Asbury University is an independent, non-denominational liberal arts university in the city of Wilmore, Kentucky. It is a member of the Christian College Consortium and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
The Reverend John Wesley Hughes founded the Kentucky Holiness College, a ‘real salvation school’ in 1890. Its founders believed it to be the ‘first holiness college started in the US’. It was soon renamed Asbury College, in honour of Methodist preacher and educator Bishop Francis Asbury.
The college expanded rapidly under the presidency of Z. T. Johnson – from 1940-1966. It acquired many new buildings, doubled its enrolment numbers, and moved to complete racial integration in 1962.
It became Asbury University in 2010.
Asbury University offers primarily four-year courses, heavily focused on the liberal arts. There are approximately 50 undergraduate and graduate programs available across its College of Arts and Sciences, School of Communication, School of Education and School of Graduate & Professional Studies. Most programs involve some form of education outside the classroom, such as through internships, missions, exchange programs, study abroad programs and work in the local community. University leaders are planning an expansion of its graduate programs.
The university remains rooted in the tradition of Wesleyan-Holiness promoted by its founders; central to this is the belief that experiencing an act of God’s grace can transform a Christian. Students today are expected to live up to these standards: ‘University life is shaped by the Wesleyan understanding of sin, grace, and the possibility of full salvation for Christ-like living.’ Asbury University is currently enacting its ‘Cornerstone Project’ – based on the four cornerstones of scripture, holiness, stewardship and mission. This is aimed towards bolstering the spirituality of the university
Many of Asbury University’s notable alumni are high-profile clergy and missionaries.