Young Harris College

Young Harris College is a private, four-year Methodist-affiliated liberal arts college located in the mountains of northeast Georgia. The current president is Drew Van Horn.

Young Harris College
Former names
McTyeire Institute
MottoHic iuventus incenditur(Latin)
Motto in English
Here Youth is Inspired
TypeLiberal arts college
AffiliationUnited Methodist Church
PresidentDrew Van Horn
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Undergraduates1,202 (2017)[1]
Location, ,
Campus35 acres, rural
ColorsPurple and White         
Athleticsbaseball, softball, tennis, soccer, basketball, golf, competitive cheerleading, lacrosse
NicknameMountain Lions



The school was founded in 1886 by Artemas Lester, a circuit-riding Methodist minister who wanted to provide the residents of the Appalachian Mountains with an education. The college was funded in part by production from an agricultural program, or college farm. Students who could not afford education were allowed to work on the farm to earn tuition.

Originally known as McTyeire Institute for the small village where the school was located, the college struggled for the first year until an Athens, Georgia, judge, Young L.G. Harris, donated enough money to keep the school open. The school was later renamed Young Harris Institute and became Young Harris College in honor of its benefactor, as was the surrounding town in 1895.[2] A fire destroyed the college's main classroom building in 1911, but it was rebuilt by local townspeople and named Sharp Hall in honor of the college president at the time. The Young Harris Academy was founded in the late 19th century and provided a primary education for thousands of students until it closed after World War II.[3]


Margaret Adger Pitts, who died in 1998, left an estate valued at $192 million, mostly in Coca-Cola stock acquired by her father in the 1920s. YHC was one of four Georgia entities named to receive the yearly dividends and trust proceeds, approximately $3 million to each of the beneficiaries. The college announced that the money would be used for scholarships, improvements to the campus, and religious programs.[4]


Since the early 1910s, YHC was a two-year school, granting associate's degrees. In 2008, the college earned its four-year accreditation through regional accreditation organization, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and was approved to offer bachelor's degrees in biology, business and public policy, English, and music. In February 2010, Young Harris' accreditation was expanded to include communication studies, history, outdoor leadership, theatre, and musical theatre in the list of sanctioned bachelor's programs.[5]

Young Harris College serves a student body population of over 1,100 students, with approximately 100 from the surrounding area. The college has stated its intent to increase enrollment to 1,200 over the next few years. To support this growth, Young Harris has begun to hire "significant new faculty [members]" and to "construct three major new facilities."[6]

New facilities

Enotah Hall, a new residence facility for 200 students, opened in August 2009 between Manget Hall and Rollins Hall.[2] Its suites are arranged with two-bedrooms and two baths for four students, and include computer study spaces, rooms for music practice, and meeting rooms.[7] It was designed to be energy efficient and received a LEED Silver certification.[8]

Construction began on April 24, 2009, on a new, $15 million, 57,000 sq ft (5,300 m2) Recreation and Fitness Center. In addition to the fitness center, there is an elevated track, a 37-foot climbing wall, aerobic exercise rooms, 2 basketball courts for intramurals and concession facilities featuring a juice bar. The complex contains a 1,100 seat arena for intercollegiate competition in basketball and volleyball. The lower level houses locker rooms and offices for coaches and staff. It opened in late July, 2010 with a tour by college president Cathy Cox.[9][10] The Rec center also received LEED certification.[8]

Following completion of the Rec Center in 2010, a new student residence area, "The Village" for 248 students was constructed in 14 apartment buildings where a cluster of the school's tennis courts had been previously located.[8]

The Rollins Campus Center was one of three projects approved for construction in 2008. The design of the center was finalized with 125,000 sq ft (11,600 m2) of space with a projected cost of $41 million. The O. Wayne Rollins Foundation gave $22 million toward construction of the structure,[11] which has four separate areas: The 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) student center is used for multiple purposes. The 40,000 sq ft (3,700 m2) library is twice the size of the earlier Duckworth Library and has been named for former Governor Zell Miller and his wife Shirley, both distinguished alumni. The new dining hall seats more than 500, almost double the previous dining hall capacity, and the "Charles Suber Banquet Hall" is a rentable facility serving 350. Ground was broken for construction on April 5, 2013 and the facility opened in October 2014.[8]



