Converse College

Converse College is a private university in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It consists of an undergraduate women's college as well as coeducational graduate, online, and summer programs. It was established in 1889 by a group of Spartanburg residents and named after textile pioneer Dexter Edgar Converse.

Converse College
Endowment$78.24 million (June 30, 2013)[1]
PresidentKrista Newkirk
ProvostJeffrey Barker
Location, ,
United States

34°57′16.59″N 81°55′01.51″W / 34.9546083°N 81.9170861°W / 34.9546083; -81.9170861
70 acres (0.3 km2)
ColorsPurple and Gold
AffiliationsConference Carolinas


Converse College Historic District
Location580 E. Main St., Spartanburg, South Carolina
Area20 acres (8.1 ha)
Built1891 (1891)-1915
ArchitectHook, Charles
Architectural styleLate Gothic Revival, Romanesque, Richardson Romanesque
NRHP reference No.75001706[2]
Added to NRHPNovember 12, 1975

Converse College opened on October 1, 1890, with a student body of 168 and 16 faculty members. The college operated as a "stock company" with the board of directors composed entirely of residents of Spartanburg. Dexter Edgar Converse, a native of Vermont who had settled in Spartanburg before the American Civil War and had become a successful pioneer in the cotton mill industry, served as the head of the first board of directors. On January 2, 1892, fire destroyed the college's main building. The building was enlarged during its reconstruction. In 1896, the college was incorporated in South Carolina and a self-perpetuating board of trustees was named. In 1964, the college introduced graduate programs.

The Converse College Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.[2] It encompasses eight contributing buildings dated between 1891 and 1915. They are the Main Building (Wilson Hall) (1892), Annex (Pell Hall, 1891), Twichell Auditorium (1898–1899), Carnegie Library (1905), Cleveland House (c. 1905), Judd Science Hall (1915), Dexter Hall (1899) and Towne House (1898). The buildings are representative of the Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, and Neo-Classical styles.[3][4]

The college plans to change its name to "Converse University" in the summer of 2021. The college also plans to "expand its undergraduate residential program from single-gender to co-ed" by admitting male undergraduate students for the fall of 2021.[5]


Name Years served
Benjamin F. Wilson 1890–1902
Robert Paine Pell 1902–1932
Edward Moseley Gwathmey 1933–1955
Oliver Cromwell Carmichael, Jr. 1956–1960
Robert T. Coleman, Jr. 1961–1989
Ellen Wood Hall 1989–1993
Sandra C. Thomas 1994–1998
Nancy Oliver Gray 1999–2005
Elizabeth A. Fleming 2006–2016
Krista L. Newkirk 2016 – Present


Converse College has an undergraduate enrollment of about 800 women. The graduate enrollment of about 550 students is made up of both men and women.

The academic programs are organized in the following departments:

  • Art and Design
  • Biology, Chemistry and Physics
  • Economics, Accounting and Business
  • Education
  • English/Creative and Professional Writing
  • Languages, Cultures and Literature
  • Health and Physical Education
  • History and Politics
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Psychology
  • Religion and Philosophy
  • Theater and Dance
  • Music


Converse College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division II. The Valkyries are a member of the Conference Carolinas. Women's sports include acrobatics and tumbling, basketball, cross country, equestrian, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, track and field, golf, tennis, swimming and volleyball.

Notable alumnaeEdit

  • Kimilee Bryant, Broadway actress and Miss South Carolina 1989[6]
  • Phyllis Harris '82, senior vice president and general counsel of legal administration for Walmart Stores.[7]

Notable facultyEdit


The concert hall, Converse College
  1. ^ "Converse College Best Colleges US News". US News and World Report. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  3. ^ Mary Ann Eaddy and Georgianna Graham (May 1975). "Converse Heights Historic District" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places – Nomination and Inventory. Retrieved 2014-07-01.
  4. ^ "Converse College Historic District, Spartanburg County (Spartanburg)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2014-07-01. and accompanying map
  5. ^ "Converse College Board of Trustees Announces Dynamic Changes". Converse College. February 7, 2020. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  6. ^ "Broadway actress Kimilee Bryant returns to Greenville". The Greenville News. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Phyllis P. Harris". Retrieved 17 February 2016.

External linksEdit