Johnson C. Smith University

Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is a private, historically black university in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and Council on Social Work Accreditation (CSWE). The school awards Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Social Work, and Master of Social Work degrees.

Johnson C. Smith University
JCSU seal.png
Seal of Johnson C. Smith University
Former names
Biddle Memorial Institute
Biddle University
MottoSit Lux
Motto in English
Let There Be Light
TypePrivate, HBCU
Religious affiliation
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Endowment$51.1 million (Beneficiary of the Duke Endowment, 1924)[1]
PresidentClarence D. Armbrister
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States

35°14′35″N 80°51′22″W / 35.243°N 80.856°W / 35.243; -80.856Coordinates: 35°14′35″N 80°51′22″W / 35.243°N 80.856°W / 35.243; -80.856
CampusUrban 105 acres
ColorsGold and Navy blue
AthleticsNCAA Division IICentral Intercollegiate Athletic Association
NicknameGolden Bulls
MascotThe Golden Bull
Johnson C. Smith University Logo.png
Biddle Memorial Hall, Johnson C. Smith University
Johnson C. Smith University is located in North Carolina
Johnson C. Smith University
LocationBeatties Ford Rd. and W. Trade St., Charlotte, North Carolina
Coordinates35°14′37″N 80°51′25″W / 35.2435°N 80.8569°W / 35.2435; -80.8569
Arealess than one acre
Architectural styleRomanesque
NRHP reference No.75001281[4]
Added to NRHPOctober 14, 1975


Postcard, c. 1930s-40s

Johnson C. Smith University was established on April 7, 1867 as the Biddle Memorial Institute at a meeting of the Catawba Presbytery in the old Charlotte Presbyterian Church. Mary D. Biddle, a churchwoman, donated $1,400 to the school. In appreciation of this first contribution, friends requested that Mrs. Biddle name the newly established school; she did so in the name of her late husband, Captain Henry Jonathan Biddle, who had been mortally wounded during the Battle of Glendale in 1862. Samuel C. Alexander and Willis L. Miller, saw the need for a school in the south and after the birth of the school, they were elected as some of the first teachers. Its corresponding women's school was Scotia Seminary (now Barber-Scotia College).[5]

In 1876, the charter was changed by the legislature of the State of North Carolina and the name became Biddle University, under which name the institution operated until 1923.

In 1891, Biddle University elected Daniel J. Sanders as the first African-American as President of a four-year institution in the south.

Johnson Crayne Smith

From 1921 to 1922, Jane Berry Smith donated funds to build a theological dormitory, a science hall, a teachers' cottage, and a memorial gate. She also provided an endowment for the institution in memory of her late husband, Johnson C. Smith. Up until her death, she donated funds for five more buildings and a campus church. In recognition of these generous benefactions, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the institution to Johnson C. Smith University. The charter of the school, accordingly, was amended on March 1, 1923, by the legislature of the State of North Carolina.

In 1924, James B. Duke established the Duke Endowment. While the largest share of that the endowment's earnings are allocated to support Duke University, Duke's donation required that 4% of its earnings be given to the university.[6] Over the years, this share of the Endowment's distributions has exceeded $90 million.

In 1932, the university's charter was amended, providing for the admission of women. The 65-year-old institution for men then became partially coeducational. The first residence hall for women, named in memory of James B. Duke, was dedicated in 1940. In 1941, women were admitted to the freshman class. In 1942, the university was a fully coeducational institution.

JCSU joined the United Negro College Fund in 1944 as a founding member. This fund was organized primarily to help church-related schools of higher learning to revamp their training programs, to expand their physical plants, to promote faculty growth and to create new areas of service.[7]

Biddle Memorial Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places.

