The purpose of this covenant is to define the nature and scope of the relationship mutually agreed to by Tusculum University and Holston Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).


Tusculum College was founded by the Presbyterian Church. A Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Hezekiah Balch, established Greeneville College, which was chartered on September 3, 1794. In 1818, Tusculum Academy was established by another Princeton graduate and Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Samuel Doak. In 1844, Tusculum Academy became Tusculum College. In 1868, the two colleges consolidated on the Tusculum campus under the name of Greeneville and Tusculum College, and, in 1912, the name was officially changed to Tusculum College. Throughout the over two hundred years of its existence, Tusculum University has had a continuing relationship with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and, in particular, with Presbyterian churches in the region which is now known as Holston Presbytery.


Building on a rich Presbyterian heritage and a pioneering spirit, Tusculum University provides an active and experiential education within a caring Christian environment to inspire civic engagement, to enrich personal lives, and to prepare career ready professionals.


Tusculum University takes seriously its heritage as a daughter of the Presbyterian Church. The liberal arts tradition with which the name, Tusculum University, is uniquely associated was formulated by Cicero at his academy in Tusculum, Italy, and brought to East Tennessee by Samuel Doak by the way ofthe University in New Jersey (Princeton University). The tradition emphasizes closeness of faculty-student involvement, both within and without the classroom, in order to cultivate citizenship, Christian character and practical wisdom among members of the University community. That tradition is very much in keeping with the heritage of the emphasis on the formation of strong Christian character as an essential ingredient of citizenship and practical wisdom. Tusculum University is committed to strengthening its relationship with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) so that the University can bring its services to the Church, and the Churches can learn of and benefit from the distinctive mission and education offered by Tusculum University. In the curriculum of Tusculum University and through opportunities for worship and service, the University’s Presbyterian heritage will be highlighted. Specific examples are included in the section on “Responsibilities Under the Covenant.” Religious studies occupy a central place in the general studies curriculum, in order for students to study the religious and biblical heritage of the country in the context of larger issues of humankind. Tusculum desires its heritage as a Presbyterian University to be woven throughout all that the University does, not just through a prescribed set of courses that every student is required to take. Tusculum University seeks to instill in its graduates a sense of the world in which they live and to develop skills to make sound decisions that are based on the common good. In short, Tusculum wants to graduate students who not only do well, but do good. An important part of Tusculum University’s educational mission is to recruit a fertile mix of students from different ethnic, national, racial, cultural, religious, and geographical backgrounds. Leaming from fellow students resulting from such a campus-cultural mix is an essential part of fostering an emphasis on practical wisdom. Active discussion of different perspectives on life resulting from varied cultural experiences enhances each student’s maturation and understanding of the world culture in which they live. Such diversity of student background should be actively used to emich the educational environment of the University.


The Parties of this covenant, Tusculum University of Greeneville, Tennessee, operating under its governing board, the Board of Trustees, and Holston Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) operating as a governing body, are separate entities. They are independent, neither being controlled by the other. They are, however, interdependent in that they must work together to accomplish their common purposes.


Tusculum University affirms its commitment to:

  • offer a program of quality education in the liberal arts and sciences with the concept of the wholeness of life as interpreted by the Christian faith;

-conduct an educational program in which a large majority of the faculty are Christians, while insisting on freedom of inquiry for the faculty and students;

-create a campus climate in which the Christian faith is reasonably and persuasively presented without undue pressure for acceptance;

-maintain a campus minister and a set of course offerings in religion;

-through the Commons courses in the Civic Arts curriculum and the competency requirements for graduation, require religious studies of all students;

  • offer weekly opportunities for corporate worship for the entire campus community;

-provide opportunities for the exploration of the relationship between religion and other facets of life, while preparing students for Christian service in all walks of life;

-establish standards of excellence and maintain accreditation by appropriate academic associations and agencies;

-share in the development of professional and lay leadership for the Church;

