Distinguished Alumni


James K. Mathews

Bishop James K. Mathews has this to say about his LMU experience.
“Never in my whole life did I experience time dragging on in seemingly endless more than I did during this interlude, the year after high school.  My income during that period was supposed to have been put aside for college expenses. As it happened it actually went toward family support. I did not resent this. It was just a fact of life for me.  Nevertheless, I was determined to get university training somehow, somewhere.  A boyhood friend of my father was chancellor of Lincoln Memorial University. He invited me to study there. One could attend LMU tuition-free and work to cover all the expenses, a little after the manner of Berea College in Kentucky. This appealed to me, for I arrived on campus with only $100 to my name. Thirty-three months later (for I took no school holidays) I emerged with a Bachelor of Arts degree and $30 in hand.

‘ It was tough going. Through that period I worked at all manner of things for an average of four hours a day, for which I was credited with thirty cents an hour toward my expenses. Most of the other students had to do much the same. We quarried limestone, an exhausting and dirty task. We also dug ditches, did farm work, moved lawn, scrubbed floors, made soap, washed windows, baked bread, served as butchers, made jam and apple butter, washed dishes, and waited tables (at one time or another , I did all of these).   My academic record was good, for I graduated from college as valedictorian and became known as something of an orator. Prizes came my way in speech, debate, and premedical studies.

“Lincoln Memorial University was not an Ivy-league institution, but some of our professors were of that caliber, offering excellent teaching in English, chemistry, physics, social science and philosophy. As in primary and secondary schools, I feel lasting gratitude to my professors. The mountain people were as solid and unpretentious as they were reputed to be. I developed good friends among both benders, but since my subsequent work took me far afield, those friendships were not to be lifelong.

‘I fully intended to become a surgeon and pursued studies to that end. That was to change radically during my second year. I was then redirected toward the Christian ministry. Several persons influenced me in this change.’