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From Manners to Ministry

BMC Looking Back: The History of Blue Mountain College

In the 145 years that Blue Mountain College has been in operation, the school has gone through a great many changes. While its mission to raise up scholars strong in the Lord has not wavered, the makeup of the student body has changed immensely.

Upon its founding, General Lowrey desired Blue Mountain College to be a facility for young women who sought higher education. Nineteenth Century America did not have a lot to offer in the way of education for women. Most, if not all, were not allowed to attend a normal university. If they wanted to learn, they could sit in while the classes were taught, but they could not enroll or earn a degree. That was where General Lowrey and Blue Mountain College came in.

The first attendees of Blue Mountain College, then called Blue Mountain Female Institute, were taught as both scholars and proper ladies. On top of providing these women with an education to aid them later in life, General Lowrey and his faculty educated the students in proper etiquette. This way, the women who left Blue Mountain with their degrees were both educated in the fields of knowledge and politeness.

Then, in 1956, when BMC changed ownership, The Mississippi Baptist Convention allowed men to come in as ministerial students. Previous to an official invitation, however, men would sit in the back of the classroom and listen to the lecture. Just like the women at other universities, the men were not allowed to officially enroll. The Convention extended this invitation because these young men needed a school where they could get a basic college education before leaving for seminary.

When the ministerial students came, that marked a shift on the campus that would change the landscape of the college forever. Unfortunately, the introduction of men to a women’s school did not come without concerns. “The big thing was that the male students would have a negative influence on the women’s morals and conduct,” says seasoned faculty member Dr. Ronald Meeks. The school had strict conditions for the conduct between male and female students. There were separate dining halls, separate activities, and even separate stairwells. Even during lectures and Chapel, the men had to sit in the back of the classroom to avoid being a distraction to the women. This was done in the hopes that any “incidents” would be avoided. As the years went on, though, men were permitted to sit where they liked in the classroom and even share stairwells with the women.

For all the bad that may have come from allowing the school to become co-ed, it was the first step in paving the way for the facilities that we have today. “By having students from a more diverse population,” comments Meeks, “our mission here at Blue Mountain has enhanced.” No one would ever change what happened in the past, because it has created a bright future.

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