Seal of Rust College
|Motto||By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them|
|Affiliation||United Methodist Church
|President||Dr. David L. Beckley|
|Students||700 to 900 (fluctuates from module to module)|
|Location||Holly Springs, Mississippi,
Rust College is a historically black liberal arts college located in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Located approximately 35 miles southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, it is the second-oldest private college in the state. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, it is one of ten historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) founded before 1868 that is still operating.
One of the oldest colleges for African Americans in the United States, Rust was founded on November 24, 1866 by Northern missionaries with a group called the Freedman's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1870, the college was chartered as Shaw University in 1870, honoring the Reverend S. O. Shaw, who made a gift of $10,000 to the institution which, adjusted for inflation, is the equivalent of approximately $190,000 in 2015. In 1882, to avoid confusion with Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., the institution changed its name to Rust University—a tribute to Rev. Richard S. Rust of Cincinnati, Ohio, the secretary of the Freedman's Aid Society. In 1915, the institution assumed the name Rust College. Rust College is the oldest of the 11 historically black colleges and universities associated with The United Methodist Church, the second oldest private college in Mississippi, and one of the five historically black colleges that were founded before 1867.
Rust College maintains five divisions or departments of study: Division of Education, Division of Humanities, Division of Science and Mathematics, Division of Social Sciences, and the Division of Business. Degree programs are offered in sixteen areas of study. Upon completion of their studies at Rust, students can receive Associate's degrees or Bachelor's degrees. Rust accepts only 26% of its applicants; the U.S. News & World Report America's Best Colleges 2006 guide referred to it as "less selective" and did not rank it in the fourth-tier of the "Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor's (South)" category.
Rust College operates on what is called a module system, which is an 8-week semester class system. While the fast-paced module system causes problems for the support staff and for Rust's many low-performing students, the module system does allow the college to constantly enroll a steady stream of transfer students every 8 weeks.
The college says that most of their classes have between 10–19 students, though in reality the enrollment caps for general education classes as of 2013-2014 academic year was around 40 or 50 students, and some freshman year classes can be as large as 30 or 35 students. According to the college, 42% of all faculty have obtained a PhD. There are 42 faculty members and a student/faculty ratio of 20:1. According to the college, 57% of students return for their sophomore year.
Rust College was involved in a lawsuit after a student was sexually assaulted by Dr. Sylvester Oliver, who was fired from his administrative position of Humanities Division Chair in October 2012. The lawsuit has been brought to court by the Cochran Firm of Memphis  which contends that "The lawsuit that was filed against Rust College and Dr. Sylvester Oliver August 28, 2013 alleges that Rust College fosters an environment that allows the sexual abuse of students and also allows perpetrators to get away with the abuse." At least 8 women victims of rape and other sexual misconduct are plaintiffs in the complaint against Rust College, Sylvester Oliver, Johnny McDonald who was the college's head of Enrollment Services before leaving in 2013, and Dr. David Beckley the current president. In November 2014, Sylvester Oliver plead guilty to sexual assault, but a Marshall County prosecutor recommended he receive a 15-year suspended sentence. The lawsuit was settled with the details undisclosed; in 2015 a federal judge dismissed the suit against the university.
Rust College occupies approximately 126 acres (51 ha). Some buildings on campus were erected in the mid-1800s, such as the alumni and public relations center, while others were recently built, such as the Hamilton Science Center, a three-story addition to the McDonald Science Building. In 2008, Rust College acquired the campus of the former Mississippi Industrial College, located adjacent to the campus. The college is not using the buildings but plans to raise funds to restore them. In 2011, the college acquired Airliewood, an antebellum former slave plantation estate located near Rust College campus. Built in 1858, Airliewood served as living quarters for Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War, and currently serves as the official residence of the President. There are five gender-segregated dorms, with about 900 spaces. Two historic markers honoring the Council of Federated Organizations and those involved in the 1964 Freedom Summer Project in Holly Springs were unveiled on campus in 2014.
Under the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, Rust College reports the on-campus crime statistics to the United States Department of Education and publish the numbers on the Department's website.
The Rust teams are known as the Bearcats. The college is a member of the NCAA's Division III, competing as an Independent member. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, tennis, track & field and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.
- Lucie Campbell (1885–1963), composer, hymnwriter
- Alvin Childress (1907–1986), actor
- Ruby Elzy (1908–1943), operatic soprano
- Perry Wilbon Howard (1877–1961), attorney, assistant U.S. attorney general, Mississippi Republican chairman
- Leslie B. McLemore (born 1940), civil rights activist, interim mayor of Jackson, Mississippi
- Clinton LeSueur (born 1969), journalist, congressional candidate
- Alexander Preston Shaw (1879–1966), Methodist bishop
- Anita Ward (born 1957), disco singer
- Ida B. Wells (1862–1931), newspaper editor, activist
- Willie Mitchell (1928–2010), record executive, musician, producer
- WURC Rust College's public radio station
- Bay, Mia (2009). To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells. New York: Hill and Wang. ISBN 978-0-8090-9529-2.
- Hill, Levirn (1994). Black American Colleges and Universities: Profiles of Two-Year, Four-Year, & Professional Schools. Gale Group. ISBN 0-02-864984-2.
- "Princeton Review: Rust College". Princeton Review. Retrieved 2006-04-14.
- Robinson, Marco Tyrone, “‘By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them’: Civil Rights Activism at Rust College and in Marshall Country, 1957–1964” (PhD dissertation, University of Mississippi, 2010). DA3447108.