Brite Divinity School is the theological seminary of Texas Christian University. It has a separate board of trustees and its own dean but is administered by the TCU system. The seminary, like its parent institution, has formal and informal ties to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In its mission statement, Brite defines itself "as an intellectual center of the church." The school dates back to 1895, when J. B. Sweeny, a religion instructor, led a reorganization of TCU's Department of Bible into a separate school called the Bible College. Despite Sweeny's strong leadership and a new name, it was difficult to distinguish the Bible College from the original religion department. Lucas Charles Brite II's endowment of a chair in English Bible in 1911 and donation of additional funds in 1914 provided the stimulus for the college's growth into Brite College of the Bible, renamed for its benefactor. The newly incorporated school offered one and two year graduate degrees. In 1941 the American Association of Theological Schools extended accreditation after the school increased its requirement for a divinity degree to a three-year program. The school also holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
The years following World War II proved to be a boom for the seminary; its faculty doubled and its student body grew. In 1952 the school moved into the south wing of TCU's newly built Religion Center. The new location was in close proximity to the Robert Carr Chapel, which is also housed in the center. In the early 1950s Brite College integrated its student body, an action TCU did not take campus-wide until 1964. Black students were still not allowed to live in seminary housing or eat in the university cafeteria. In 1963 a renewal of the school's charter brought a change in its name from Brite College of the Bible to Brite Divinity School. The school also changed its basic degree from a bachelor of divinity to a master of divinity in 1967. By 1970 it offered the doctor of ministry as well. Since its inception, the school has had seven deans: Colby D. Hall (1914–47), D. Ray Lindley (1947–50), Roy C. Snodgrass (1950–55), Elmer D. Henson (1955–71), William E. Tucker (1971–76), M. Jack Suggs (1976–89) and Leo G. Perdue (1989-). In the early 1990s the school offered the following graduate programs: master of divinity, master of theological studies, certificate of theological studies, doctor of ministry in homiletics, and doctor of ministry in pastoral theology and pastoral counseling. In 1994 enrollment in the school was 242.
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Brite Divinity School: A Historical Sketch (Fort Worth: Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, 1989). Colby D. Hall, History of Texas Christian University (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1947). Noel Leonard Keith, The Brites of Capote (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1950). Texas Christian University Bulletin, May 1993.
Theological Seminaries and Colleges
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Brite Divinity School,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 02, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
May 18, 2019