CONTACT US
Call Us Email Us

About Us

Charleston Southern University > About Us > History and Milestones

HISTORY AND MILESTONES

Charleston Southern University, formerly Baptist College at Charleston, is one of the largest accredited, private universities in South Carolina. Affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the university offers 48 undergraduate degrees and eight graduate degree programs and enrolls 3,600 students. The university has graduated more than 18,000 students in its 50-year history.

The urgent need for another college in the Lowcountry became a matter of active and organized consideration in 1954. South Carolina Baptists made its establishment a matter of official deliberation at a meeting of the General Board in September 1955.

After considerable study by official education committees, both locally and conventionwide, the Capital Needs Committee of the State Convention brought a recommendation which initiated efforts to begin seeking both a site and funds for the establishment of a college. The South Carolina Baptist Convention agreed to support the plan, and more than 70,000 individuals made contributions ranging from $1 to $20,000.

Former Charleston mayor, J. Palmer Gaillard Jr., was instrumental in helping supporters acquire 500 acres of land 16 miles from the city limits of Charleston, at the northeast intersection of Interstate 26 and Highway 78. In 1964, trustees were elected by the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Dr. John A. Hamrick, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston and founder of First Baptist Church School, was elected the first president of the university by the Board of Trustees in November 1964. The first semester of Charleston Southern University was in the fall of 1965, in buildings of the First Baptist Church of North Charleston. Administrative offices were located in the First Baptist Church of Charleston. Professors from The Citadel and the Medical University offered to serve as part-time professors to supplement the small faculty. The old St. John Hotel, now The Mills House Hotel, offered to rent rooms to house students.

By September 1966, buildings on the campus were ready, and the university's second year began amid construction, landscaping and the physical development of the campus. By the third year, a 60-member faculty was in place, and majors were offered in 17 academic areas. In 1969 the founding class graduated, and by 1971 the school gained accreditation.

In 1984 Dr. Jairy C. Hunter Jr. became the second president of Charleston Southern University. The Graduate Studies Program in Education became accredited in 1986. It was expanded to include concentrations in elementary and secondary education beginning with the 1988 spring term. The School of Business began to offer a Master of Business Administration degree in 1990. In 1993, the School of Education began offering a Master of Education in Educational Administration. In 1999, a Master of Science in Criminal Justice was added to the graduate offerings.

In 1990, the school achieved university status and changed its name to Charleston Southern University.

The university has grown from an initial student body of 588. There are now many significant campus buildings to provide for the needs of the university. From its beginning the university has sought to provide not only excellent academic opportunities, but has, in all its planning, held to the ideal of the development of the total individual. Employment of personnel deeply committed to assisting each individual student to attain his maximum potential within a Christian environment has made this institution distinctive.


MILESTONES

  • 1955   Official deliberation held at the South Carolina Baptist Convention General Board regarding the establishment of a college in the Lowcountry
  • 1964   Trustees elected by the SCBC
  • 1964   Dr. John A. Hamrick elected first president of the Baptist College at Charleston
  • 1965   First semester held in the fall
  • 1966   Buildings on campus ready to receive students
  • 1969   Founding class graduated
  • 1971   School gained accreditation
  • 1984   Dr. Jairy C. Hunter Jr. elected second president of the Baptist College at Charleston
  • 1986   Graduate studies program in Education became accredited
  • 1988   Graduate studies program in Education expanded to include elementary and secondary education
  • 1990   The School of Business began to offer a Master of Business Administration
  • 1990   University achieved university status
  • 1990   Baptist College at Charleston renamed Charleston Southern University
  • 1993   School of Education began offering Master of Education in Educational Administration
  • 1999   Master of Science in Criminal Justice added as a graduate offering
  • 2004   CSU celebrates its 40th Anniversary
  • 2005   Science Building Officially Opened
  • 2006   L. Mendel Rivers Library renovated and Java City added
  • 2007    Wyndham by Wingate Inn opens
  • 2009   Jairy & Sissy Hunter celebrate their 25th Anniversary as President and First Lady
  • 2010    Dr. Hunter awarded the Order of the Palmetto
  • 2012    New Athletic Center opens
  • 2013    Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership opens and Nursing Building expansion opens
  • 2014    Chick-fil-A Express opens, and Hunter Reception Center expanded and renamed the Jairy C. and Carolyn K. Hunter Center, in recognition of Dr. and Mrs. Hunter's 30 years of service to CSU
  • 2014    CSU celebrates its 50th Anniversary
  • 2015    Charleston Southern recognized as College of Distinction
  • 2016    Dr. Jairy C. Hunter Jr. honored with NACUBO Award for business excellence
  • 2016   CSU breaks ground on Singleton Baseball Complex