1870–1884 Stephen Mattoon
1884–1885 William Alexander Holliday
1886–1891 William F. Johnson
1891–1907 Daniel J. Sanders
1907–1947 Henry Lawrence McCrorey
1947–1956 Hardy Liston
1956–1957 James W. Seabrook
1957–1968 Rufus P. Perry
1968–1972 Lionel Newsome
1973–1982 Wilbert Greenfield
1983–1994 Robert Albright
1994–2008 Dorothy Cowser Yancy
2008–2018 Ronald L. Carter
2018–present Clarence D. Armbrister


Johnson C. Smith University offers 24 different degrees to undergraduate students and one to postgraduates. Each student earns his or her degree through one of three colleges: the College of Arts and Letters, the College of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), or the College of Professional Studies.

The Robert L. Albright Honors College is available to qualified high-achieving undergraduate students at JCSU.[8] The college is named after the 11th president of the university.

Metropolitan College offers undergraduate degree programs to adults to enhance their opportunities for career advancement and success. Metropolitan College provides students with flexible, convenient schedules and a variety of course styles including on-campus and online courses, as well as a Flex-Option for courses that include both online and in-class instruction. Evening courses at Metropolitan College are offered in criminology, social work, and business administration.


Biddle Memorial Hall

The university is organized into three colleges:[9]

  • College of Arts and Letters
  • College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  • College of Professional Studies.

Student activitiesEdit

Due to its location near downtown Charlotte, NC, there are many social and cultural activities for JCSU students and faculty to enjoy, including professional sporting events, theater/movies, concerts, art exhibits, bands, chorale, poetry readings, and dance, among others.

Fraternities and sororitiesEdit

All of the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations currently have chapters at Johnson C. Smith University. These organizations are:

Organization Symbol Chapter Chapter Symbol
Alpha Phi Alpha ΑΦΑ Alpha Omicron ΑΟ
Kappa Alpha Psi ΚΑΨ Alpha Epsilon ΑΕ
Omega Psi Phi ΩΨΦ Rho Ρ
Phi Beta Sigma ΦΒΣ Alpha Epsilon ΑΕ
Iota Phi Theta ΙΦΘ Beta Theta ΒΘ
Alpha Kappa Alpha ΑΚΑ Gamma Delta ΓΔ
Delta Sigma Theta ΔΣΘ Gamma Lambda ΓΛ
Zeta Phi Beta ΖΦΒ Kappa Κ
Sigma Gamma Rho ΣΓΡ Beta Upsilon ΒΥ

Other organizations include:

Organization Symbol Chapter Chapter Symbol
Tau Beta Sigma ΤΒΣ Eta Omicron ΗΟ
Kappa Kappa Psi ΚΚΨ Theta Mu ΘΜ
Alpha Phi Omega ΑΦΩ Delta Phi ΔΦ
Lambda Theta Alpha ΛΘΑ Zeta Theta ΖΘ
Lambda Theta Phi ΛΘΦ NC Colony 2


Student-athletes compete in intercollegiate and intramural athletics.

JCSU is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division II and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). Its intercollegiate sports programs include basketball, bowling, cross-country, football, golf, softball, volleyball, tennis, and track and field. Its teams are nicknamed the Golden Bulls.

