Lenoir–Rhyne University is a private Lutheran university based in Hickory, North Carolina. Founded in 1891, the University is a member of the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). There are more than 60 student clubs and organizations on campus. For the first three years, undergraduate students are required to live on campus. Living on campus offers students the opportunity to improve their academic experience through engagement with peers, easy access to student clubs and organizations, and other opportunities for experiential and service learning.
The University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for the award of Bachelor's and Master's degrees. In the fall of 2018, LRU launched its first doctoral program, the Family Nurse Practitioner / Doctor of Nursing Practice (FNP / DNP). Overall, Lenoir –Rhyne University has more than 50 undergraduate majors and almost 30 graduate programs.
Lenoir–Rhyne field 20 intercollegiate teams and participate in National Collegiate Athletics Division II (NCAA Division II) as a member of the South Atlantic Conference. The nickname of the school is Bears; its mascots are Joe and Josie Bear. The school's swimming teams played at the Bluegrass Mountain Swimming Conference, and the men's lacrosse team was a member of the Deep South Lacrosse Conference until the conference was disbanded in 2013. Men's and women's track & field teams and women's lacrosse teams participate as NCAA Division II Independents.
Since participating in the NCAA, the university was a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The LRU soccer team won the NAIA National Championship in 1960 and made three visits to the title game in four years. In 2013, the Lenoir Rhyne Football Team took part in the 2013 NCAA Division II Football Championship. In 1980, the Bears Women's Basketball Team reached the NAIA Final Four, while the men's basketball team made it to the NAIA Elite Eight in 1992.
Previously, the Lenoir–Rhyne Softball Team has seen six consecutive trips to the NCAA Division II Playoffs and reached the 2010 and 2011 Southeast Region Finals. The Bears Women's Soccer Team also advanced to the Elite Eight Division II of the NCAA in 2010 after the most successful season of the program to date. LRU's men's and women's basketball teams have both entered NCAA Division II postseason play several times in the 2000s, with Bear Women hosting the Southeast Region Tournament in 2009.
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