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Bethune–Cookman University

Coordinates: 29°12′37″N 81°01′50″W / 29.2103°N 81.0306°W / 29.2103; -81.0306
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Bethune–Cookman University
Former name
Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Girls (1904–1927)
Cookman Institute for Boys (1872–1927)
Daytona Cookman Collegiate Institute (1927–1941)
Bethune–Cookman College (1941–2007)
MottoOn seal: "Heart, Head, Hand"
"Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve"[1]
TypePrivate historically-black university
EstablishedOctober 3, 1904; 119 years ago (October 3, 1904)
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
Academic affiliations
Endowment$47.8 million (2016)[2]
PresidentLawrence Drake (interim)
Students2,513 (fall 2021)[3]
Location, ,
United States

29°12′37″N 81°01′50″W / 29.2103°N 81.0306°W / 29.2103; -81.0306
CampusSmall City[4], 85.5 acres (34.6 ha)
NewspaperVoice of the Wildcats[5]
ColorsMaroon and gold
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I FCS - SWAC
MascotWil D Cat

Bethune–Cookman University (B–CU or Bethune–Cookman) is a private historically black university in Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune–Cookman University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The primary administration building, White Hall, and the Mary McLeod Bethune Home are two historic locations.


Mary McLeod Bethune with a group of students in 1943

Mary McLeod Bethune founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904. The first students met in the home of John Henry and Alice Smith Williams.[6] The school underwent growth and development through the years. In 1923, it merged with the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida, founded in 1872, and became a co-ed high school. Bethune-Cookman College is a result of the merger in 1923 of the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Girls, founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and Cookman Institute for Boys, founded in Jacksonville in 1872 by Rev. D.S. Darnell. The new institution, called the Daytona Cookman Collegiate Institute, became affiliated with the Board of Education of the Methodist Church. By 1931 the school had become a junior college.

In 1941, a four-year degree program was developed in liberal arts and teacher training. The school became a four-year college in 1941 when the Florida Department of Education approved a four-year baccalaureate program in Liberal Arts and Teacher Education. The name was changed to Bethune–Cookman College. In 1943, two years later, the first group of graduates received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. In 1947, the college received an "A" rating from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Florida State Department of Education. In 1988, Bethune-Cookman College was admitted to candidacy status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to offer a master's degree in science education.

On February 14, 2007, the Board of Trustees approved a name change to Bethune–Cookman University.[7]

In May 2017, Bethune–Cookman University faced criticism when it invited Betsy DeVos to speak at the commencement.[8][9][10] Students and public outcry created a petition on change.org titled "Stop Betsy DeVos from delivering the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University". Many questioned the school's decision on social media and beyond, accusing Betsy DeVos of undermining historically black colleges and universities. The incident led to security measures, including alerts on the school's website on allowed bags.[11] The university homepage stated, "Commencement Bag Policy: All bags will be searched prior to entry into the Ocean Center...".[12][13] During her address, a majority of the crowd booed DeVos, with students standing up and turning their backs to her.[14]

The university was placed on probation by its regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, in the summer of 2018. The accreditor cited failings in multiple areas, including integrity, governing board characteristics, financial resources, financial responsibility, and control of finances. The accreditation action followed significant financial losses by the university - $28 million over the previous two years - and multiple lawsuits, including one filed by the university against a former president alleging fraud and bribery related to a $306 million construction deal. The nursing program had been placed on probation by its accreditor a few months earlier, related to academic issues.[15] In September 2020, the university was taken off probation and maintained its accreditation.[16]


Bethune retired in 1942, at which time James A. Colston became president. In 1946 Bethune resumed the presidency for a year.

Richard V. Moore Sr. became president in 1947. During his tenure, the college was accredited in 1970 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It joined the United Negro College Fund and other academic and professional organizations. The curriculum expanded, student enrollment increased, and new buildings were constructed for residential housing and classrooms.

Oswald P. Bronson Sr., a B–CU alumnus, served as the fourth president of the college from 1975 to 2004. During his tenure increased student enrollment led to the construction of more student housing, classroom buildings, and the Mary Mcleod Bethune Auditorium. Major fields of study increased from 12 in 1975 to 37 by 2004. In addition, seven continuing education centers were established throughout the state. While maintaining accreditation, the Florida Board of Education added new accreditation in the Nursing and Teacher Education programs.

In August 2004, Trudie Kibbe Reed was appointed to the presidency. She was the first woman president since Bethune. Campus improvements have included the construction of the Center for Civic Engagement, the L. Gale Lemerand School of Nursing, the creation of the Alexis Pugh and Eugene Zimmerman Scholarship houses, and the provision of a university-owned house as an alumni center during her tenure.

