Steve Pettit. Photo by Hal Cook, 2014

As seen in the Heritage Day video, the path of Bob Jones University has been uniquely sculpted by each of its five presidents.

Dr. Bob Jones Sr., Dr. Bob Jones Jr., Dr. Bob Jones III, Stephen Jones and Steve Pettit each have shaped the University in different ways.

Bob Jones Sr. was born in Alabama in 1883. He accepted Jesus as his Savior when he was 11, began preaching by age 13 and became a licensed Methodist preacher before his 15th birthday.

Jones Sr. founded Bob Jones College in 1927 after finding, while traveling around the U.S as an evangelist, that Christian students in secular universities were struggling with their faith.

He decided to begin an institution that would strive for academic excellence, embrace the arts and teach students to live for Christ.

He became Bob Jones College’s first president and was dedicated to teaching the absolute authority of the Bible while holding high academic standards.

Bob Jones Jr., also born in Alabama, grew up traveling on evangelistic campaigns with his parents.

He was later part of the first graduating class of Bob Jones Academy, graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Bob Jones College and completed his master’s at the University of Pittsburgh.

He joined the BJU faculty as a history teacher and became the president of Bob Jones College at the age of 23.

Jones Jr. was highly involved with acting and the arts. He frequently made an appearance in Bob Jones University plays and films and began the collection of religious art that is now the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

It was during Jones Jr.’s administration that the College moved to Greenville and then became Bob Jones University.

He also expanded the campus, strengthened academics and founded Unusual Films and the Museum & Gallery.

Bob Jones III was born in Cleveland, Tennessee, and graduated from Bob Jones University in 1959.

Like his father, Bob Jones III was heavily involved in film and theater on campus.

During his administration, the FMA was finished, and the Mack Library, Student Center, science building and fine arts center were all expanded.

The Seminary and Davis Field House were also built, and the Academy grew to include an elementary school.

Jones III also founded programs to enable international students to come and study at BJU and then return to their home countries.

Jones created the Timothy Program for international students going into full-time ministry upon their return home and also created the World Fund to help international students in non-ministry majors.

He was awarded the highest civilian award in South Carolina, “The Order of the Palmetto,” by Gov. David Beasley in 1997.

Today, Jones III is the University’s chancellor, chairman of the Board of Directors of the BJU Museum & Gallery and the president of the Gospel Fellowship Association.

Born on campus, Stephen Jones received a bachelor’s  degree in public speaking, a master of divinity and a doctorate in liberal arts studies all from the University.

He inherited the love of plays from his father and grandfather and often took on different roles in University productions with his wife, Erin.

Stephen Jones also expanded the campus by adding the parking garage and Welcome Center and renovated the dining common, front entrance and the Student Center.

He made the campus more inviting to students and the Greenville community.

He also expanded the liberal arts core and restructured many programs to ensure academic excellence.

In addition, Stephen Jones revived intercollegiate sports  and led the move to receive national accreditation through TRACS,  which set BJU on the path toward seeking regional accreditation.

Because Stephen Jones cared deeply about the spiritual growth of his students, he began having yearly chapel themes, prayer group partnerships between students and faculty and strongly encouraged student-to-student accountability partners.

Steve Pettit is the current president of the University and the first president outside of the Jones family.

He accepted this role on May 10, 2014.

Before becoming president, Pettit was a well-known evangelist who led over 800 campaigns in the  U.S. and 20 other countries.

President Pettit accepted Christ as his Saviour during his undergraduate years at The Citadel.

In 1980, he earned his master’s in pastoral studies from BJU.

Before becoming president of Bob Jones University, Pettit served as an assistant youth pastor, a camp director at Northland Camp and Conference Center in Wisconsin, the head of the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Association and national director of Cross Impact Ministries.

Pettit enjoys playing the mandolin and has authored many devotional books.

He has received honorary doctorates from Bob Jones University, Ambassador Baptist College and Northland International University.

Since becoming president, Pettit has expanded the school’s focus on ministry, with the creation of the Center for Global Opportunities, and changed the look of chapel to make it more student friendly with a smaller pulpit and adding colorful displays promoting the theme.

He is also currently working on academic growth in many different areas and has a great fire for discipleship.

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BJU presidential heritage: shaping campus for 90 years