Lambuth College in Jackson, Tennessee, opened on May 12, 1924, on a new campus, as a co-educational successor to the Memphis Conference Female Institute. The school was named after Methodist missionary Bishop Walter Russell Lambuth (1854-1921). Dr. Richard E. Womack became the first president and served for 28 years. The Administration Building and Epworth Hall were the first buildings constructed on the campus, followed by the physical education building in 1947 and a physical science building two years later. A two-story barracks was converted into the bookstore, student union and music department. The sports program began under coach Marvin Eagle and included baseball, men's and women's basketball, football, and hiking. Golf and tennis were added later. The college saw its greatest growth under the presidency of Dr. Luther L. Gobbel (1952-1962) when two dormitories, the chapel, a physical education building, library and dining hall were built. Gobbel's successor, James S. Wilder, Jr. (1962-1980) continued to expand the campus with the student union, science building, athletic center and field, along with renovation of the Womack Physical Education Building to house fine arts and the planetarium. Dr. Harry W. Gimer (1980-1987) re-established the football program in 1985 after a 40-year hiatus. Under Dr. Thomas F. Boyd (1987-1997) the college became Lambuth University on July 1, 1991. The Senior Commons Soccer Complex and the Pope Commons were built during these years. W. Ellis Arnold III became president in January 1997. The Administration Building was dedicated as Varnell-Jones Hall in 1998 and Oxley Square was dedicated the following year. Lambuth Theatre was renovated to become the Hamilton Performing Arts Center in 2000. Although Lambuth's enrollment peaked at 1,227 students in 1995, in the years that followed student numbers declined as other institutions of higher learning in Jackson offered competing programs. In the face of increasing financial difficulties, Arnold left Lambuth in 2008 to be replaced by several interim presidents. Dr. Bill Seymour was appointed president in 2009 but he could not save the ailing school and it closed in 2011. In August of that year, the University of Memphis took control of the campus.


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