College of Charleston

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
College of Charleston
CoCharleston seal.png
Motto Sapientia Ipsa Libertas
Ædes Mores Juraque Curat
Motto in English
"Wisdom itself is liberty."
She Cares for Her Temples, Customs and Rights.
Type Public liberal arts college
Space grant
Sea grant
Established 1770
Endowment $71.7 million[1]
President Glenn McConnell
Administrative staff
Undergraduates 10,488
Postgraduates 1,454
Location Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
Campus 52 acres (21 ha)
Colors Maroon and White
Athletics NCAA Division ICAA
Nickname Cougars
Affiliations ORAU
Mascot Cougar
CofC wordmark.png

The College of Charleston (also known as CofC, The College, or simply, Charleston) is a public sea-grant and space-grant university located in historic downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States. Founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785,[2] it is the oldest college in South Carolina, the 13th oldest institution of higher learning[3] in the United States, and the oldest municipal college in the country.[4] The founders of The College include three (at that time) future signers[5] of the Declaration of Independence (Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton and Thomas Heyward) and three future signers[5] of the United States Constitution (John Rutledge, Charles Pinckney and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney). Founded to "encourage and institute youth in the several branches of liberal education," the university is one of the oldest universities[3] in the United States.


Randolph Hall is the main academic building on the College of Charleston campus and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Porters Lodge
College of Charleston Complex:Randolph Hall, Towell Library and Porters Lodge
College of Charleston is located in South Carolina
College of Charleston
College of Charleston is located in the US
College of Charleston
Location Glebe, George, St. Philip and Green streets, Charleston, South Carolina
Area 4 acres (1.6 ha)[6]
Built 1827
Architect Edward B. White; George E. Walker; Et al.
Architectural style Early Republic, Other
NRHP reference # 71000748
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 11, 1971[7]
Designated NHL November 11, 1971[8]

Founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785, the College of Charleston is the oldest institution of higher education in South Carolina. During the colonial period, wealthy families sent their sons abroad or to universities in Middle Atlantic and Northern colonies for higher education. By the mid-18th century, many leading citizens supported the idea of establishing an institution of higher learning within the state. On January 30, 1770, Lieutenant Governor William Bull recommended to the colony's general assembly the establishment of a provincial college. However, internal disagreements, political rivalries and the American Revolution delayed its progress. After the war, South Carolinians returned their attention to establishing a college.

On March 19, 1785, the College of Charleston was chartered to "encourage and institute youth in the several branches of liberal education." The act of the statehouse provided for three colleges simultaneously: one in Charleston, one in Winnsboro and one in Cambridge.[9] The Act also granted the college almost 9 acres (3.6 ha) of land bounded by present-day Calhoun, St. Philip, Coming and George streets; three-fourths of the land was sold to pay debts, but the college is still centered in that section of Charleston.[10] Of the three established colleges listed above, only the College of Charleston remains today.

The college was rechartered in 1791 because of questions about the 1785 Act, and the trustees hired Reverend (later Bishop) Robert Smith as the first president of the college, and some classes were held at his home on Glebe Street (the current home of the College of Charleston president).[11]

Robert Smith served as the college's first president. Educated in England, he was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church and relocated to Charleston, where he served as rector of Saint Philip's Church. During the American Revolution, he supported the Patriot cause and even served as a soldier during the siege of the city. He later became the first Episcopal bishop of South Carolina. He relocated the school to a brick range which had been constructed for use as quarters for soldiers during the Revolutionary War.[10]

Dr. Smith continued as the president until 1797. It was during his term (1794) that the school graduated its first class with the degree of A.B., a class which consisted of six students. The oldest of the students was only 18, and the work for a degree was considered so easy that one of its first graduates said that "the whole thing was absurd."[10]

Upon the resignation of Dr. Smith in 1797, the school became sporadic and eventually closed completely in 1811. It was revived in 1824 with the hiring of Rev. Jasper Adams from Brown University for a salary of $2500.[12] Rev. Adams' plans for enlarging the school met opposition both locally and from the General Assembly, which found his plans antagonistic to the interest of the South Carolina College (today known as the University of South Carolina).

Adams left the school in 1826, and the future of the college appeared bleak. In 1837, however, the City of Charleston decided that it would be in the city's interest to have a "home college." In 1837, the city council took over control of the school and assumed the responsibility for its finances and for electing its trustees.[13] As such, it became the nation's first municipal college.[14] In 1850, the city provided funds to enlarge the main academic building (Randolph Hall,) to construct Porters Lodge, and to fence the block that is still the core of the campus known as Cistern Yard. It remained a municipal college until the 1950s, when the college again became a private institution as a way to avoid racial integration.