Notable alumniEdit

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Tim Beamer 1971 NFL player with the Buffalo Bills.
Trezzvant Anderson American journalist, publicist, and war correspondent.
Frederick C. Branch 1942 first African American officer in the United States Marine Corps
Tyrone Britt 1967 former NBA player who played for the 1967-1968 San Diego Rockets.
Vanderbilt Brown 1907 was one of the first physicians to finish training in World War I.
Mickey Casey was an Negro league baseball catcher between 1930 to 1942.
Eva M. Clayton 1955 Clayton and Mel Watt were the first African Americans elected to the House of Representatives from North Carolina since 1898 (since Clayton won the special election, she took office before Watt).
Gregory Clifton was an NFL Player with the Washington Redskins and the Carolina Panthers
Dorothy Counts 1964 was one of the first black students admitted to the Harry Harding High School in the United States. After four days of harassment that threatened her safety, her parents forced her to withdraw from the school.
Grover Covington was a Canadian Football League defensive end for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He often led the league in quarterback sacks and was a division All-Star seven times. He won the Schenley Award for Most Outstanding Defensive Player once and also led the Tiger-Cats to a Grey Cup victory in 1986. He finished his career with 157 sacks, a CFL record. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
John O. Crosby was an African American educator and the 1st President of what is now North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Sadye Curry 1963 is the first African-American woman to become a gastroenterologist in the United States.
Charlie S. Dannelly 1962 is a Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly representing the state's thirty-eighth Senate district since 1995. [10]
Bill Davis 1963 legendary college football coach.
De'Audra Dix 2009 he was 2008 Division II 1st Team All-American. He played for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. He was the starting cornerback when the Alouettes won back-to-back Canadian Football League Grey Cup Championships in 2009 and 2010.
Edward R. Dudley 1932 from the Gainsboro neighborhood of Roanoke, Virginia, was the first African-American to hold the rank of Ambassador of the United States, serving as ambassador to Liberia (where he had been serving with the rank of minister) from 1949 through 1953.
Bill Dusenbery American football player
Thereasea Elder was the first African American public health nurse in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Richard Erwin 1947 In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Erwin as the first black federal judge in North Carolina.
Ferdinand Kwasi Fiawoo 1933 was a Ghanaian minister of religion, playwright and educator, founder of Zion College, the first secondary school in Ghana's Volta Region.
Malcolm Graham 1985 is a Democratic member of the North Carolina Senate, representing District 40.
Leford Green 2011 Division II Collegiate Indoor and Outdoor Regional and National Track Athlete of the Year in 2010 and 2011. Green was a member of the 2012 Summer Olympics Jamaican National Olympic Track and Field team.
Chet Grimsley 1978 recognized as the first Euro-American to garner accolades as All-CIAA and All-American at JCSU and at an HBCU. Author of "White Golden Bull."
Larry D. Hall 1978 is an American politician from Durham, North Carolina. A Democrat, he has served in the North Carolina House of Representatives as the member from North Carolina's 29th representative district since 2006. Hall was appointed to the position in 2006 by then Governor Mike Easley and won reelection in 2008.
Reginald Hawkins 1973 was the first African-American to run for Governor of North Carolina.
Bun Hayes 1929 nicknamed "Bun", was an American Negro league pitcher from 1928 to 1935.
JoAnn Haysbert is currently Chancellor and Provost of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. [11]
Henry Aaron Hill 1936 was an American fluorocarbon chemist who became the first African American president of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Quentin Hillsman is the head women's college basketball coach for the Syracuse Orange.
Cheris F. Hodges 1999 author of African American romance novels.
Sara Dunlap Jackson 1943 National Archives and Records Administration archivist, Military Archives Division.
Benny Johnson 1970 NFL player who played 5 seasons as a cornerback and a kick returner.
J. Charles Jones 1960 was a civil rights leader, attorney, co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and chairperson of the SNCC's direct action committee.
Edward Joyner 1994 is the current head men's basketball coach at Hampton University. During the 2010–2011 season, he led Hampton with a 24–9 record and helped lead the team to the second round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, where they lost to Duke, 87–45.
Boise Kimber 1981 is an American Baptist minister and civil rights activist.
William Lindsay 1931 nicknamed "Red", was an American Negro league shortstop for the 1934 Bacharach Giants.
Bertha Maxwell-Roddey 1954 is an African American Educator and the only female founding member of the National Council of Black Studies. She was the first African American principal of Albermarle Road Elementary, a predominantly white public school in Charlotte, NC. She founded the Black Studies Program, now Africana Studies Department, at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Along with Dr. Mary Harper, she founded the Afro-American Cultural and Service Center. She also served as the President of the National Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
Earl Manigault a Rucker Park legend. Attended JCSU for one semester during 1964–65 school year.
Mildred Mitchell-Bateman 1941 was an African-American physician and medical administrator. She was West Virginia's mental health commissioner in 1962, and was the first woman and African-American to hold the position.
Cary C Mitchell 1983 Nationally known men’s clothier/fashion designer who for years made dress clothes for some of the top NBA and NFL Super Stars. Mitchell was pro golfer Tiger Woods personal pants designer and maker for his first 6 years as a pro. Mitchell was also chosen by BET founder and the NBA’s first African American team owner Bob Johnson to design the inaugural game uniform for the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004.
Eddie McGirt 1948 a CIAA football coach legend.
Fred "Curly" Neal 1962 former member of the Harlem Globetrotters
Pettis Norman 1962 tight end with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers. He is on the top-50 greatest Dallas Cowboys of All-Time. The school's annual award given to the outstanding student-athlete bears his name.
Trevin Parks 2013 is an American professional basketball player for the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League.
Obie Patterson 1965 former member, Maryland House of Delegates
Don Pullen jazz pianist and organist
Zilner Randolph jazz trumpeter and music educator
James "Twiggy" Sanders 1974 Harlem Globetrotters member
Jawn Sandifer 1935 was an American civil rights attorney, judge and New York State Supreme Court Justice.
Gary Siplin 1976 politician, Member of the Florida Senate from the 19th district. Siplin sponsored a letter to Governor Rick Scott proposing a Special Prosecutor over the Trayvon Martin case. The governor ultimately decided it was in the best interest of the community to elect a Special Prosecutor to the case
Marvin Scott 1966 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Indiana in 2004
Chris Smith 1992 is a Democratic member of the Florida Senate, representing the 31st District, which includes eastern Broward County since 2012.
Clarence F. Stephens 1938 Ninth African American to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics
John Taylor attended JCSU for one year before he transferred to Delaware State University. He was a member of the 49ers teams that won Super Bowls XXIII, XXIV, and XXIX. He was also a 2xPro Bowler.
Steel Arm Johnny Taylor was a pitcher and played in professional pre-league and Negro league baseball from 1903 to 1925
Evelyn Terry is an American politician.
John Terry Canadian Football League All-Star offensive tackle. Spent his first two college years (1986 and 1987) in Johnson C. Smith University
Sandra L. Townes 1966 District Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Skeets Tolbert Jazz clarinetist
Faya Ora Rose Touré 1969 is an American civil rights activist and lawyer. She was the first black female judge in Alabama.
Avon Williams 1940 Tennessee State Senator from 1972 to 1992
Danielle Williams 2014 is a Jamaican athlete specialising in the sprint hurdles. She is best known for winning the gold medal at the 2015 World Championships.
Shermaine Williams 2011 Jamaican track & field sprinter. First female from Johnson C. Smith University to go to Summer Olympics 2012
Draff Young was a National Basketball Association (NBA) coach.