Academic program

Young Harris College offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in 20 or more majors and 22 minors.[13] These academic studies consist of course offerings in seven divisions and programs, including the divisions of Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Science, and Social and Behavioral Sciences; and three or more programs, including Interdisciplinary, Teacher-Preparation, and Pre-Professional programs. The college has five centers and institutes, including the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL); the Center for Appalachian Studies and Community Engagement; the Center for Writing and Speaking; the Institute for Leadership, Business and Public Policy; and the Institute for Continuing Learning. The Young Harris College Honors Program is available to high-achieving students. In addition, students may apply to Immersive Learning Programs, such as First Year Foundations, Scholars Consortium and Academic Fellowships, Rhetorica, and others. International education is offered through faculty-led groups, student-exchange programs, study-abroad affiliates, scholarships, and other means. A graphic design major was added for the 2018/2019 academic year[14], headed by Stan Anderson, one of the seven original graphic designers hired at CNN in 1980.[15]

Typical classes are small. The ratio of students to faculty at Young Harris is 10:1.[13]


University rankings
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[16] 174

In the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings of national liberal arts colleges, Young Harris College was ranked 174.[13]


Young Harris's sports teams are called the Mountain Lions. On July 1, 2014, the school completed the transition from the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division II level. The college originally applied to the NCAA in 2010, but the application was rejected.[17] The school re-applied in 2011 and received acceptance into the three-year process to become a full member. As of the 2011-12 academic year, Young Harris was in the first year of candidacy-membership.[18]

Young Harris competes in nine sports:

Student life

The College offers various opportunities for students to engage, socialize and participate in organizations relating to academic topics, intramural and club sports, media and publications, service, special interest, spiritual and religious, student government and Greek life.[19]

Greek system

The roots of the Young Harris Greek system began with the men's debating societies of the late 1880s. The Young Harris Debating Society (YHDS) and the Phi Chi Debating Society (PC) were academic in nature, and lasted through the 1950s. Young Harris women formed the literary societies Susan B. Harris Society (EBE) and Phi Delta Society (PD).

During the 1960s, these organizations became more social than academic. YHDS was chartered as Upsilon Delta Sigma fraternity in 1967 and paired up with the Susan B. Harris Society, which became known as Sigma Beta Sigma sorority. Phi Chi fraternity linked to Phi Delta sorority. On January 3, 1968, Kappa Tau Omega became the third fraternity on campus with nine charter members. Alpha Iota formed as the third sorority in the early 1970s.[20] In the fall of 1987, Zeta Pi formed as the fourth fraternity on campus.[21]

On February 19, 2010, Young Harris college gained its first nationally affiliated fraternity when 28 undergraduate men formed Kappa Sigma's Rho-Pi chapter. Phi Sigma Kappa national fraternity followed with a colony in early 2014. Phi Sigma Kappa officially chartered on April 25, 2015, becoming the Gamma Octaton Chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa.

Fraternities and sororities are important to campus life at the college. There are thirteen Greek organizations, and students are strongly encouraged to "find the perfect fit".[22]

The college has six honor societies, including Alpha Chi, Kappa Pi, Lambda Pi Eta, Mu Phi Epsilon professional music fraternity, Phi Alpha Theta and Sigma Tau Delta.


A lawsuit was filed against the college on March 26, 2013 by a former student and two faculty members alleging the college ignored serious fraternity and sorority hazing on campus.[23][24]


Cultural activities available on campus to clubs and individuals include singing group performances and sponsored music events, Campus Gate Art Gallery exhibitions, and Theatre Young Harris dramatic performances. Planetarium Shows are featured at the O. Wayne Rollins Planetarium. There are three student publications: the Corn Creek Revue literary magazine, the Mosaic religious-life publication and the Enotah annual yearbook.

Community service opportunities are offered through Greek societies, clubs, and religious organizations, as well as off-campus community organizations.

Dining and recreation

Dining, recreational and student-center activities, movies, and games are available at the Rollins Campus Center, which also houses a library. Dining options include choices of dining-hall meals and two on-campus chain restaurants. Students at Young Harris College purchase a meal plan. Outside of the meal plan, students may also visit diners and restaurants in Young Harris and nearby towns.

