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Lees–McRae College

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Title: Lees–McRae College  
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Language: English
Subject: Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, Belmont Abbey College, Charlotte Christian College and Theological Seminary, Southeastern Free Will Baptist College, Cook School for Christian Leadership
Collection: Buildings and Structures in Avery County, North Carolina, Conference Carolinas Schools, Council of Independent Colleges, Education in Avery County, North Carolina, Educational Institutions Established in 1900, Liberal Arts Colleges in North Carolina, Presbyterian Universities and Colleges in the United States, Universities and Colleges Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Universities and Colleges in North Carolina
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Lees–McRae College

Lees-McRae College
Motto In Montibus, Ex Montibus, Pro Montibus (Latin: In the Mountains, Of the Mountains, For the Mountains)
Established 1900
Type private, coeducational, undergraduate
Religious affiliation Presbyterian Church (USA)
Endowment $19.3 million[1]
President Dr. Barry Buxton
Provost Dr. Kacy Crabtree
Academic staff 56[1]
Students 882
Location Banner Elk, North Carolina,
United States
Campus Rural, 400 acres (1.619 km²)
Colors Green and Gold [2]
Athletics NCAA Division II
Mascot Bobcat

Lees–McRae College is a private four-year college in Banner Elk, North Carolina affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Lees–McRae College has the highest elevation of any college or university in the United States east of the Mississippi River[3] at 3,720 feet (1,130 m) above sea level.[4] It is one of the few colleges to be named after two women, Suzanna Lees and Elizabeth McRae. In 2005, Lees-McRae became the first expansion site for New Opportunity School for Women, a program that helps educate and employ women in Appalachia.[5]


  • History 1
  • Campus 2
  • Housing 3
  • Organization 4
  • Sports, clubs, and traditions 5
    • Athletics 5.1
  • Noted alumni 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Lees–McRae College was founded in Banner Elk as an all-female high school in 1899 by Reverend Edgar Tufts, a Presbyterian minister. He named the school The Elizabeth McRae Institute after a well-respected educator in 1900. School benefactor Suzanna Lees' name was added in 1903 and the school's name became the Lees-McRae Institute when the school was chartered by the state in 1907.

An all-male branch was founded during 1907 in Plumtree, North Carolina. The Plumtree facility was destroyed in a 1927 fire, leading the two campuses to merge at the Banner Elk site. After the merge, the high school program was phased out and the institute was renamed in 1931 to Lees–McRae College, an accredited, coeducational junior college.

Lees-McRae began moving toward offering a four-year program in the late 1980s and the school's president made the recommendation to the board of trustees in 1987.[6] The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted Lees-McRae status as a four-year college in 1990.


Landmarks on campus include the historic Rock House, built in 1920 of native stone; Tufts Tower, a former water tower that houses the campus chimes; and the North Carolina Building, completed in 1922 and one of three permanent buildings planned by the college's founder. Also, there is Tate Dorm which was originally the town hospital. There are other campus images in the gallery below.

The College's Bookstore, named The Exchange, accepted chickens, pigs, grain, other crops and livestock in exchange for education costs in the early years of the college's history.

In 2003, the college saw its first major construction in 20 years with the opening of the Arthur-Lauritsen-Sanders Track and Field Venue.[7] In 2008, the William Reynolds Gymnasium, originally built in 1938 with the aid of students, was renovated as part of the new Carol and Glenn Arthur Student Recreation Complex.


There are several residence halls at Lees–McRae College that provide multiple college living experiences; many of the housing options are even pet-friendly. Tennessee and Virginia halls were constructed from stones from those states.

