James A. Colston

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Dr. James A. Colston
President of
Georgia State College
In office
Preceded by Benjamin F. Hubert
Succeeded by William K. Payne
Personal details
Alma mater Morehouse College, New York University
Profession College President

James A. Colston (1910–1982) became the first African American to serve as president of a college in the state of New York and was among the first to lead a predominately white college when he was named president of the Bronx Community College in 1966.

Dr. Colston also served as president of three other institutions, which include: Bethune-Cookman University 1942-46; Georgia State College (now Savannah State University) 1947-51; and Knoxville College 1951-65.



Colston received his B.S. in education from Morehouse College in 1932; his M.A. in education from Atlanta University in 1933 and later obtained his Ph.D. from New York University.


In 1942, Dr. Colston was named the second president of Bethune-Cookman University following the first retirement of the school's founder, Mary McLeod Bethune. While at Bethune Cookman, Colston launched the School of Education which became accredited in 1945. Dr. Colston served as president of Georgia State College from 1947 and until 1949.[1]

Colston succeeded Benjamin F. Hubert as president of the college in 1947. It was during Colston’s term as president that Savannah State became accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).[1] Also during his tenure, the college’s land-grant status was transferred to Fort Valley State College (1949).[1]

During his term as president the campus was modernized to include the construction of the first student center and the installation of the first campus-wide telephone system.[1] Additionally, he established the school’s first Office of Public Relations and established the Campus Chest Program.[1] Colston resigned in 1949.[1]

From 1951 to 1965, Dr. Colston served as president of Knoxville College in Eastern Tennessee. During his tenure the school experienced unparalleled growth. Thereafter, Colston headed Bronx Community College from 1966 until 1976. During his tenure the college's enrollment expanded from 7,000 students to 13,800 students and achieved both financial and academic success. As the school's second president, Colston oversaw the transfer of Bronx Community College from its temporary location to its Harlem River campus prior to the fall of 1973.


The James A. Colston Administration Building on the university's campus is named in honor of Dr. Colston.[2]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hall, Clyde W. (1991). One Hundred Years of Educating at Savannah State College, 1890-1990. East Peoria, Ill.: Versa Press.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "SSU - Where Savannah Meets the Sea...". Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  2. ^ "Savannah State University". Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Benjamin F. Hubert
President of
Georgia State College

1947 — 1949
Succeeded by
William K. Payne