Bethune–Cookman University

Coordinates: 29°12′37″N 81°01′50″W / 29.2102556°N 81.0306086°W / 29.2102556; -81.0306086

Bethune–Cookman University (B–CU) is a private historically black university in Daytona Beach, Florida. The primary administration building, White Hall, and the Mary McLeod Bethune Home are in the National Register of Historic Places. Although accredited, in June 2018 the university was put on probation by its regional accreditor.[4]

Bethune–Cookman University
Bethune-Cookman University seal.svg
MottoEnter to Learn, Depart to Serve[1]
TypePrivate, HBCU
Endowment$47.8 million (2016)[2]
PresidentDr. E. LaBrent Chrite
Students4,037 [3]
United States
CampusUrban, 85.5 acres
ColorsMaroon and Gold
AthleticsNCAA Division I FCS
AffiliationsMid-Eastern Athletic Conference
MascotWil D Cat


Mary McLeod Bethune with a group of students in 1943

Mary McLeod Bethune founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904. Initially, the first students met in the home of John Henry and Alice Smith Williams.[5] The school underwent several stages of growth and development through the years. In 1923, it merged with the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida, an institution originally founded in 1872, and became a co-ed high school. Bethune-Cookman College is a result of the merger in 1923 of the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Girls, founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and Cookman Institute for Boys, founded in Jacksonville in 1872 by Rev. D.S. Darnell. The new institution, called the Daytona Cookman Collegiate Institute, became affiliated with the Board of Education of the Methodist Church. By 1931 the school had become a junior college.

In 1941, a four-year degree program was developed in liberal arts and teacher training. The school became a four-year college in 1941 when the Florida Department of Education approved a 4-year baccalaureate program in Liberal Arts and Teacher Education. The name was changed to Bethune–Cookman College. In 1943, two years later, the first group of graduates received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. In 1947, the college received an "A" rating from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Florida State Department of Education. In 1988, Bethune-Cookman College was admitted to candidacy status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to offer a Master's Degree in Science Education.

On February 14, 2007, the Board of Trustees approved the name Bethune–Cookman University.

In May 2017, Bethune–Cookman University faced criticism when it invited Betsy DeVos to speak at the commencement.[6][7][8] Students and public outcry created a petition on titled "Stop Betsy DeVos from delivering the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University". Many have been questioning the school's decision on social media and beyond, accusing Betsy DeVos of undermining historically black colleges and universities. The incident led to security measures, including alerts on the school's website on allowed bags.[9] The university homepage states, "Commencement Bag Policy: All bags will be searched prior to entry into the Ocean Center...".[10][11] During her address, a majority of the crowd booed DeVos, with many students standing up and turning their backs to her.[12]

The university was placed on probation by its regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, in the summer of 2018. The accreditor cited failings in multiple areas, including integrity, governing board characteristics, financial resources, financial responsibility, and control of finances. The accreditation action followed significant financial losses by the university - $28 million over the previous two years - and multiple lawsuits, including one filed by the university against a former president alleging fraud and bribery related to a $306 million construction deal. The nursing program had been placed on probation by its accreditor a few months earlier, related to academic issues.[4]


Bethune retired in 1942, at which time James A. Colston became president. In 1946 Bethune resumed the presidency for a year.

Richard V. Moore Sr. became president in 1947. Under his tenure the college was accredited in 1970 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It joined the United Negro College Fund and other academic and professional organizations. The curriculum expanded, student enrollment increased, and new buildings were constructed for residential housing and classrooms.

Oswald P. Bronson Sr., a B–CU alumnus, served as the fourth president of the college from 1975 to 2004. During his tenure increased student enrollment led to construction of more student housing, classroom buildings, and the Mary Mcleod Bethune Auditorium. Major fields of study increased from 12 in 1975 to 37 by 2004. In addition, seven continuing education centers were established throughout the state. While maintaining accreditation, the Florida Board of Education added new accreditation in the Nursing and the Teacher Education programs.

In August 2004, Trudie K. Reed was appointed to the presidency. She was the first woman president since Bethune. Campus improvements have included construction of the Center for Civic Engagement, the L. Gale Lemerand School of Nursing, the creation of the Alexis Pugh and Eugene Zimmerman Scholarship houses, and the provision of a university-owned house as an alumni center during her tenure.

Edison O. Jackson was appointed as the university's interim president in May 2012. Jackson was appointed to the presidency in May 2013 and was committed to serve a 6-year term. In July 2017, Jackson announced his resignation[13] and the Board of Trustees appointed retired judge Hubert L. Grimes as the Interim President.[14] In January 2018, the university sued Jackson and others involved in a $306 million construction deal alleging fraud, corruption, and bribery.[15]

University of Denver Daniels College of Business Dean LaBrent Chrite is set to become president on July 1, 2019.[16]


Bethune–Cookman University offers 39 bachelor's degrees and six master's degrees through one of the following schools and colleges:[17]

  • Nursing
  • Business & Entrepreneurship
  • Education
  • Graduate Studies
  • Health Sciences
  • Hospitality Management
  • Liberal Arts
  • Online & Professional Studies
  • Performing Arts & Communication
  • Science, Engineering, Mathematics
  • Undergraduate Studies
  • Religion


The Harrison Rhodes Memorial Library was the original library of Bethune–Cookman College which was a tribute to author Harrison Rhodes of the wealthy Rhodes family. Harrison, along with his sister Margaret, championed the then Daytona Normal and Industrial School for Negro Girls. Upon Margaret's death, the balance of the Rhodes estate, some $560,000, was given to Bethune–Cookman College. The Harrison Rhodes Memorial building still exists as a campus hall after having been replaced by the Carl S. Swisher Library in 1941, which was mainly financed by the wealthy tobacco industrialist and philanthropist Carl S. Swisher.[18] The library contains 140,000 volumes with a two-story building complete with group study rooms, conference rooms, a computer center, bibliographic instruction lab as well as the archives/special collections. There are some 21 databases and four special collections: The Mary McLeod Bethune, Florence Roane, Attica Collection, and the Black Collection.