-serve as a host for church governing bodies, congregations, and their agencies, providing leadership and facilities for conferences, retreats, workshops, and training sessions for Church groups and offer services to the Church such as supply ministers and special programs of music and drama;

  • provide opportunities for continuing education for Presbyterian ministers;

-to refer to its Presbyterian heritage in its literature;

-use University educational resources to emich the churches (such as Stokes Theologian-In-Residence program);

-effectively recruit persons of racial and ethnic diversity to serve on the Board of Trustees, administration, faculty and support staff as well as in the student body;

-demonstrate active concern for social justice and human mercy among the entire campus community, fostering a keen spirit of volunteerism;

-maintain Christian governance and leadership by maintaining the practice that a large majority of trustees and administrators be Christians;

  • make an effort to insure that the President of Tusculum University be a


Holston Presbytery affirms it’s commitments to:

-undergird the University spiritually by praying for its trustees, administrators, faculty, students, and friends;

-promote understanding ofthe educational opportunities offered at the University through Presbytery publications and communications;

-promote attendance at the University by encouraging youth in the Presbytery to consider enrolling as students;

-offer a source ofministers and laity as speakers for regularly scheduled chapel services, retreats, and conferences at the University;

-encourage churches in the Presbytery to consider holding some oftheir conferences, retreats, meetings, and training events in the University facilities periodically;

-encourage individuals and congregations within the bound? ofthe Presbytery to provide financial support to the University;

-provide annually for the receiving ofa report from the University, with such details as may prove useful for purposes ofpromotion and funding support;

-publish an Annual Report ofthe University in the Minutes ofPresbytery


Realizing the importance of its relationship with the Presbyterian Church, the Board of Trustees of Tusculum University commits itself to:

-maintain a standing committee ofthe Board ofTrustees which addresses church relations and has the responsibility ofreviewing and developing the University’s relationship with the Church;

– ensure that at least one member ofthe trustees be a Presbyterian.

-ensure the University maintains a standing committee which addresses church relations, campus ministries, and strengthening the relationship between the University and the Church

Accountability and Communication

Both parties agree to provide regular and formal channels of communication to ensure accountability and to address issues of mutual interest and concern.

Tusculum will provide Presbytery with a report ofthe campus ministry program and activities ofthe University in its Annual Report to Presbytery and other significant documents.

ThePresbytery will provideTusculumwith copies ofits Minutes ofPresbyterymeetingsandother significant documents.

The Presbytery through its General Mission Board and the University through the Sub-Committee on Church Relations ofits Board ofTrustees will review the covenant annually, beginning in 2024.

The text of this covenant shall be printed in the Minutes of Holston Presbytery, and references made to it in appropriate publications of the Presbytery which highlight its institutions and agencies.

This Covenantbetween Holston Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Tusculum University shall be posted on the Tusculum University website and made available to members of the administration, faculty, staff, and to other constituencies as deemed appropriate

.The President of the University shall be responsible for seeing that all provisions of this covenant regarding the institution’s responsibilities are presented to the Board of Trustees.

The Stated Clerk of Holston Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shall be responsible for seeing that all provisions of this covenant regarding the Church’s responsibilities are fulfilled.

The University shall inform the Presbytery of its other formal covenant relationships with other Presbyterian church bodies. Currently, the University has a covenant with the Synod of Living Waters, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Presbytery of East Tennessee, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Review and Amendment of the Covenant

A comprehensive review of this C venant shall be reviewed every five years by members of the Holston Presbytery and Tusculum University. It is expected that the President of the University and the Executive Presbyter of Holston Presbytery or equivalent will be involved in such reviews.

This Covenant may be amended or renewed by action of the Board of Trustees of Tusculum University and Holston Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


This Covenant shall be effective upon formal approval by the Board of Trustees of Tusculum University and by Holston Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and signed by the Moderator and Stated Clerk of the Presbytery, by the Chairman and Secretary of the University’s Board of Trustees, and the President of the University. This-Covenant recognizes that Tusculum University may develop other covenant relationships with other governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or with other church bodies with which our denomination is in correspondence.


October 13, 2023