Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a private four-year co-educational liberal arts college located in Harrogate, Tennessee, United States. LMU’s 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) campus borders on Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. As a whole, LMU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). In December 2014, the law school received provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association.
LMU’s Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum houses a large collection of memorabilia relating to the school’s namesake, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War. The collection was initially formed from donations by the school’s early benefactor, General Oliver O. Howard, and his friends.
As of fall 2017, it has 1,919 undergraduate, and 2,851 graduate and professional students.
In the 1880s, an entrepreneur named Alexander Arthur (1846–1912) and several associates established a firm called American Association, Ltd., the primary purpose of which was to develop the iron ore and coal resources of the Cumberland Gap area. Arthur founded Middlesboro, Kentucky for the company’s employees and furnaces, and constructed a railroad line connecting Middlesboro with Knoxville, Tennessee. Arthur believed Middlesboro would grow into a large industrial city, the so-called “Pittsburgh of the South.” In 1888, he founded the city of Harrogate, which he envisioned would someday be a suburb for Middlesboro’s elite.
Arthur and American Association spent some two million dollars developing Harrogate, the jewel of which was the Four Seasons Hotel, a 700-room structure believed to have been the largest hotel in the U.S. at the time. The hotel included a lavish dining hall, a casino, and a separate sanitarium. The economic panic of the early 1890s and the subsequent collapse of Arthur’s London financial backers doomed American Associates and the Four Seasons was sold and dismantled.
In 1896, General Oliver O. Howard, a former Union officer who had helped establish Howard University (named for him), embarked on a lecture tour. Howard’s agent, Cyrus Kehr, suggested Howard establish a university as a living memorial to President Abraham Lincoln. On June 18, 1896, Howard spoke at the Harrow School, an elementary school at Cumberland Gap founded a few years earlier by Reverend A. A. Myers. After the lecture, Myers asked Howard for assistance in establishing a college for the Cumberland Gap region. Howard related to Myers a conversation he had with Lincoln in 1863 in which the president expressed a desire to do something to help the people of East Tennessee, a majority of whom remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War in spite of the greater state’s secession, and, remembering Kehr’s suggestion, agreed to help Myers establish a university in Lincoln’s honor.
Though many classes and research facilities are located within the Hamilton Math and Science Building, completed in 2012, on the main LMU campus, the College of Veterinary Medicine is actually located 12 miles from Harrogate in Ewing, Virginia. The DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center (DVTC) is housed on 700 acres, provides extensive hands-on experience and educational opportunities with a wide variety of species. The Large Animal Component of the DVTC provides a “working farm” environment with a large herd of cattle, and provides a “hands-on” education site where anatomy, clinical, and surgical skills are taught for dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and sheep.
The initial plans to open Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) began in 2004. Autry O.V. Pete DeBusk, the Chairman of the LMU Board of Trustees and LMU alumnus, was interested in starting a college of osteopathic medicine at LMU. After conducting a year-long feasibility study, LMU announced it was pursuing the development of a college of osteopathic medicine and named Ray Stowers, D.O., F.A.C.O.F.P., a rural family physician, as vice president and dean. The college was named DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in honor of its initiator. The four-story, 105,000-square-foot (9,800 m2) building was opened to its inaugural class of osteopathic medical students on August 1, 2007.
The Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine offers two degrees, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, and a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. The college is accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) and the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
n the spring of 2008, Lincoln Memorial University announced plans to seek approval to offer legal education leading to the Juris Doctor degree. The law school, named in honor of Tennessee Congressman John James Duncan, Jr., is located in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee in the building commonly referred to as “Old City Hall.” The entering class of the Fall 2011 full-time program had an average LSAT score of 147 while the part-time program had an average LSAT score of 145. These scores represent 33rd and 26th percentile of all LSAT test takers. The average GPA for the entering class of 2011 is 3.01 for the full-time program and 2.99 for the part-time program.
In February 2009, the law school received approval from the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, which allows Duncan School of Law graduates to apply to take the Tennessee Bar Examination. LMU’s law school has 231 students. In December 2011, the American Bar Association refused the school’s application for provisional accreditation. In reaction, the Duncan School sued the ABA, alleging that the ABA was using accreditation to limit the production of new lawyers, thus violating federal antitrust laws. In January 2012, after a judge denied the school’s requests for an injunction and temporary restraining order against the ABA, the school filed an appeal with the ABA. As a result of the ABA’s denial of provisional accreditation, numerous students withdrew or sought to transfer from Duncan School of Law.
In February 2012, Duncan School of Law was sued by a former student for “negligent enrollment.” The case was dismissed in 2013.
LMU-DSOL received provisional accreditation in 2014. That same year, graduates who sat for the July 2014 administration of the Tennessee bar exam posted a 77.14% pass rate for first-time takers – five percentage points higher than the national rate and only one of three Tennessee law schools that performed better than the national pass rate for first-time takers . In total 91% of all LMU-DSOL graduates who have sat for the exam have passed.
in 2015, DSOL graduates reported a 96% overall employment rate, the highest of all Tennessee law schools; this ranks DSOL15th in the nation for overall employment.
In 2016, Duncan School of Law posted the highest first-time pass rate in school history. With a first-time pass rate of 87.5 percent, LMU Law beat the state average of 73.23 percent for first-time bar takers. Three out of the four re-examines from LMU Law, or 75 percent, also passed the July 2016 examination. LMU Law’s first-time pass rate, re-examination pass rate, and overall pass rate of 85 percent were each the second-highest among all Tennessee law schools. Since the law school graduated its first class in May 2013, 93 percent of LMU Law graduates who have taken a bar exam have passed it.
LMU-DSOL was also included in Prelaw Magazine’s “Best Value Law Schools” ranking of private schools for 2016. The National Jurist used graduate employment rates, bar pass percentage, and a true tuition figure to identify the best value private schools. It did this by subtracting the school’s estimated average scholarship from tuition. Only twelve schools made the list of best value private law schools for the entire country.