Johnson C. Smith University

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Johnson C. Smith University
Seal of Johnson C. Smith University
Former names
Biddle Memorial Institute
Biddle University
Motto Sit Lux
Motto in English
Let There Be Light
Established 1867
Type Private, HBCU
Affiliation Presbyterian Church (USA)
Endowment $51.1 million (Beneficiary of the Duke Endowment, 1924)[1]
President Ronald L. Carter
Academic staff
Students 1,669[3]
Location Charlotte, North Carolina,
United States

35°14′35″N 80°51′22″W / 35.243°N 80.856°W / 35.243; -80.856Coordinates: 35°14′35″N 80°51′22″W / 35.243°N 80.856°W / 35.243; -80.856
Campus Urban 105 acres
Colors Gold and Navy Blue
Athletics NCAA, Division II
Sports basketball
track and field
Nickname Golden Bulls
Mascot The Golden Bull
Affiliations Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
Johnson C. Smith University Logo
Biddle Memorial Hall, Johnson C. Smith University
Johnson C. Smith University is located in North Carolina
Johnson C. Smith University
Location Beatties Ford Rd. and W. Trade St., Charlotte, North Carolina
Coordinates 35°14′37″N 80°51′25″W / 35.2435°N 80.8569°W / 35.2435; -80.8569
Area less than one acre
Built 1883
Architectural style Romanesque
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 75001281[4]
Added to NRHP October 14, 1975

Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is a private, co-ed, four-year research university of higher learning in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. JCSU is also a historically black college. JCSU offers an assortment of academic programs, aimed at ensuring that its graduates are prepared for success in the workforce. JCSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and Council on Social Work Accreditation (CSWE). The school awards Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Social Work degrees to its graduates. The school also presents many internship opportunities for its students.


Johnson C. Smith University was established on April 7, 1867 as the Biddle Memorial Institute at a meeting of the Catawba Presbytery in the old Charlotte Presbyterian Church. Mary D. Biddle, a churchwoman, donated $1,400 to the school. In appreciation of this first contribution, friends requested Mrs. Biddle to name the newly established school after her late husband, Henry Biddle. Two ministers, Samuel C. Alexander and Willis L. Miller, saw the need for a school in the south and after the birth of the school they were elected as some of the first teachers. Its coordinate women's school was Scotia Seminary (now Barber-Scotia College).[5]

In 1876, the charter was changed by the Legislature of the State of North Carolina and the name became Biddle University, under which name the institution operated until 1923.

In 1891, Biddle University elected Daniel J. Sanders as the first African-American as President of a four-year institute in the south.

Johnson Crayne Smith

From 1921 to 1922, Jane Berry Smith donated funds to build a theological dormitory, a science hall, a teachers' cottage and a memorial gate. She also provided an endowment for the institution in memory of her late husband, Johnson C. Smith. Up until her death she donated funds for five more buildings and a campus church. In recognition of these generous benefactions, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the institution to Johnson C. Smith University. The charter of the school, accordingly, was amended on March 1, 1923, by the Legislature of the State of North Carolina.

In 1924, James B. Duke established the Duke Endowment. While the largest share of that the Endowment's earnings are allocated to support Duke University, Duke's donation required that 4% of its earnings be given to the university.[6] Over the years, this share of the Endowment's distributions has exceeded $90 million.

In 1932, the university's charter was amended, providing for the admission of women. The 65-year-old institution for men then became partially coeducational. The first residence hall for women, named in memory of James B. Duke, was dedicated in 1940. In 1941, women were admitted to the freshman class. In 1942, the university was a fully coeducational institution.

JCSU joined the United Negro College Fund in 1944 as a founding member. This fund was organized primarily to help church-related schools of higher learning to revamp their training programs, to expand their plants, to promote faculty growth and to create new areas of service.[7]

In Fall 2000, JCSU launched the IBM Laptop Initiative becoming one of few colleges in the country and the first historically black college to provide an IBM laptop computer to every student. Known as "ThinkPad U", JCSU gives students and their computers complete access to the campus-wide network and the Internet. Since 1994, the ratio of computers to students improved from 1:10 to 1:1.1.[citation needed] With this new initiative and the commitment to integrate technology throughout the curriculum, JCSU gained national recognition. It also ranked #10 among Top HBCU's.

