Johnson C. Smith University

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Johnson C. Smith University
JCSU seal.png
Seal of Johnson C. Smith University
Former names
Biddle Memorial Institute
Biddle University
Motto Sit Lux
Motto in English
Let There Be Light
Type Private, HBCU
Established 1867
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, U.S.
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 IICentral Intercollegiate Athletic Association
Sports basketball
track and field
Nickname Golden Bulls
Mascot The Golden Bull
Affiliations Presbyterian Church
Johnson C. Smith University Logo.png
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
NRHP Reference # 75001281[4]
Added to NRHP October 14, 1975

Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is a private, co-ed, historically black four-year research university in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and 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.


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]

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
  • Economics
  • Elementary Education
  • Health Education
  • 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.



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.

Notable alumni[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Trezzvant Anderson was an American journalist, publicist, and war correspondent.
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. [9]
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.
Bill Dusenbery American football player
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.
Malcolm Graham 1985 is a Democratic member of the North Carolina Senate, representing District 40.
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.
Henry Aaron Hill 1936 was an American fluorocarbon chemist who became the first African American president of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Cheris F. Hodges 1999 author of African American romance novels.
Benny Johnson 1970 NFL player who played 5 seasons as a cornerback and a kick returner.
Edward Joyner 1994 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.
Eddie McGirt 1948 a CIAA football coach legend.
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.
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
Danielle Williams 2015 is a Jamaican athlete specialising in the sprint hurdles. She is best known for winning the gold medal at the 2015 World Championships.
Shermaine Williams 2011 Jamaican track & field sprinter. First female from Johnson C. Smith University to go to Summer Olympics 2012
Draff Young was a National Basketball Association (NBA) coach.

Notable faculty[edit]

Name Department Notability Reference
Henry A. Hunt Professor winner of the Spingarn Medal award. In the 1930s Hunt was invited to participate in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Black Cabinet.
Edward Jackson Football Coach 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 Football Assistant coach former NFL safety for the Carolina Panthers
Steve Wilks Football Assistant coach secondary coach for the Carolina Panthers.


External links[edit]