Knoxville College was founded by the United Presbyterian Church of North America in 1875. Its purpose is to promote religious, moral and educational leadership. The school originally opened as a normal school for teachers and wasn’t designated as a college until 1877. There were classes in agriculture, industrial arts, and medicine. Notably, students of the school helped construct most of the buildings on campus, such as Wallace Hall and McMillan Chapel. Since so few Blacks had been prepared for higher education at the time, Knoxville College initially offered classes from first grade through college level. By 1931, the school had become a fully operating liberal arts institution.
Notable Alumni Include: legendary FAMU football coach Jake Gaither; first female president of the National Medical Association, Dr. Edith Irby Jones; and actor Palmer Williams, Jr.