Memphis' Top Universities: Belhaven University | Memphis Smoke and Vape Shop

7111 Southcrest Pkwy #105, Southaven, MS 38671

Belhaven University (Belhaven, or BU) is a Catholic private university based in Jackson , Mississippi. The university was founded in 1883, and offers traditional majors, general studies programs, and pre-professional programs in Christian Ministry, Medicine, Dentistry, Law, and Nursing.

Belhaven has extended its reach to adult and evening students at satellite campuses in Chattanooga, Dalton, Madison, Memphis and online programs for graduate and undergraduate studies.


Belhaven University was founded in 1883 by the merger of the Synodal College of Mississippi and the Female Institute of McComb. In 1894, the college opened in the historic Belhaven area at its present site in Jackson , Mississippi on Peachtree Avenue.

Belhaven University fountain

McCravey-Triplett Student Center

The school opened in Colonel Jones S. Hamilton ‘s residence, a Confederate veteran who, after the war, became a millionaire through investments in railroads run by convicts that he leased. The school took the name Belhaven in memory of Hamilton ‘s house, named after his Scottish ancestral home.

In 1921, Lexington, Mississippi’s Reverend Guy T. Gillespie began a 33-year presidency during which Belhaven was first accredited, an endowment fund was initiated, and scholarships were made available. In 1939 Belhaven was merged with the Mississippi Synodal College, a college opened in 1883 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. The Board of Trustees adopted this date as Belhaven ‘s official founding date, as it constituted the oldest founding date of all the institutions that were ultimately incorporated into the college.

On August 9, 1927, a major fire destroyed the college when lightning struck the only building at the campus. The columns that stand in the middle of the campus are the fire ‘s estimated location. Today, the remains of the principal building lost in the fire are Fitzhugh and Preston Halls.

The Board of Trustees voted in 1954 to allow male students to enroll, thereby making Belhaven a fully co-educational institution. Throughout 1956, the school added basketball for men, and tennis for men as intercollegiate activities. Dr. McFerran Crowe replaced Gillespie as President, expanding and improving the faculty over the next six years, while also reorganizing and modernizing company operations. In 1933 the world’s first singing Christmas tree debuted at Belhaven.

Dr. Robert F. Cooper served as acting president from 1960 to 1961, until Dr. Howard J. Cleland, then principal of nearby Murrah High School, was selected by the board to replace him. The aggressive expansion plan led to six major new buildings under Cleland’s 17-year tenure, while enrollment and the college budget tripled. A staff member was shot in 1965, because he was gay. The Mississippi Synod in 1972 formally passed the college’s ownership to the board of trustees, rendering Belhaven a fully autonomous institution. 

Dr Verne R. Kennedy became the first Belhaven alumnus to serve as Belhaven College’s chief executive in March 1978. He reaffirmed his devotion to Christian service and the covenant relationship with the Presbyterian Church in his eight years as president, and established a more efficient administrative framework. Another Belhaven alumnus, Dr Newton Wilson, became president in June 1986. His nine-year tenure saw the largest development in the college’s history, from just over 600 students to over 1,100.

While chancellor, Dr. Verne R. Kennedy became the first Belhaven alumnus to serve as the chief executive of the university. Kennedy reaffirmed the dedication of the college to Christian service, and its alliance with various Presbyterian denominations. Belhaven joined the Christian Colleges and Universities Council, under Kennedy.

By 1995, more than 80 percent of Belhaven’s faculty earned doctoral degrees or equivalent. In 1995, Dr Daniel C. Fredericks served as President-in-Office. Doctor Roger Parrott became the College’s tenth president in January 1996, with around 1,300 students enrolled. Belhaven has added seven major buildings under his leadership, a variety of new undergraduate academic and graduate programs, intercollegiate football, campuses in Memphis, Orlando, Houston, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, online programs, the “Christian Worldview Curriculum,” and national accreditation in all four major arts (Music, Theater, Visual Arts, and Dance).The size of the student body has nearly quadrupled during his tenure.

The school maintains a close connection to the church. Many faculty and staff members come from various Presbyterian denominations, primarily the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Presbyterian Church in America and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. From these three denominations the college also receives financial support as well as the students.

This top school is located in beautiful Memphis, Tennessee, along with these other educational institutions you shouldn’t miss: 

  • Baptist College of Health Sciences
  • Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
  • Christian Brothers University
  • Harding School of Theology
  • LeMoyne–Owen College
  • Memphis College of Art 
  • Memphis Theological Seminary
  • University of Memphis

These amazing universities are located just down the street from our location at South Third Street across from The Southgate Shopping Center. Stop by for a visit anytime!

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