Edison O. Jackson was appointed as the university's interim president in May 2012. Jackson was appointed to the presidency in May 2013 and was committed to serving a 6-year term. In July 2017, Jackson announced his resignation[17] and the Board of Trustees appointed retired judge Hubert L. Grimes as the Interim President.[18] In January 2018, the university sued Jackson and others involved in a $306 million construction deal alleging fraud, corruption, and bribery.[19]

E. LaBrent Chrite, Ph.D., former dean of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, became the seventh president of B–CU on July 1, 2019.[20][21]


Bethune–Cookman University offers 39 bachelor's degrees and six master's degrees through one of the following schools and colleges:[22]

Bethune-Cookman's Performing Arts Center
  • Nursing
  • Business & Entrepreneurship
  • Education
  • Graduate Studies
  • Health Sciences
  • Hospitality Management
  • Liberal Arts
  • Online & Professional Studies
  • Performing Arts & Communication
  • Science, Engineering, Mathematics
  • Undergraduate Studies
  • Religion


As of 2023, Bethune–Cookman admitted 100% of applicants, B–CU requiring neither ACT nor SAT test scores for admission, but with the average enrolled student who submitted scores having an SAT score of 905 or an ACT score of 16.5.[3]


As of 2023, U.S. News & World Report ranked B–CU #156-201 out of 201 National Liberal Arts Colleges, tied for #49 out of 79 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and tied for #18 out of 196 Top Performers on Social Mobility.[3]


The Harrison Rhodes Memorial Library was the original library of Bethune–Cookman College which was a tribute to author Harrison Rhodes of the wealthy Rhodes family. Harrison, along with his sister Margaret, championed the then Daytona Normal and Industrial School for Negro Girls. Upon Margaret's death, the balance of the Rhodes estate, some $560,000, was given to Bethune–Cookman College. The Harrison Rhodes Memorial building still exists as a campus hall after having been replaced by the Carl S. Swisher Library in 1941, which was mainly financed by the wealthy tobacco industrialist and philanthropist Carl S. Swisher.[23]


BCU flag

Bethune-Cookman is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and participates in NCAA Division I FCS.[24] Bethune-Cookman sponsors 15 athletic programs.[25]

Student organizations[edit]

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[26] Total
Black 81% 81
Other[a] 10% 10
Hispanic 5% 5
Foreign national 2% 2
White 1% 1
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 81% 81
Affluent[c] 19% 19

Bethune-Cookman has more than 80 student organizations on campus. This includes academic and honor societies, Greek fraternities and sororities, Greek-letter professional and service organizations, community service groups, leadership organizations, performance groups, and international and religious-based organizations.[27]

The Marching Wildcats[edit]

The Marching Wildcats (The Pride) of Bethune–Cookman create the "BCU" formation while playing before a packed Citrus Bowl Stadium at the Florida Classic.

Bethune-Cookman's marching band is known as "The Marching Wildcats." The marching band is the largest student organization on campus with over 300 members and starred in the Netflix series Marching Orders.[28]

The marching band organization began in 1930 with only 30 instrumentalists.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


  1. ^ "Student Handbook" (PDF). Bethune–Cookman University. p. 19. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 3, 2011. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  2. ^ "Bethune-Cookman University". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Bethune-Cookman University". usnews.com. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  4. ^ "College Navigator - Bethune-Cookman University". nces.ed.gov. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  5. ^ "Home". bcuvoice.com.
  6. ^ Collier-Thomas, Bettye (Summer 1982). "The Impact of Black Women in Education: An Historical Perspective". The Journal of Negro Education. 51 (3). Howard University: 179. JSTOR 2294687.
  7. ^ Jacobson, Susan (February 15, 2007). "Bethune university a college no more". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  8. ^ Gibbons, Lauren. "Bethune-Cookman students, alumni still pushing to stop Betsy DeVos speech". MLive.com. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  9. ^ Parker, Najja (May 3, 2017). "Why #BlackTwitter is upset about Betsy DeVos as Bethune-Cookman University's graduation speaker". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  10. ^ Parker, Najja (May 3, 2017). "Students protest Betsy Devos as Bethune-Cookman University commencement speaker". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved May 10, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Alerts: Bag Policy". Bethune–Cookman University. May 10, 2017. Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  12. ^ "Bethune-Cookman University". May 10, 2017. Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  13. ^ "Petition - Dr. Jackson: StopDeVosAtBethuneCookmanUniversity - Change". May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.[dead link]
  14. ^ Susan Svrluga (May 10, 2017). "Students boo Betsy DeVos as commencement speaker at historically black university". The Washington Post.
  15. ^ Jarmusz, T.S. (June 15, 2018). "B-CU slapped with probation; Hubert Grimes blames media, lawsuits". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  16. ^ Villanueva-Marquez, Victoria. "Bethune-Cookman maintains accreditation after being placed on probation in 2018". Daytona Beach News-Journal Online.
  17. ^ "B-CU Board of Trustees to meet Wednesday to start a search for an interim president". July 12, 2017. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  18. ^ cmaadmin (July 13, 2017). "Bethune-Cookman Appoints Interim President Grimes". Diverse. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  19. ^ Jarmusz, T.S. (January 24, 2018). "B-CU sues former president Edison Jackson over dorm deal". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  20. ^ Jarmusz, T.S. (April 23, 2019). "B-CU taps University of Denver's Brent Chrite as 7th president". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  21. ^ Martin, Annie (April 23, 2019). "With future in doubt, Bethune-Cookman names new president". orlandosentinel.com. Archived from the original on April 23, 2019. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  22. ^ "Colleges and Schools". Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  23. ^ Guthrie, Ana (2012). "The History of Florida's Four FBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) Libraries". Florida Libraries. 55 (2): 41.
  24. ^ "Bethune-Cookman To Join The SWAC In 2021". Bethune-Cookman University Athletics. June 25, 2020.
  25. ^ "MEAC History". Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "College Scorecard: Bethune–Cookman University". United States Department of Education. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  27. ^ "About Student Activities | Bethune-Cookman University". Archived from the original on December 13, 2020. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  28. ^ "B-CU marching band featured on Netflix series".
  29. ^ "MABC". MABC. Retrieved March 11, 2023.

External links[edit]