Columbia College (South Carolina)

Coordinates: 34°02′42″N 81°01′53″W / 34.04500°N 81.03139°W / 34.04500; -81.03139
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Columbia College
Former names
Columbia Female College (1859–1905)
MottoNon quem sed quid
Motto in English
Not who, but what
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1854; 170 years ago (1854)
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
PresidentJohn Dozier
ProvostKristine Barnett
Academic staff
57 full-time
181 part-time

34°02′42″N 81°01′53″W / 34.04500°N 81.03139°W / 34.04500; -81.03139
Purple, Grey & White
Sporting affiliations

Columbia College is a private liberal arts college in Columbia, South Carolina. Founded in 1854 by the United Methodist Church as a women's liberal arts college, Columbia College became fully coeducational in 2020 welcoming its first coed residential class in Fall 2021. It also offers evening, graduate, and online programs for women and men.


Founded in 1854, Columbia Female College officially opened in 1859 with an initial student body of 121 and a faculty of 16. When General Sherman and his troops marched through Columbia in 1865, the school had to close. It was saved from being torched only because Professor of Music W. H. Orchard, having heard that all unoccupied buildings would be burned by a certain hour, left his home to stand in the doorway of the college where he could be seen by the troops. The school was reopened in 1873. The college was damaged by its first fire in 1895, though the damage was not extensive. The name changed to Columbia College in 1905 after it was moved to its present site in North Columbia in 1904. Swept by a second fire in 1909, the college operated out of its former Plain Street facilities until the North Columbia campus could be reoccupied in 1910.

From 1940 to 1951, presidents Guilds and Greene oversaw Columbia College as well as Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

In 1964, a third fire ravaged the campus, destroying Old Main, a college landmark. Frightened and disheartened students, huddled in the middle of the night in College Place Methodist Church, were told by President Spears, "Nothing has been destroyed that cannot be rebuilt." Soon thereafter new interest in the college was engendered, and building continued. The columns of Old Main, which had been the only thing left standing in the ashes when the fire was over, became a symbol of Columbia College, its strength and its endurance.

Georgia O'Keeffe taught art at Columbia College in 1914 and 1915.

During the 1980s, an evening college was established in which both female and male students could be educated. Recently[when?] U.S. News & World Report has ranked Columbia College as one of the top regional liberal arts colleges in the South.[citation needed]

In 2011, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) named Columbia College professor, Dr. John Zubizarreta “U. S. Professor of the Year” for undergraduate baccalaureate colleges. Zubizarreta is a professor of English and director of honors and faculty development for Columbia College. The Columbia College honors program has also produced two consecutive National Collegiate Honors Council Honor Students of the Year, Homa Hassan in 2009 and Diana Lynde in 2010.

On Jan. 31, 2020 the board of trustees voted for the plan to admit men to the college's residential day program. This is a significant change for Columbia College, which was founded in 1854 as Columbia Female College. This will not be the first time a man has studied at the college as male students have previously participated in co-ed evening, graduate and online programs, but this will be the first time men can study in a “co-ed residential day program. Columbia College stated it made the change to enroll men as a result of “shifts in student demographics, cultural shifts and population trends.”


The Columbia College athletic teams are called the Koalas. The college is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA),[1] primarily competing in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) since the 2011–12 academic year.[2] The Koalas previously competed in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC; formerly known as Georgia–Alabama–Carolina Conference (GACC) until after the 2003–04 school year) from 2005–06 to 2010–11; and in the defunct Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (EIAC) during the 2004–05 school year.

Columbia College competes in 15 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include cross country, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field and volleyball. Men's sports debuted when the college became co-educational in 2020, beginning athletic competition in the 2021 fall season.

Alongside the addition of men's sports, Columbia College added Esports as a program within the institution. This includes Overwatch 2, Valorant, Rocket League, and Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

Notable people[edit]




  1. ^ "Schools". NAIA.ORG. NAIA. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Members". Appalachian Athletic Conference. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  3. ^ "West Virginia House of Delegates". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  4. ^ Bates, Gerri (2007). "These Hallowed Halls: African American Women College and University Presidents". The Journal of Negro Education. 76 (3): 373–390. ISSN 0022-2984. JSTOR 40034579.

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