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The College of Charleston is the oldest establishment of higher education in Charleston, South Carolina as well as the United States. This institution was founded by six men, Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, Thomas Heywardin, John Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in 1770 and was chartered in 1785. These men created this college to "encourage and institute youth in the several branches of liberal education." This campus sits on a fifty-two acre lot in downtown Charleston and is home of about 12,000 students. It is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges, and Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.


  • College of Charleston campus.
  • College of Charleston emblem.
  • College of Charleston Communication buildings.

In the 18th century many families were sending their sons over seas to the Middle Atlantic and Northern colonies for them to receive higher education. Many people in Charleston agreed that their state needed to establish a place where higher education was offered. Although the college was founded in January of 1770, it was charted and made official until 1855. This delay was caused by the American Revolution and political and internal disagreements. Robert Smith was the college's first president and remained in the position until he resigned in 1797. During his time of presidency the first class of the college graduated in 1794, with only six people with one of the students only being eighteen. Due to Smith's resignation the college was unorganized and closed down in 1811. 

In 1824 the college reopened with Jasper Adams as their new president for a salary of $2,500. Adam's ideas to better the college came off too strong for the community and the General Assembly which led him to leave the college in 1826. Until 1837 the college was boring and did not receive much interest until the City of Charleston took it over in hopes that it would become the states "home college." Because of this act from the city the College of Charleston became the United States first municipal college. The city provided all funds for the school including upgrades, gardening improvements, and new buildings. This seemed like the perfect fix for the college until the Civil War hit and Charleston had to be evacuated. The school was once again hanging on by a thread until Ephraim M. Baynard of Edisto Island gave $161,200 to save the College of Charleston. Without this money the college probably would not have opened so soon. 

Up until the 20th century the college had only natives of Charleston attending it. The new president, Harrison Randolph, created resident halls and offered scholarships in hopes to attract people outside of Charleston and South Carolina to become interested in the college. By 1935 the college had more than 400 students enrolled with the first African American Students not enrolling until 1967. Due to the increasing student body the College of Charleston became a state institution in 1970 which increased its population to more than 10,000 by 2001. The school continued to grow with the adding of new residence halls, new building for the School of Education and Health, and an additional library. 

Today the College of Charleston is a public university with a population of over 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students combined. The president is now P. George Benson, who will be giving up his title this year, 2014. The college still embraces its liberal arts background through the core curriculum it offers to students. The College of Charleston offers six academic schools, honors college, and graduate programs. This college ranked number thirteen in the 2015 edition of the Best Colleges. Due to the unique location of the college it offers students a beach and downtown city environment. The College of Charleston is a very diverse and historical based college. 

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