Trevecca Nazarene University was founded in Nashville in 1901 by Rev. J. O. McClurkan as the Literary and Bible Training School for Christian Workers. In 1910 the curriculum was enlarged and the name changed to Trevecca College, a name taken from an institution started in Wales in 1768 during the Wesleyan Revival.
In 1914 the College was moved from downtown Nashville to a site on Gallatin Road in East Nashville and in 1935 was established at its present location on Murfreesboro Road in Southeast Nashville. Trevecca became an official college of the Church of the Nazarene in 1917 and graduated its first four-year class approved by the State of Tennessee in 1942. It was first accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1969. The first master's degree was added in 1984. In 1995 the name of the institution was changed to Trevecca Nazarene University. In December 1998 Trevecca was approved as a level V institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to add the first doctoral degree, the EdD with a major in Leadership and Professional Practice.
The University is governed by the board of trustees elected by the various districts of the Church of the Nazarene that constitute the Southeast Educational Region.
From the very beginning Trevecca has sought to provide Christian education for both ministers and laymen. Today its educational program is reflected in more than one hundred certificate, associate, baccalaureate and graduate majors. Its service-oriented philosophy has resulted in worldwide alumni representation.
The motto of Trevecca is esse quam videri—"to be rather than to seem." Its colors are purple and white, and its athletic team name is "the Trojans." The Trevecca Alma Mater is the following:
On a hill stands old Trevecca, lined against the sky.
Hallowed halls of faith and learning, as the years go by.
We will honor and we'll love her; we will stand for right.
Always carry high her banner, hail to the purple and the white.
Fellow students, may we honor her; and be ever true.
Sons and daughters she'll be proud of—Dear old T.N.U.
The first president of Trevecca was the Rev. J. O. McClurkan (1901-1914). He was followed by Dr. C. E. Hardy (1915-1919, 1920-1925, 1928-1937), Dr. S. S. White (1919-1920), Mr. John T. Benson (1925-1926), Dr. A. O. Hendricks (1926-1928), Dr. A. B. Mackey (1937-1963), Dr. William M. Greathouse (1963-1968), Dr. Mark Moore (1968-1979), Dr. Homer J. Adams (1979-1991), and Dr. Millard Reed (1991-2005). Dr. Dan L. Boone was elected Trevecca’s eleventh president in 2005.
For the 75th Anniversary celebration of Trevecca in 1976, a history of the institution, authored by Dr. Mildred Bangs Wynkoop, was published under the title The Trevecca Story. In 2001, A Vine of God's Own Planting by Dr. John Chilton, emeritus professor of history, was published as part of the Trevecca Centennial Series. This work focused primarily on the events that shaped Trevecca from the years 1976 to 2001. Pathways to Success by Dr. Melvin Welch, published in 2016, details the history of the School of Education from 1957 to 2003.