Biddle Memorial Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places.

1870–1884 Stephen Mattoon
1884–1885 William Alexander Holliday
1886–1891 William F. Johnson
1891–1907 Daniel J. Sanders
1907–1947 Henry Lawrence McCrorey
1947–1956 Hardy Liston
1956–1957 James W. Seabrook
1957–1968 Rufus P. Perry
1968–1972 Lionel Newsome
1973–1982 Wilbert Greenfield
1983–1994 Robert Albright
1994–2008 Dorothy Cowser Yancy
2008–Present Ronald L. Carter


Johnson C. Smith University offers 23 degree options for undergraduates. Students earn their degree through one of three colleges – the College of Arts and Letters, the College of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the College of Professional Studies.

Metropolitan College offers undergraduate adult degree programs for adults that enhance their opportunities for career advancement and success. Metropolitan College provides adults with flexible, convenient schedules and a variety of course styles including on-campus and online courses, as well as our Flex-Option for courses that include both online and in-class instruction. Metropolitan College offers evening programs for adults in Criminology, Social Work and Business Administration.


Biddle Memorial Hall

Subjects are arranged under the following Colleges:[8]

College of Arts and Letters
  • Communication Arts
  • Criminology
  • English
  • English Education
  • French
  • History
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Music (Concentrations in Music Performance, Music Business and Technology, or Sacred Music)
  • Political Science
  • Psychology (Concentrations in Clinical, Biomedical, or Developmental Psychology)
  • Spanish
  • Social Science
  • Visual and Performing Arts (Concentrations in Dance, Film, Graphic Art, Studio Art, or Theatre)
College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science/Information Systems
  • Information Systems Engineering
  • General Science
  • Mathematics
  • Mathematics Education
College of Professional Studies
  • Business Administration (Concentrations in Accounting, Banking and Finance, International Business, Management, Management Information Systems, Marketing, or Retail Management)
  • Economics
  • Elementary Education
  • Health Education (Concentrations in School Health or Community Health)
  • Physical Education
  • Social Work
  • Sport Management

Student activities[edit]

Due to its location near downtown Charlotte, NC, there are many social and cultural activities for JCSU students and faculty to enjoy, including professional sporting events, theater/movies, concerts, art exhibits, bands, chorale, poetry readings, and dance, among others.


CIAA championships
Basketball (Men's) 2001 • 2008 • 2009
Basketball (Women's) 2009
Football 1969
Tennis (Men's) 1934-1936 • 1938-1944 • 1968 • 1999-2004
Track and Field (Men's) 1969 • 1970 • 1971
Track and Field (Women's) 2011 • 2013 • 2014

Student-athletes compete in intercollegiate and intramural athletics. Students can choose to be involved in various on-campus organizations, including fraternities, sororities, and intramural sports.

JCSU is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division II and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). Its intercollegiate sports programs include basketball, bowling, cross-country, football, golf, softball, volleyball, tennis, and track and field. Its teams are nicknamed the Golden Bulls.

In 2001 the men's basketball team won the CIAA Basketball Tournament and advanced to the Division II Elite Eight. In 2006 the men’s and women’s basketball teams were the CIAA Western Division Champions and the Tournament Runner-ups. In 2007 the men's basketball team were the 2007 CIAA Western Division Champions. In 2008 the men's basketball team won the 2008 CIAA Men's Basketball Championship. In 2009 the men's and women's basketball team won the 2009 CIAA basketball championship.

JCSU's on-campus stadium is called the Irwin Belk Complex which serves as home to the track and field and football teams, though homecoming games are played at the larger American Legion Memorial Stadium.

COMMEMORATIVE CLASSIC: "The Birth of Black College Football"[edit]

On December 27 of 1892, Livingstone College and Biddle College, (Johnson C. Smith) University played in the snows of Salisbury, North Carolina, just two days after Christmas. A writer of a story in the 1930 year-book of Livingstone College provided a glimpse of that December experience when the team from Biddle Institute traveled to Livingstone's Old Delta Grove campus in Salisbury to play while writers recorded the results of a historic moment in sports history.

