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Mon, 01.13.1913

Jarvis Christian College Begins Classes

*Jarvis Christian College opened on this date in 1913.  This is a private, four-year, Historically Black College (HBCU), fully accredited, co-educational liberal arts institution.  

Located in Hawkins, Texas, since its founding in 1912, Jarvis Christian College has been a source of hope for those who want a quality liberal arts education, professional preparation, guidance in Christian living, and, most of all, a bachelor’s degree.  Although formal instructional programs at Jarvis began in 1913, with an enrollment of twelve students, all in the elementary grades, the school began as early as 1904, when the Negro Disciples of Christ of Texas began to plan for a school for Black youths.

Major James Jarvis and his wife Ida Van Zandt Jarvis donated the land upon which the school could be built; the family deeded 456 acres to the Christian Women's Board of Missions on the condition it is maintained as a school for Blacks. Jarvis opened its doors as Jarvis Christian Institute, modeled after the Southern Christian Institute located west of Jackson in Edwards, Mississippi. 

Jarvis is the only historically black college that remains of the twelve founded by the Disciples of Christ Church.  Jarvis' first students were educated in the remains of an old logging camp and later in a cabin that became the school's first multi-purpose building.  Thomas Buchanan Frost came to the school as superintendent in 1912. Charles Albert Berry joined him as the principal. In 1914, James Nelson Ervin became the first president of Jarvis and served in that capacity until 1938.

During the first year of Ervin's tenure, high school classes were added to the curriculum. It became one of the few places at the time where Blacks in East Texas could complete high school education. Some college work was offered as early as 1916.  The executive committee of the National Women's Board voted in 1915 to appropriate $1,000 for a sawmill purchased and installed on campus. The sawmill was operated from the 1920s through the 1940s by male students in the summer. They cut wood for structures on campus and to fire furnaces and stoves used during winter months around campus.

Most of the buildings on the Jarvis Campus built during the 1920s-1940s were made with wood from this mill. Most of those buildings burned.  Jarvis Christian athletic teams, nicknamed the Bulldogs, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). Men's sports include Golf, Basketball, Baseball, Track/Field, Bowling, Soccer, and Cross Country, While women's sports include Track/Field, Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer, Bowling, and Cross Country. Jarvis Christian has appeared in the NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament three times: 2003, 2008, and 2009. Jarvis Christian College’s Marching Band program was established in 2015 as the Sophisticated Sounds of Soul, aka S3. Under the direction of Dr. Rodney D. Chism, the S3 has performed around a number of local, state, regional, and national venues. The band still thriving and reaching heights. 

Jarvis houses a regional collection of biological specimens in its 10,000-square-foot Frost Hall. The collections are concentrated on the herbarium and entomology collections but also house minor holdings in other natural history areas of study and materials related to natural history or land-use history.  In May 2017, it was announced that Jarvis Christian College will open a satellite campus in Dallas at the Southwest Center Mall beginning in August 2017. Courses available include criminal justice, business management, religion, data analytics, and cybersecurity.  Jarvis Christian College is a dynamic college nestled in the beautiful piney woods of East Texas.  Jarvis is approximately 100 miles east of Dallas, Texas, and 100 miles west of Shreveport, Louisiana. 



Black American Colleges and Universities:
Profiles of Two-Year, Four-Year, & Professional Schools
by Levin Hill, Pub., Gale Group, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-864984-2

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