Several of the college's founders played key roles in the American Revolution and in the creation of the new republic. Three were signers of the Declaration of Independence and another three were framers of the U.S. Constitution. Other founders were past, present and future federal and state lawmakers[15] and judges,[15] state governors, diplomats and Charleston councilmen and mayors.

During the Civil War, many students and faculty left to serve the Confederacy. Despite dwindling student numbers and a long-running siege of the city by Federal troops, there was no suspension of classes until December 19, 1864, two months before the city was evacuated.

In 1864, Charleston was in ruins following federal bombardment of the city. The revival of the college was doubtful due to lack of funds and the destruction of many buildings. Ephraim M. Baynard of Edisto Island gave $161,200 to save the College of Charleston. The Ephraim M. Baynard plaque in Harrison Randolph Hall at the College of Charleston commemorates this gift, without which it may have been impossible to continue. Classes resumed on February 1, 1866 and over the next four decades the college weathered several financial crises, reconstruction, hurricanes and the devastating earthquake of 1886. Until the 20th century, students who attended the college were primarily Charlestonians.

Harrison Randolph (president, 1897–1945) changed that by building residence halls and creating scholarships to attract students from other parts of the state. Under President Randolph, women were admitted to the college and the enrollment increased from just 68 students in 1905 to more than 400 in 1935. When World War I began, most of the senior class left for war and the unseen before demands on women pushed President Randolph to make the college coeducational, beginning in 1918.[16][17]. For many institutions of higher education across the South, integration took place in the late 1960s. For the college, the first black students enrolled in 1967.

The enrollment remained at about 500 until the college became a state institution in 1970. During Theodore Stern's presidency (1968–1979), the number of students increased to about 5,000 and the facilities expanded from fewer than ten buildings to more than 100. Between 1979 and 2001, the enrollment continued to increase, climbing to more than 10,000, and attracting students from across the country and around the world.

The College of Charleston Complex: Main Building, Library and Gate Lodge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and further declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971.[6][8] These three buildings, finished in part in what has been termed "Pompeian red" stucco and brick, represent a unique and harmonious collection of Roman Revival structures.[6] Randolph Hall, the main building, was designed by William Strickland, was built in 1828-29 and was revised in 1850 by the work of Edward Brickell White which added six monumental Ionic columns, and otherwise developed a more grandiose vision. The Gate Lodge, designed by White and now known as Porters Lodge, was built in 1852 in a matching Roman Revival style. The Towell Library was designed by George E. Walker and was built in 1854-1856.[6]

Under the leadership of President Lee Higdon (2001–2006), the college embarked on an ambitious, multi-year plan designed to enhance the overall student experience, increase the faculty and student support staff and upgrade and expand facilities. The college renovated many historic structures and opened several new buildings, including two new residence halls, the Beatty Center (School of Business and Economics), new facilities for the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance [3] and the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library. The building boom continues today, with the new TD Arena on Meeting Street, the John Kresse Arena sports complex, the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts, a new science center, a new research and residence facility at the Grice Marine Laboratory (at Fort Johnson on James Island), and the first phase of construction at the Dixie Plantation site, the former home of John Henry Dick in St. Paul's Parish.

Today, the College of Charleston is led by its 22nd president, Glenn F. McConnell (Class of 1969), the third alumnus to serve in the top position. President McConnell's vision of the college centers around the ideas of accessibility, affordability and inclusivity, and his administration is working to make the College a driving force behind economic development initiatives in South Carolina, while still retaining its traditions in the liberal arts and sciences.

College of Charleston today[edit]

Albert Simons Center for the Arts
Communication buildings

Although existing as a small, private liberal arts college for much of its early history, the College of Charleston is today a public university with a combined graduate/undergraduate enrollment of over 11,000. The college retains its liberal arts heritage through its core curriculum, which includes a heavy emphasis on languages, literature, history, sciences and the arts.

The College of Charleston consists of seven academic schools, as well as the Honors College and the Graduate School of the University of Charleston, S.C.