According to historian T.M. Martin, the men of Biddle spent two years studying and practicing the sport of football. In 1892, they challenged the men of Livingstone, whose team was formally organized in the fall of that year.

It is doubtful that when Biddle University and Livingstone College teed it up on Dec. 27, 1892, in what was described as little more than a cow pasture, no less, if the contestants in this momentous occasion had the slightest inkling of the legacy they were about to give birth to. Games of monumental historical significance, coaches of legendary proportions and players of extraordinary brilliance ultimately emerged from the mother lode that was to become known as the historically Black colleges and universities.

The teams played two 45-minute halves on Livingstone's front lawn. W.J. Trent scored Livingstone's only touchdown on a fumble recovery. By then snow had covered the field's markings and Biddle argued that the fumble was recovered out of bounds. The official ruled in Biddle's favor, allowing them to keep the 5–0 lead that they had established early on and giving JCSU the historic 1st victory! And the rivalry continues. ...[9]

Bowl games[edit]

Johnson C. Smith has made 6 Bowl appearances, winning 4 and losing 2. After an initial appearance in a postseason contest in the 1942 Flower Bowl against Lane College in a shutout, 13-0.

Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA
January 1, 1942 Flower Bowl W Lane College 13 0
January 1, 1946 Cotton-Tobacco Bowl W Allen University 18 6
December 7, 1946 Pecan Bowl L South Carolina State University 6 13
December 3, 1949 Iodine Bowl W Allen University 20 12
December 2, 2006 Pioneer Bowl L Tuskegee University 7 17
December 3, 2011 Pioneer Bowl W Miles College 35 33
Total 6 bowl games 4–2 99 81