Off Campus recreational activities are available, as well. Area lakes and rivers offer boating, swimming, skiing, rafting, and kayaking. Local parks and other organizations provide picnicking areas, hiking trails, farms, and vineyards. Further exploration may include caving and mountain climbing. Several small towns in Georgia and North Carolina, within a 30-minute drive of campus, feature theaters, galleries, antique stores, thrift shops, and shopping centers.

Cupid Falls waterfall is within easy walking distance of campus. Day trips may be made to Lake Chatuge, Vogel State Park, and Brasstown Bald. The nearest metropolitan cities are Atlanta, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee (each approximately a two-hour drive from Young Harris).


Young Harris College is highly regarded in Georgia and has had more of an impact on the state's politics and society than would be expected from a small school in the mountains. Over the last 100+ years, many Young Harris students have chosen careers in public service; the ministry and teaching have been traditional vocations. Politics has been the choice of a number of others. One U.S. Senator, two governors, a number of congressmen, state legislators and mayors all started out at YHC.[25][26]

Notable alumni

Famous graduates include former Georgia governors E. D. Rivers and U.S. Senator Zell Miller; entertainers Oliver Hardy, Wayland Flowers and Amanda Bearse; country music singers Ronnie Milsap and Trisha Yearwood; Major League Baseball players Nick Markakis, Charlie Blackmon and Cory Gearrin; Waffle House founder Tom Forkner; state Supreme Court Chief Justice William Henry Duckworth; state Senator J. Ebb Duncan and state Representative Hank Huckaby.[27] Poet and novelist Byron Herbert Reece was a student and teacher at YHC.

Further reading

  • A History of Young L.G. Harris College, Joseph Milton Brogdon, 1938
  • History of Young L.G. Harris College, Thomas Jackson Lance, 1935, 61 pages
  • Young Harris College: 1886-1986, Louisa Franklin & Jeffery S. Moody, 1986
  • The Miracle of Brasstown Valley, Zell Miller, 2007, 180 pages, ISBN 0-9796462-0-0


  1. "About YHC: Quick Facts" Young Harris College website
  2. "New Construction" Young Harris College website
  3. "A History of YHC" Young Harris College website
  4. Associated Press, "Woman leaves huge sums to Methodist groups" The Augusta Chronicle, March 4, 1999
  5. "Young Harris College Adds Five New Baccalaureate Programs", South Georgia Conference of UMC news release, accessed March 15, 2010
  6. Dean, Krystin (March 2010). "Building the Brand". College Planning and Management. 13 (3): 50–55. ISSN 1523-0910.
  7. Ross, Jon: "200-Bed Entoah Hall Complete at Young Harris College" Student Housing Business
  8. Dean, Krystin (April 8, 2013). "YHC Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony for New $41 Million Rollins Campus Center". Young Harris College Press Release. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  9. "Young Harris College breaks ground on new Recreation and Fitness Center" Young Harris College press release, April 24, 2009
  10. Burch, Ethan: "Young Harris College Opens New Recreation center" UPIU Sports, August 5, 2010
  11. Saporta, Maria (March 30, 2012). "Rollins Foundation gives $22M to Young Harris". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  12. Reese, Krista:"Young Harris College" New Georgia Encyclopedia
  13. "Young Harris College". U.S. News & World Report. 2017.
  14. "Young Harris Graphic Design"
  15. "Young Harris Stan Anderson"
  16. "Best Colleges 2020: National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  17. Stillwell, Dan (July 14, 2010). "WVU Tech's bid to return to NCAA rejected". The Register-Herald. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  18. Staff (July 12, 2011). "YHC granted candidacy for NCAA Division II membership". Enotah Echoes. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  19. "Student life". Young Harris College. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  20. Rayburn, Eric. "Upsilon Delta Sigma History". 1991. Upsilon Delta Sigma Fraternity. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  21. "Zeta Pi Fraternity - Young Harris College". Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  22. "Greek Life". Young Harris College. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  23. Baker, Katie (April 30, 2013). "Naked Sweethearts & Mud Crawls: A Small College's Big Hazing Problem". Jezebel. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  24. Diamond, Laura (May 1, 2013). "Lawsuit against Young Harris College alleges anti-hazing remarks led to firings". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  25. Reese, Krista: "Young Harris College" New Georgia Encyclopedia
  26. Paschal, Paul Holmes: A Tribute To Young L G Harris, Advocate Press, 1977, Page 17
  27. "Huckaby legislature biography". Archived from the original on February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2011.

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