Student activitiesEdit


Bethune–Cookman University is a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and participates in NCAA Division I FCS. The school sponsors basketball, bowling, baseball, cross country, football, track and field and volleyball. The Wildcats joined the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 1979.[19] The Wildcats have 33 MEAC titles; 13 in baseball, 1 in bowling, 1 in men's cross country, 2 in women's cross country, 7 in football, 2 in women's indoor track and field, 5 in softball and 2 in women's tennis.

B–CU has an intense in-state rivalry with Florida A&M University. Today, they meet annually in the Florida Classic, a regular-season, neutral-site game which takes place in Orlando, FL starting in 1925 Bethune–Cookman's first win came a year later, 12–0 in 1926.

In 2000, Mervyl S. Melendez, (B–CU alumnus) was named as the head coach for the Wildcats' baseball program. He was the first B–CU head coach to win a MEAC title in his first season, and under his tutelage, the Wildcats baseball team won seven conference championships in eight years (2000–2004, and 2006–2007). In 2007, the Wildcats finished the regular season with a record of 33–25, with notable wins against both University of Tennessee and Stetson University, as well as ranking No. 1 in the 2007 Black College Baseball poll.

Marching bandEdit

The Marching Wildcats (The Pride) of Bethune–Cookman create the "BCU" formation while playing before a packed Citrus Bowl Stadium at the Florida Classic.

The Marching Wildcats are a 300+ member unit that includes five drum majors traditionally known as "The Five Horsemen", instrumentalists, the Sophisticat Flag Corps and the 14 Karat Gold dancers. Known as "The Pride," the band is under the direction of a Bethune–Cookman alumnus and former Marching Wildcat, Donovan V. Wells. The Marching Wildcats is one of the largest collegiate marching bands in the country.

The 14 Karat Gold dancers are featured performers in all engagements of the Marching Wildcats and occasionally perform as a solo act. The 14 Karat Gold dancers can be seen frequently in BET video clips promoting historically black colleges.


The Marching Wildcats perform pre-game and halftime shows at all home games of the Fighting Wildcats football team. Games played in neutral sites where Bethune–Cookman University is deemed the home team, The Pride also performs a traditional pre-game show.

The Pride's leadership
Donovan Wells Director of College Bands
James Poitier Associate Director and Arranger
Pedro Orey Assistant Director and Percussion Instructor
Ernest Hamilton Auxiliary Instructor
Kenneth Moore Announcer

The Pride has been featured in numerous events, including televised performances. In 2018, the band performed in its thirteenth Honda Battle of the Bands showcase of HBCU bands in Atlanta, Georgia as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference representative. In December 2005, a small group of The Pride's percussion section filmed a commercial unveiling the new Cadillac DTS. The commercial made its debut in February 2006 and continued air play throughout the rest of the year. Immediately following the band's January 2005 performance at the Honda Battle of the Bands, the event's producers nominated The Pride to be featured in the Super Bowl special episode of the Emmy-winning The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "The Pride" also made an appearance in the 2002 film Drumline. The Pride is featured in the Netflix Original show "Marching Orders" that premiered in 2018.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Student Handbook" (PDF). Bethune–Cookman University. p. 19. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 3, 2011. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  2. ^ "Bethune-Cookman University". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 8, 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b Jarmusz, T.S. (June 15, 2018). "B-CU slapped with probation; Hubert Grimes blames media, lawsuits". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Collier-Thomas, Bettye (Summer 1982). "The Impact of Black Women in Education: An Historical Perspective". The Journal of Negro Education. Howard University. 51 (3): 179. JSTOR 2294687.
  6. ^ Gibbons, Lauren. "Bethune-Cookman students, alumni still pushing to stop Betsy DeVos speech". Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  7. ^ Parker, Najja (May 3, 2017). "Why #BlackTwitter is upset about Betsy DeVos as Bethune-Cookman University's graduation speaker". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  8. ^ Parker, Najja (May 3, 2017). "Students protest Betsy Devos as Bethune-Cookman University commencement speaker". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved May 10, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Alerts: Bag Policy". Bethune–Cookman University. May 10, 2017. Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Bethune-Cookman University". May 10, 2017. Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  11. ^ "Petition - Dr. Jackson: StopDeVosAtBethuneCookmanUniversity - Change". May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.[dead link]
  12. ^ Susan Svrluga (May 10, 2017). "Students boo Betsy DeVos as commencement speaker at historically black university". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ "B-CU Board of Trustees to meet Wednesday to start search for interim president". July 12, 2017. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  14. ^ cmaadmin (July 13, 2017). "Bethune-Cookman Appoints Interim President Grimes". Diverse. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  15. ^ Jarmusz, T.S. (January 24, 2018). "B-CU sues former president Edison Jackson over dorm deal". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  16. ^ Jarmusz, T.S. (April 23, 2019). "B-CU taps University of Denver's Brent Chrite as 7th president". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Guthrie, Ana (2012). "The History of Florida's Four FBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) Libraries". Florida Libraries. 55 (2): 41.
  19. ^ "MEAC History". Retrieved May 11, 2018.

External linksEdit