*This piece was originally written by Jenny Manasco and uses So Great A Cloud Of Witnesses as a resource.
Union University stems from several different colleges which originated in the early 19th century and eventually merged into the Union University found in Jackson, Tennessee today. Jackson Male Academy was the first of these predecessors and was founded in 1825, but was transformed after just two decades into West Tennessee College.
A school with history similar to that of West Tennessee College was founded in Murfreesboro and named Union University. West Tennessee College and Union University Murfreesboro both experienced repercussions from the Civil War and had to recover in the following years. Union University Murfreesboro, which suffered greater war time losses, eventually closed for good following a typhoid epidemic in 1873.
Around the same time, Tennessee Baptists were looking for a location to establish a college that would serve as a unifying force across the state. Jackson was chosen as the location and the land and endowment of West Tennessee College was transferred to Southwestern Baptist University. Many of the early faculty had relocated from Murfreesboro, having served in the final years of Union University. Hence, Southwestern was the “union” of West Tennessee College and Union University Murfreesboro, and the name was officially changed to Union University in 1907.
Union University has progressed over the last one hundred years, continuing in the Christian tradition under which it began, and has become a university recognized throughout the nation today.
Baggett, James Alex. So Great a Cloud of Witnesses. Union University Press, 2000, 1-5.