News - Greenville University purchases Nashville music center

Greenville University purchases Nashville music center

by Sarah Thomack Greenville University purchases Nashville music center

Greenville University is making an exciting investment in the future of the entertainment industry.

GU found a perfect fit with its mission and value for experiential learning by purchasing the Contemporary Music Center (CMC) to offer an immersive music industry experience in Nashville, Tennessee.  

The CMC previously operated under the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), a higher education association of more than 180 Christian institutions, as one of their BestSemester programs (now CCCU GlobalEd). CCCU will continue to endorse CMC as a Christ-centered, off-campus study program for students of its member organizations.

"This pandemic has upended the way we all are doing business,” says CCCU President Shirley Hoogstra. “The CCCU no longer had the capacity to run nine programs, but we knew that each one had enriched the lives of thousands of students and, if possible, should continue. I believe the transfer of the Contemporary Music Program to Greenville University is a win-win for the CCCU and its membership.”

What is the Contemporary Music Center? 

CMC, since 2001, has offered a semester long, 16-credit hour program that prepares college students for careers in the entertainment industry while living out their faith as Christ-followers. During the semester, 30 like-minded students live, work, and create music together in a facility that provides 24/7 access to world-class gear. All teaching faculty are active in the industry, and their real-world experiences keep the program relevant and practical. The program features three tracks of study: artist, business and technical. In the artist track, students write, record, and perform; business students manage, promote and market music, while the tech students handle all things technical, such as sound, lights, video and more. At the end of the semester, the students pack up equipment and begin a weeklong road tour, their final exam. 

“This program is exceptional,” says Hoogstra. “CCCU students will still be able to gather together to learn, experiment and hone their music skills, all within a Christ-centered context. I am grateful that Greenville University has stepped forward and will continue to offer this program to interested students for decades to come."

Expanding GU's mission

GU President Suzanne Davis says the University has excelled in the region in fulfilling its mission. She felt it was time for GU to expand its reach into new markets.

“Greenville University is known for quality experiential education that empowers students for character and service,” Davis says. “I am excited about the acquisition of CMC, because it embraces the modality of experiential curriculum. CMC provides students with team-based, real world problem solving that cultivates the strengths of a multi-disciplinary team and produces students who are salt and light to a needy world. This is the same value GU holds.” 

Through the partnership, CMC is now a subsidiary of the SMART Experience Institutes, LLC., formed by GU to allow the CMC to continue operating as a distinct program.

GU was able to make the purchase thanks to board-approved funds from a quasi-endowment. The endowment comes from unrestricted estate gifts with strict criteria that will be directed by the Board of Trustees for a three-year projected return on investment. The Board saw CMC as a great opportunity to use the quasi-endowment to invest in the future as well as provide a unique experience for students.

A Greenville connection

CMC’s director, Warren Pettit, has a connection to Greenville University that spans decades. Pettit was instrumental in GU’s Contemporary Christian Music Program in the 80s and 90s, beginning the first Christian liberal arts undergraduate commercial music program in the country. He continued his legacy of “outside-the-box” educational thinking with CMC, where he will continue to lead within the new initiative.

Getting set for fall 2021

Greenville University will offer a safe learning environment in Nashville, just as it offers a safe learning environment on its Greenville campus. This includes regular COVID-19 saliva testing of all program participants for the foreseeable future (or as long as necessary). As a participant in the University of Illinois SHIELD program, GU tests all students, faculty and staff on campus weekly. 

At CMC, semester-long programming for college students from all over the country will continue for fall and spring semesters, beginning in fall 2021. The facility will also be used during the summer to benefit all involved in the entertainment industry, including area churches, schools and professional music industry technicians.

For more information, visit or contact Operations Director Jenny Leininger at [email protected]

This story was published on January 14, 2021