A History of the Mars Hill University Business Department

Business Honor Club

Members of the Business Honor Club with the organization's emblem which was designed by Gordon M. Funk, Class of 1947.

Beginning in 1934 under the leadership and guidance of B.M. Canup, Mars Hill University’s Business Department has grown into one of the campus’s largest and most popular majors. When announcing the new Business Department in a campus wide bulletin, Dr. Moore’s administration stated,

“Mars Hill has always tried to offer the best for it constituency and keep its work up to standard. For that reason we are now opening this new department to take care of the ever increasing demand for such courses…Many students can only spend two years in college and want to be ready to go directly into business. Our new department in cooperation with other departments will seek to equip a young man or young woman to go directly into business positions on completion of Junior College… We will seek to make these courses practical, much practice work being provided in the college offices…Never before has there been a greater need for Christian business men and women…”

Coincidentally, this is not the first that Dr. Moore or his administration would speak of a Business Department on campus. The 1898-1899 catalogue contained a piece from Dr. Moore’s office, which described the business education at Mars Hill during that time. It read;

“This is not a Business College; it has no red-tape “business annex” to humbug the people, professing to do in a few months what years scarce serve to do; but it does really prepare for business all the same. The business world today demands that he who would enter it with hope of success shall have (1) a strong disciplined mind, trained by hard study, to think and plan and scheme; (2) That he write neatly and plainly and rapidly, keep accounts well; (#) that he do arithmetical problems with ease, rapidity and accuracy. It has no patience with a slow or inaccurate plodder. Any young man who has these three qualifications has every chance of success, it he has energy, address, and moral character. Mental Training, Book-keeping, Business Forms, thorough drill in rapid calculation---all are combined in the courses at Mars Hill College. No need to pay fancy prices for superficial training.”

Since this first mention of business courses being offered at Mars Hill, the university has thrived and grown to become one of the leading institutions of higher education in the southeast in part because of its ability to adapt to the demands of an ever-changing world, including the world of business. This adaptability was showcased in 1951 when a need for office workers saw the institution offer a one-year intensive program in secretarial sciences and accounting. Certificates were awarded to those students who completed one of the programs and completed credits could be put towards an associate in arts degree if the students wished to continue their education. Mars Hill and the Business Department were forced to face change once again in 1960 when the Board of Trustees voted in favor of converting Mars Hill from a junior college (2 years) into a senior college (4 years). This decision by the board meant that for the first tie, students could take upper level advanced business courses at Mars Hill College and have a Bachelor of Science degree conferred upon them at the end of their studies. Following the change from junior college to senior college, students interested in business had the opportunity to major in a variety of subjects such as; accounting, business administration, business education, economics, or secretarial administration. The addition of these new majors helped the enrollment of both the Business Department and Mars Hill College continue to grow steadily, particularly in the new Adult Education evening programs that Mars Hill began offering in the 1970s, throughout the later years of the 20th century.

In August 2013, Mars Hill, and as a result the Business Department, entered a new chapter in its storied history as Mars Hill College officially became Mars Hill University as the institution officially began offering graduate level courses. With the name change comes a new set of goals and challenges for the Business Department and other departments across campus. A new Masters of Management is in the works for Mars Hill and is currently pending approvals by SACS COC, the accrediting body for Mars Hill University. Along with the changes to curriculum, the transition from College to University saw the Business Department gain a new physical campus home. In the fall of 2016, Mars Hill University President Dr. Dan Lunsford and the Board of Trustees dedicated the Troy and Pauline Day Hall as the new home for the university’ business administration program. When speaking at the building dedication, Grainger Caudle, chair of the business administration department, stated, “The building supports business education but also actual commerce of the university and town through the bookstore, cafe, and theatre operations. We anticipate that the location, ambiance, and available services will draw community members into the building and strengthen town-gown relationships.” Day Hall is named in honor Mr. Tory L. Day, MHC Class of 1948 and alumni of the Business Department, who serves as chair of the Mars Hill University Foundation Board, and a former chair of the university’s board of trustees.

A History of the Mars Hill University Business Department