Before the University of Memphis acquired the campus in 2011, Lambuth University and Lambuth College, before it, had provided a liberal arts education in Jackson, Tennessee for almost one hundred years.  Often multiple generations of families in the area attended and loved this small campus as students. Similarly, many of the faculty and staff who worked on the campus had deep and personal connections to the school, and they, in turn, worked to build close relationships with each other, the students, and the alumni.

Because the space fostered so many deeply personal connections, the conditions that led to the school’s loss of accreditation, bankruptcy, and ultimate closure profoundly impacted those who worked and learned through it.  As faculty and staff prioritized the transfer or graduation of the remaining students, those who could remain sacrificed themselves personally and financially. Many did this at the potential expense of their future careers and intense financial hardship. Even after the University of Memphis acquired the Lambuth campus, there were no guarantees of employment or long-term contracts initially.

This oral history collection seeks to preserve the experiences of those who were impacted by the closure of Lambuth University and the transition of the space to the University of Memphis. As of 2023, a small number of people are employed on the Lambuth campus who were here during the dissolution of Lambuth University. Their narratives comprise the foundation of this collection. Over time, the project will be expanded to include interviews with those who worked at Lambuth University from the 1990s until the closing. Interviews will also be collected from former students who were on campus in the final four years of the university’s existence, including those who transferred to the University of Memphis to complete their degrees. Members of the Lambuth University Board of Trustees, as well as former administrators of the University of Memphis and state and local officials who worked on the transition to the University of Memphis will also be interviewed.


Submissions from 2023


Transition Interview: Dr. Paul Mego, Michele Grigsby Coffey PhD and Addison Faught