Notable alumni[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Frederick C. Branch 1942 first African American officer in the United States Marine Corps
Tyrone Britt 1967 former NBA player who played for the 1967-1968 San Diego Rockets.
Eva M. Clayton 1955 Clayton and Mel Watt were the first African Americans elected to the House of Representatives from North Carolina since 1898 (since Clayton won the special election, she took office before Watt).
Gregory Clifton was an NFL Player with the Washington Redskins and the Carolina Panthers
Dorothy Counts 1964 was one of the first black students admitted to the Harry Harding High School in the United States. After four days of harassment that threatened her safety, her parents forced her to withdraw from the school.
Grover Covington was a Canadian Football League defensive end for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He often led the league in quarterback sacks and was a division All-Star seven times. He won the Schenley Award for Most Outstanding Defensive Player once and also led the Tiger-Cats to a Grey Cup victory in 1986. He finished his career with 157 sacks, a CFL record. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
Charlie S. Dannelly 1962 is a Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly representing the state's thirty-eighth Senate district since 1995. [10]
Bill Davis 1963 legendary college football coach.
De'Audra Dix 2009 2008 Division II 1st Team All-American. He plays for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. He was the starting cornerback when the Alouettes won back-to-back Canadian Football League Grey Cup Championships in 2009 and 2010.
Edward R. Dudley 1932 from the Gainsboro neighborhood of Roanoke, Virginia, was the first African-American to hold the rank of Ambassador of the United States, serving as ambassador to Liberia (where he had been serving with the rank of minister) from 1949 through 1953.
Richard Erwin 1947 In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Erwin as the first black federal judge in North Carolina.
Ferdinand Kwasi Fiawoo 1933 was a Ghanaian minister of religion, playwright and educator, founder of Zion College, the first secondary school in Ghana's Volta Region.
Leford Green 2011 Division II Collegiate Indoor and Outdoor Regional and National Track Athlete of the Year in 2010 and 2011. Green was a member of the 2012 Summer Olympics Jamaican National Olympic Track and Field team.
Chet Grimsley 1978 recognized as the first Euro-American to garner accolades as All-CIAA and All-American at JCSU and at an HBCU. Author of "White Golden Bull."
Larry D. Hall 1978 is an American politician from Durham, North Carolina. A Democrat, he has served in the North Carolina House of Representatives as the member from North Carolina’s 29th representative district since 2006. Hall was appointed to the position in 2006 by then Governor Mike Easley and won reelection in 2008.
Reginald Hawkins First black man to run for state office in North Carolina.
Henry Hill the first African American to become President of the American Chemical Society. [citation needed]
Cheris F. Hodges 1999 author of African American romance novels.
Benny Johnson NFL player
Edward Joyner is the current head men's basketball coach at Hampton University. During the 2010-2011 season, he led Hampton with a 24-9 record and helped lead the team to the second round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament where they lost to Duke, 87-45.
Earl "The Goat" Manigault a Rucker Park legend. Attended JCSU for 1964–65 school year.
Vincent Matthews 1970 winner of two gold medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics and 1972 Summer Olympics. [citation needed]
Eddie McGirt 1948 a CIAA football coach legend.
Mildred Mitchell-Bateman was the first African-American woman to be named to a high-ranking office in West Virginia state government. In 1962, she became director of the Department of Mental Health and served in that capacity for fifteen years. [citation needed]
Fred "Curly" Neal 1962 former member of the Harlem Globetrotters
Pettis Norman 1962 tight end with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers. He is on the top-50 greatest Dallas Cowboys of All-Time. The school's annual award given to the outstanding student-athlete bears his name.
Obie Patterson 1965 former member, Maryland House of Delegates
Don Pullen jazz pianist and organist
Zilner Randolph jazz trumpeter and music educator
James "Twiggy" Sanders 1974 Harlem Globetrotters member
Gary Siplin 1976 politician, Member of the Florida Senate from the 19th district. Siplin sponsored a letter to Governor Rick Scott proposing a Special Prosecutor over the Trayvon Martin case. The governor ultimately decided it was in the best interest of the community to elect a Special Prosecutor to the case
Marvin Scott 1966 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Indiana in 2004
Chris Smith 1992 is a Democratic member of the Florida Senate, representing the 31st District, which includes eastern Broward County since 2012.
Richard Lewis Spencer attended JCSU in 1961. Grammy Award Winner Composer and performer 1969 R&B Song Of The Year "Color Him Father". [citation needed]
Clarence F. Stephens 1938 Ninth African American to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics
John Taylor attended JCSU for one year before he transferred to Delaware State University. He was a member of the 49ers teams that won Super Bowls XXIII, XXIV, and XXIX. He was also a 2xPro Bowler.
Steel Arm Johnny Taylor was a pitcher and played in professional pre-league and Negro league baseball from 1903 to 1925
Sandra L. Townes 1966 District Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Skeets Tolbert Jazz clarinetist
Avon Williams 1940 Tennessee State Senator from 1972 to 1992
Robert F. Williams Civil Rights leader, author, and president of Monroe, NC, NAACP chapter. He wrote the notable book "Negroes with Guns", in 1962. [citation needed]
Shermaine Williams 2011 Jamaican track & field sprinter. First female from Johnson C. Smith University to go to Summer Olympics 2012
Dorothy Cowser Yancy 1964 Educator & Leader: First Woman President of Johnson C Smith University & Shaw University. First black to be promoted and tenured at Georgia Tech. In 1988 Newsweek on Campus selected her as "One of the Six Best Teachers in the U.S. First Female Board President of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). In 1981 she became the first black appointed Special Master for the Florida Public Employee Relations Commission. Led JCSU to become the nation's first "Laptop" university among the historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs). [citation needed]
Draff Young was a National Basketball Association (NBA) coach.

Notable faculty[edit]

Name Department Notability Reference
Henry A. Hunt winner of the Spingarn Medal award. In the 1930s Hunt was invited to participate in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Black Cabinet.
Edward Jackson one of the greatest HBCU football coaches of all-time. His all-time coaching record is 141–62–12. His record at JCSU is 30–14–4.
Mike Minter former NFL safety for the Carolina Panthers
Donnie Shell former NFL safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played for the fame Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s. [citation needed]
George L. White founder and music director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers [citation needed]
Daniel J. Sanders first African American to become President of a four-year southern university. [citation needed]
Steve Wilks secondary coach for the Carolina Panthers.


External links[edit]