  • The School of the Arts hosts South Carolina’s flagship undergraduate arts program in music, studio art and theatre and also includes one of the few independent art history departments in North America, one of the nation’s only undergraduate arts management programs and a prominent undergraduate program combining historic preservation and community planning. The School of the Arts also administers the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art whose mission is to "advocate, exhibit and interpret visual art, with an emphasis on contemporary art".[18] The Halsey Institute was named in honor of William Melton Halsey who was the founding faculty for the studio art department and taught painting and drawing at the college from 1965-1984.
  • The School of Business instructs undergraduate and graduate students in the essential critical-thinking, leadership and communication skills they will need to be responsible, ethical contributors to the global marketplace. The school offers seven undergraduate majors (accounting, business administration, economics, finance, hospitality and tourism management, marketing, and international business), an accelerated master of business administration program, a master of science in accountancy and several minors and concentrations, including finance and entrepreneurship.
  • The School of Education, Health, and Human Performance prepares students for careers in education and health professions, such as exercise science and athletic training, through academic coursework, field experience and clinical practice. The school partners with schools and businesses in the Charleston area to provide hands-on learning experiences for students.
  • The School of Humanities and Social Sciences cultivates writing and critical-thinking skills in students and offers a number of disciplines traditionally associated with a liberal arts and sciences education, including psychology, anthropology, communication, English, history, philosophy, political science, religious studies and sociology.
  • The School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs includes one of the most comprehensive language programs in the Southeast, in-depth majors in classical and modern languages, overseas study programs, specialized programs for future language professionals and offerings in several less-commonly taught languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew and Hindi.
  • The School of Professional Studies provides greater accessibility to adult learners and non-traditional students in the Charleston region and houses the Bachelor of Professional Studies Program and the Center for Continuing and Professional Education.
  • The School of Sciences and Mathematics is home to the state’s flagship marine biology program and extremely well regarded departments such as biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics and physics. The school receives generous external research support each year, giving students opportunities for independent research in addition to significant involvement in inquiry-based learning in the classroom and teaching laboratory.
  • The Honors College challenges intellectually talented students to customize and maximize their educations through team-taught Honors classes (with an interdisciplinary focus), research opportunities with top faculty members and an independent-study project that culminates in a bachelor’s essay.
  • The Graduate School of the University of Charleston, S.C. offers 19 master’s degree programs and seven certificate programs. Each is designed to take advantage of the unique opportunities provided by the people, institutions and environment of the South Carolina Lowcountry and imparts specialized knowledge and training to its students.


The college's 19 varsity sports teams participate in the NCAA Division I Colonial Athletic Association and are known as the Cougars. The Cougars compete at a variety of athletics facilities in the Charleston area, including the TD Arena (f/k/a the Carolina First Arena),[19] the J. Stewart Walker Sailing Complex, Johnson Center Squash Courts, Patriots Point Athletic Complex and the Links at Stono Ferry. College of Charleston Athletics are supported by the Cougar Club, which was established in 1974. During the 1970-71 school year, College of Charleston students voted to change the school nickname from the Maroons to the Cougars, in honor of a cougar that had recently arrived at the Charles Towne Landing zoo. Clyde the Cougar is the college's current mascot.[20]


The College of Charleston’s main campus in downtown Charleston includes 11 residence halls, 19 historic homes, five fraternity houses and nine sorority houses. It contains a mix of modern and historic buildings. In 1971, the college demolished four antebellum buildings at 6 Green Street (c. 1815), 14 College Street (c. 1845), a kitchen house behind 10 Green Street, and a carriage house behind 10 Green Street.[21]

Outside of downtown Charleston, the college campus includes the Grice Marine Lab on James Island, the J. Stewart Walker Sailing Center and the Patriots Point Athletic Complex in Mount Pleasant, the North Campus in North Charleston and the 862-acre (349 ha) Dixie Plantation on the Stono River.

The College of Charleston downtown campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, the Avery Institute, which is now the home to the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, and the William Blacklock House are also listed individually on the register.

The College of Charleston has been noted for its beautiful campus. In 2014, it was ranked as one of the top 10 best landscaped colleges on the east coast.[22]

College of Charleston and the media[edit]

Due to the historic look and beauty of the campus, many movies and television shows have been filmed at the College of Charleston, including General Hospital, North and South, The View, Cold Mountain, The Patriot, White Squall, Wife Swap, O, The Notebook, Dear John, and Mandie. The most popular scene location is Randolph Hall. In 2008, productions shooting on campus thus far include the television show Army Wives and feature film, The New Daughter, starring Kevin Costner.

In 2004, the first televised debate between U.S. Senate candidates Jim DeMint and Inez Tenenbaum was filmed in Alumni Hall. ABC's The View and CNN's Crossfire also took up residence on the College of Charleston Cistern Yard before the South Carolina presidential primary in 2000. John Kerry officially endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama in the Cistern Yard in 2008.

