Emmanuel University first opened on January 1, 1919, under the name of Franklin Springs Institute. The founder of the school was the Reverend George Floyd Taylor, a North Carolinian who had long desired to begin such an institution. For over a century the campus had been used as a health resort centered around several mineral springs. G. F. Taylor was president from 1919-1926 and again from 1929-1931. During 1926-1929, two men served briefly as president, first, Reverend A. M. Taylor and then Reverend B. A. Jones. Because of the Great Depression, the school closed temporarily in 1931.
In 1933 the school was reopened as a high school and junior college, with the Reverend Thomas Lee Aaron as president. Under President Aaron’s leadership, the school gradually progressed from a small community school to a modern, influential junior college. In 1939, the name of the institution was changed to Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.” Upon Reverend Aaron’s death in January 1951, Mr. Woodard Glenn Drum, former dean of the college, became president.
The administration of President Drum saw the completion of the present campus quadrangle, the recruitment of an excellent faculty, and the achievement of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in 1967. The high school department, which had earlier been accredited by the Southern Association, was discontinued in 1963. With the retirement of President Drum in January 1970, Dr. Culbreth Young Melton became the sixth president of the institution.
Under Dr. Melton’s administration a four-year School of Christian Ministries was established and accredited by the American Association of Bible Colleges. A new Learning Resources Center was constructed, and the overall quality of the institution was improved. Upon Dr. Melton’s retirement, Dr. David Roger Hopkins became the seventh president in June 1983.
Many campus improvements are credited to Dr. Hopkins’ leadership, including construction of two new residence halls and the Wellons Science Resources Center, as well as the acquisition and renovation of John W. Swails Convocation Center. Major changes in curricular offerings also accompanied accreditation as a four-year institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Upon Dr. Hopkins’ retirement in 2005, the Rev. Michael S. Stewart was inaugurated as the eighth president of Emmanuel College. During his administration, significant efforts were made to enhance the campus by expanding academic and athletic programs and by improving the quality of campus life through new residence halls and athletic facilities.
In October 2014, Dr. Ronald G. White became the ninth president of Emmanuel College after being named interim president only a month before. A 1969 graduate of Emmanuel, President White previously worked at the college in several roles from 1980 to 2002 including Director of Financial Aid, Dean of Students and Dean of Enrollment Management.
On July 10, 2023, Emmanuel College officially became Emmanuel University, marking a new chapter in Emmanuel’s commitment to academic excellence and holistic education. The addition of graduate level programs, which led to the name change, has improved Emmanuel’s capacity to fulfill our mission. Traditional undergraduate and online programs were also expanded.
At the foundation of the many changes and progress over the years remains the paramount emphasis on Christ-centered values. The lives of EU alumni speak of the quality of the academic opportunities they have received. Through its program of Christian higher education, Emmanuel University has provided students with academic and spiritual values that will enrich their lives and lead them to enrich the lives of others.