TEXAS HOLINESS UNIVERSITY
Texas Holiness University, also known as Holiness University, was established in Peniel, Texas, in 1899 as a private coeducational college associated with the Texas Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. The school developed from a meeting of a committee representing the Holiness Movement of the Southwest at Greenville in April 1899. Unhappy with the education provided to Pentecostal students by existing colleges in the state, the committee members decided to establish at Peniel, a small town just south of Greenville, a college that would provide a good education in an atmosphere suitable to the ideals of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. Additionally, the school was to train students to teach the beliefs of the Pentecostal faith. A board of trustees for the proposed institution was elected, and in May 1899 this board chose Rev. A. M. Hills president of the college and authorized him to select a faculty. The original faculty consisted of seven instructors, three of whom had bachelor of arts degrees. By 1910 the faculty had almost tripled in size. Residents of Greenville donated $3,000 to the building of the school, and much of the building material and labor was provided by the student body. The university's physical plant consisted of an administration-classroom building, a music conservatory-science building, and two dormitories.
The institution maintained no academic requirements for admission other than fifteen credits from an accredited high school. Good moral character, abstinence from the use of tobacco and liquor, and a letter of recommendation, however, were required of all entrants. In 1914 the school made some effort to enact more rigorous entrance requirements in order to win affiliation with other southern colleges. Texas Holiness University offered bachelor's degrees in arts, literature, commercial science, divinity, oratory, philosophy, music, and science. Although religious meetings often overrode coursework, graduates were required to pass courses in Bible, English, mathematics, history, theology, philosophy, and Greek or Latin, and to deliver an oration at commencement. During its existence the institution attracted students from throughout the United States and other countries as well. It was the only institution of its kind in the South and was considered one of the best Nazarene schools in the nation. Enrollment ranged from 108 students during the school's first year to 351 in 1915–16 to 300 during its final year. Annual tuition increased from thirty to sixty dollars during the college's existence, and room and board fees rose from eleven to twenty-five dollars a month.
In 1911 the national office of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene adopted the institution, and its name was changed to Peniel University. In 1917 its name was again changed, this time to Peniel College. The college closed and was consolidated with Oklahoma Holiness College in Bethany, Oklahoma, in 1920, largely because the students were unable to pay the increased fees. Additionally, the school received little financial support from the Nazarene Church.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ethel Cassles, A History of Hunt County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1935). Jackson Massey, A History of College Education in Hunt County, Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1928). Donald W. Whisenhunt, The Encyclopedia of Texas Colleges and Universities (Austin: Eakin, 1986). Quoted from Handbook of Texas On Line