"The Bully Pulpit Series: Reflections on Presidential Communication” is a series hosted by the College of Charleston and its Department of Communication that welcomes presidential candidates from the two major political parties to the College of Charleston campus to discuss the importance of presidential communication. Candidates speak with students and Charleston community members on such topics as the frequency of press conferences, the candidate's relationship with journalists and the power of the president to persuade. Major candidates appearing in the 2007–2008 series have included Senator John McCain, Congressman Ron Paul, President Barack Obama and Senator John Edwards. Sponsored by the Allstate Insurance Company in 2007–08, the series has drawn over 6,000 attendees and received national and international media coverage.[23] Major candidates appearing in the 2015-16 series have included Senator Lindsey Graham and former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley.[24]

In August 2017, the College hosted NASA for its live coverage of the solar eclipse.

Student life[edit]

Student media[edit]

Student media has actively consolidated to a single network under the name CisternYard Media. Under this umbrella is a student-run newspaper called CisternYard News that is online with a quarterly print insert called The Yard. There is also a student-run radio station called Cistern Yard Radio. There is also CisternYard Video, and a literary organization called Miscellany included in the CisternYard Media umbrella. The English Department at the College of Charleston publishes Crazyhorse, a national literary magazine.

Greek life[edit]

Greek Life has been active on campus for 120 years. There are 10 active IFC fraternities, 10 active panhellenic sororities, and 7 NPHC fraternities and sororities on campus. The College of Charleston is home to the Alpha Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi, founded in 1904 at the college. The Alpha Chapter House is located on Coming Street adjacent to the College.[25]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ College of Charleston Foundation Endowment Asset Allocation as of June 30, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  2. ^ "A Brief History of the College - College of Charleston". Retrieved 2017-08-16. 
  3. ^ a b Colonial Colleges
  4. ^ Municipal college; Easterby, J.H. (1935)"Appendix I: Charters and Other Documents in A History of the College of Charleston, pp. 252. USA: The Scribner Press
  5. ^ a b Library of Congress [1]
  6. ^ a b c d Staff, National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings (August 1971). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: College of Charleston Complex: Main Building, Library and Gate Lodge" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-22.  and Accompanying four photos, exterior and interior, from 1970 (1.43 MB)
  7. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  8. ^ a b "College of Charleston". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  9. ^ Colyer Meriwether (1889). History of Higher Education in South Carolina. Government Printing Office. p. 56. Retrieved Dec 27, 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c Colyer Meriwether (1889). History of Higher Education in South Carolina. Government Printing Office. p. 57. Retrieved Dec 27, 2009. 
  11. ^ mith+was+the+first+president+of+College+of+Charleston&source=bl&ots=DBcRyd4Cor &sig=5pky6oRXV10efNoEWSONLiiUgQo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiY6_iO2O3VAhXDT SYKHcBZAh4Q6AEIaTAL#v=onepage&q=robert%20smith%20was%20the%20first%20pre sident%20of%20College%20of%20Charleston&f=false
  12. ^ Colyer Meriwether (1889). History of Higher Education in South Carolina. Government Printing Office. p. 58. Retrieved Dec 27, 2009. 
  13. ^ Colyer Meriwether (1889). History of Higher Education in South Carolina. Government Printing Office. p. 62. Retrieved Dec 27, 2009. 
  14. ^ Municipal college; Easterby, J.H.(1935)"Appendix I: Charters and Other Documents in A History of the College of Charleston," pp. 252. USA: The Scribner Press
  15. ^ a b Easterby, J.H. (1935) "The Beginning of Instruction" and "Appendix II: Register of Officers and Students" in A History of the College of Charleston, pp. 20-22 and pp. 258–264. USA: The Scribner Press
  16. ^ F
  17. ^ o
  18. ^ "Mission". Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. 
  19. ^ Whetzel, Melissa (2011-08-23). "College, TD Bank Sign Naming Agreement for Arena - College of Charleston News : College of Charleston News". Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  20. ^ College of Charleston To Join Colonial Athletic Association, 11/30/2012
  21. ^ Stockton, Robert P. (February 12, 1971). "Demolition of Historic Houses Begun by College". News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. pp. 1B. Retrieved April 19, 2016. 
  22. ^ Farley, Ryan. "The Top 10 Best Landscaped Colleges – East Coast". Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  23. ^ The Bully Pulpit Series at the College of Charleston Archived 2008-12-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ The Bully Pulpit Series at the College of Charleston
  25. ^ [2] Archived August 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°47′3″N 79°56′17″W / 32.78417°N 79.93806°W / 32.78417; -79.93806