Johnson C. Smith University
History and campus
Johnson C. Smith University’s lush 100-acre campus rests on a hill overlooking the skyscrapers and skyline of Uptown, Charlotte, N.C. The historically racial ethnic college was founded in 1867 by two Presbyterian ministers, the Rev. Samuel Alexander and the Rev. W.L. Miller, during a meeting of the Catawba Presbytery in the church basement of the congregation now known as First United Presbyterian Church. The University was known as Biddle Memorial Institute until 1923.
With a strong focus on academics, service and added emphasis on social and scientific research, JCSU shines as a robust liberal arts institution. Its founders hoped to educate African-Americans in the region as teachers and ministers. Now, 63 percent of JCSU’s students are from outside North Carolina, and the school offers bachelor’s degrees in 26 fields. Entering its 142nd year, JCSU has an enrollment of more than 1500 students. A regionally accredited institution, JCSU is also a beneficiary of the Duke Endowment since 1924.
Recognized for innovative initiatives, JCSU has for many years offered each student a laptop upon enrolling. In 2008, the university embarked on a global education initiative. One detail of the “Go Global Initiative” is to assist each student in securing a passport. JCSU is next opening the Smith Institute for Applied Research which will engage faculty, students and visiting fellows in social and scientific research focused around four centers.
In fall of 2008, Dr. Ronald Lee Carter became the 13th president of Johnson C. Smith University. Carter is a graduate of Morehouse University and earned his master’s degree in theology and doctorate in religion from Boston University. He has served in academic positions at Boston University, University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Coker College in South Carolina.
Read more about President Carter’s vision for the university, the Smith Institute for Applied Research and the Presbyterian legacy.
Meet the students
Many of the 1,500 students at Johnson C. Smith University consider the campus community to be home for four challenging and fun years. Some even describe it as an extended family away from their own families. With faculty, staff, and second, third and fourth year students welcoming entering students and transfer students, the “new kid” is quickly introduced to the academic, service and social opportunities on campus. Mentors shepherd new students through orientation and into their first semester as college students. A block-scheduling structure allows first-year students to have core classes with a small cohort, turning strangers into familiar faces and maybe into friends. Mentors and faculty encourage students to take advantage of academic enhancements like the full-service library and math, writing and science tutoring to jump start academic success.
Soon, the “new kid” matures into an eager academic, impassioned servant leader or dedicated scholar-athlete for Golden Bull athletics. Johnson C. Smith University is a home for students with varied interests and diverse aspirations in scientific research, social service, media, finance and the ministry. Read profiles of five Johnson C. Smith students
Get further information
Visit Johnson C. Smith University's Web site for more information on admissions, programs and opportunities. For more information on Presbyterian higher education, visit the Association for Presbyterian Colleges and Universities.