  • Avery
  • Tate
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Bentley
  • Baldwin
  • McMillan
  • Cannon Cottage (Honors Program)
  • The Village
  • Bobcat Way Houses


The college has seven academic divisions: Business Administration, Creative and Fine Arts, Education, Humanities, Nursing and Allied Health, Science and Mathematics, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The college offers 15 majors, including Wildlife Rehabilitation, Wildlife Biology, Performing Arts Studies, Business Administration and Elementary Education.During its junior college days, the College awarded the AA (Associate of Arts) or AS (Associate of Science) degree. Beginning in 1990 the Associate degree programs were abandoned and students began courses of study for Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees.The college offers degree completion programs in birth-kindergarten education, elementary education, criminal justice, and nursing at three community college sites in Western North Carolina.The Performing Arts Department offers a BFA degree in Musical Theatre, which is a part of the National Accreditation of Schools of Theatre (NAST)The Performing Arts Department also supports the National Dance Association (NDA) and Alpha Psi Omega (APO), both are Honorary Fraternities.

Sports, clubs, and traditions

Intramural opportunities are available for several sports. The newest of these is the competitive rock climbing team.

Several programs are available to students interested in leadership, service and the outdoors. These programs range from the school's own Campus After The Class Hours (CATCH), KIBO Emerging Leaders, and Outdoor Programs to national programs like AmeriCorps Bonner Leaders.

Student groups on campus include:

  • Alpha Chi (Academic Honor Society)
  • Alpha Psi Omega (Theatre Honor Fraturnity)
  • Backpacking Club
  • Beekeeping Club
  • Campus Ministry Leadership Team
  • Chi Alpha Sigma (National Athletics Honor Society)
  • Club of Athletic Training (CAT)
  • Competition Climbing Team
  • Fishing Interest Group
  • Greek Service Organizations
    • Alpha Alpha Psi (AAY)
    • Beta Omega Kappa (BOK)
    • Delta Omicron Theta (DOT)
    • Delta Zeta Nu (DZN)
  • International Club
  • Kayak Interest Group
  • LMC Dancers
  • LMC Equestrian
  • LMC Players
  • Nu Delta Alpha (Dance Honor Society)
  • Order of the Tower
  • PAWS (Programming Activities With Students)
  • Peer Educators
  • Pet Council
  • Phi Beta Lambda
  • Pi Lambda Theta (Education Honor Society)
  • Residence Hall Association
  • Rock Climbing Club
  • SAAC (Student Athletic Advisory Committee)
  • SAVE (Students Against a Vanishing Environment)
  • SAWS (Sports And Wellness Club)
  • Search nad Rescue Team
  • Sigma Beta Delta (Business Honor Society)
  • Spectrum
  • Student Ambassadors
  • Student Government Association
  • Swim Club
  • Quidditch Team


The Lees-McRae Bobcats compete in NCAA Division II and play in Conference Carolinas. All athletic teams are eligible for athletic scholarships. The College is also home to a cycling team which competes in Division I and holds national championships. Also the Men's Soccer Team is currently number two in the nation. The varsity sports teams are listed below.

Male Sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross County
  • Cycling
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Volleyball

Female Sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross County
  • Cycling
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Volleyball

Noted alumni


  1. ^ a b "Lees-McRae College - College Overview". Petersons. 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  2. ^ Lees-McRae College: Communications: Publication Guidelines. Retrieved on 2007-07-09.
  3. ^ "Lees-McRae College". Bonner Program Campus Contacts. The Bonner Foundation. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  4. ^ Geographic Names Information System Feature Detail Report, U.S. Geological Survey, 1980-06-17, retrieved 2007-07-09 
  5. ^ "Program At Lees-McRae College To Provide New Opportunities To Women In Need", The Mountain Times, 2005-01-13, retrieved 2007-07-09 
  6. ^ Kelley, Pam (1987-03-20), "Lees-McRae Might Convert To 4-Year College", The Charlotte Observer: 1C 
  7. ^ "Lees-McRae College Dedicates New Track And Field Venue", The Mountain Times, 2003-10-09, retrieved 2007-07-09 

External links

  • Lees-McRae College official website
  • Lees-McRae College official athletics website
  • Lees-McRae Yearbooks 1930-2006
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