Catawba College

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Catawba College
Catawba College logo.jpg
Motto Scholarship. Character. Culture. Service.
Type Private
Established 1851
Affiliation United Church of Christ
President Brien Lewis[1]
Academic staff
Undergraduates 1,322
Location Salisbury, North Carolina, USA
Sports NCAA Division II, South Atlantic Conference
Colors Catawba Blue and White
Nickname Cat–U
Affiliations United Church of Christ

Catawba College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college in Salisbury, North Carolina, USA. Founded in 1851 by the North Carolina Classis of the Reformed Church in Newton, the college adopted its name from its county of origin, Catawba County, before moving to its current home of Salisbury in 1925.

Today, Catawba College still holds loose ties with the successor to the Reformed Church, the United Church of Christ, and offers more than thirty undergraduate degrees.

In 2009, Catawba College was listed as 17th in the U.S. News and World Report in the category "Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the South."[2] Catawba College has been consistently named as one of the "361 Best Colleges" by the Princeton Review, and the school's theatre program is consistently rated as one of the top 10 in the nation,[3] and in 2011 alone, winning 8 awards from the Metrolina Theatre Association for their production of Bright Lights, Big City.[4] Since 2008, In Tune Monthly has named Catawba College one of the best music schools in the country in an annual cover story.[5]


Catawba College was founded by the North Carolina Classis of the Reformed Church in the United States in 1851. The years following the opening of the college were years of growing prosperity for the school, but the Civil War changed this as funds and students became less available. During the war years, the College became an academy, operating as Catawba High School from 1865 until 1885, whereupon it resumed operations under its original charter as Catawba College. Catawba became coeducational in 1890. Even with the addition of women to the student body, the College struggled to overcome the depletion brought on by the war. Responding to the offer of a partially constructed dormitory-administration building and several acres of land in Salisbury, trustee, college, and church officials closed the campus in Newton in 1923 and re-opened in Salisbury in 1925.

The college is now affiliated with the United Church of Christ, the successor to the Evangelical and Reformed Church, itself the successor to the Reformed Church in the United States.[6]


Catawba College offers over 70 fields of study in a variety of disciplines, including athletic training, biology, business administration, chemistry, communication arts, education, English, environmental science, history, integrated marketing communication, mathematics, music, music business, music education, musical theatre, physical education, political science and pre-law, pop music, pre-med, pre-ministerial, pre-pharmacy, psychology, recreation, religion, philosophy, sociology, Spanish, sport management, sustainable business and community development, theatre arts, and more.

A variety of minors are also available. Students may also be invited to participate in the College's Honors Program. Other special programs and college centers include the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values, the Writing Center, the Math Center, Sustainable Catawba, Volunteer Catawba, the Center for the Environment, Career Services, the Curriculum Materials Center, Summer School, and Winter Term.[7]

For working adults, Catawba's School of Evening and Graduate Studies offers the Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.), with concentrations in Business Management, Information Systems, and Administration of Justice. In conjunction with the Department of Teacher Education, the Bachelor of Arts in Education (B.A.E.) degree may be earned with a major in Birth – Kindergarten Education; at the graduate level, the Master of Education degree in elementary education is also offered.

Shirley Peeler Richie Academy for Teaching[edit]

As part of an ongoing emphasis on teacher education, Catawba announced the creation of the West Scholars Program in 2006. The highly competitive program offers a substantial scholarship, up to $15,000 for North Carolina residents, in addition to "leadership seminars, community, service, scholarly researched presentations" and various other benefits.[8] In addition to the West Scholars, Catawba added the distinction of being one of only 18 institutions in North Carolina to offer a N.C. Teaching Fellows program for the 2009–2010 academic year. Promoting education in North Carolina, the program offers a full tuition award to the participants.[9]

Center for the Environment[edit]

The Center for the Environment was established in 1996 to educate students, faculty, staff and the public about environmental stewardship and sustainability. A catalyst for advancing sustainable solutions, it has assumed a leadership role in the region, serving as a model and lending its expertise on issues ranging from air and water quality to land preservation and sustainable development. Since its inception, it has provided opportunities for students to work with community members in addressing issues of sustainability.[10]

The sustainable building that houses the Center, which opened in 2001, was hailed by the top state environmental official as “the wave of the future in resource and energy efficiency.” Everything about the building – from site design to the environmentally friendly building materials and green furnishings, from energy and water conservation issues to recycling and waste management – is grounded in principles of sustainability. It is a three-dimensional incarnation of the Center’s curriculum – an excellent teaching tool as well as an environmentally sound project. Adjacent to the Center is the college’s 187-acre ecological preserve which, along with its 300-acre wildlife refuge, gives Catawba students ample opportunities for analyzing ecosystems and learning about conservation management.[11]


Catawba's athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference as the Catawba College Indians; named after the Catawba Indian tribe that was native to the original location of the school.

Catawba features 18 NCAA Division II men's and women's sports. The men's teams are Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Tennis, and Swimming. The women's teams are Basketball, Cross Country, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, and Volleyball. Catawba also has a Cheerleading program, which is co-ed.

The Catawba College football team holds the distinction of winning not only the inaugural, but 2nd annual Tangerine Bowl, now known as the Capital One Bowl, without allowing the opposing teams to score a single point. On Jan. 1, 1947, they defeated Maryville College 31–0 and on Jan. 1, 1948 they defeated Marshall University 7–0.

Indians nickname[edit]

In 2005, the NCAA cited Catawba College as a school with a "hostile" and/or "abusive" nickname. While the NCAA cannot force a school to change a nickname, it promised to deny post-season hosting privileges to schools in violation.[12] In response to the designation, Catawba College officials filed a formal appeal to continue use of the "Catawba Indians" name. Citing the approval of the remaining members of the Catawba Indian tribe, the NCAA granted the appeal on the condition the college use the tribe specific nickname of the Catawba Indians when referring to the nickname as opposed to simply the "Indians."[13]

Notable alumni[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Francis B. Dedmond, Catawba: The Story of a College. Boone, NC: Arromondt House, 1989.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°41′29″N 80°29′04″W / 35.6914°N 80.4844°W / 35.6914; -80.4844