Notable facultyEdit

Name Department Notability Reference
Kelly Alexander Professor is a Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Henry A. Hunt Professor winner of the Spingarn Medal award. In the 1930s Hunt was invited to participate in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Black Cabinet.
Edward Jackson Football Coach one of the greatest HBCU football coaches of all-time. His all-time coaching record is 141–62–12. His record at JCSU is 30–14–4.
Mary Jackson McCrorey Counselor of women, wife of president H. L. McCrorey [12]
Jimmie McKee Contributor he was the founder of Johnson C. Smith University athletic booster program the 100 Club. He became a successful Charlotte businessman, contributing to Johnson C Smith University, NAACP, Colored NC Police Association, Democratic Party and YMCA.
Mike Minter Football Assistant coach former NFL safety for the Carolina Panthers
Steve Wilks Football Assistant coach NFL Head Coach for the Arizona Cardinals.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-05-14. Retrieved 2006-05-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Instructional Faculty and Class Size" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  3. ^ "Enrollment and Persistence" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  5. ^ "The American Missionary Volume 0033 Issue 11 (Nov 1879)". Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Trust Indenture" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-01-07.
  7. ^ "United Negro College Fund". Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  8. ^ "Johnson C. Smith University - Honors College". Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Academic Catalog" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
  10. ^ "Charlie Dannelly's Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  11. ^ "Former provost JoAnn Haysbert returning to Hampton University". tribunedigital-dailypress. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  12. ^ "Woman Gets Degree Doctor of Pedagogy" Pittsburgh Courier (July 5, 1941): 18. via 

External linksEdit