College of Charleston
MottoSapientia Ipsa Libertas (Latin)
Ædes Mores Juraque Curat (Latin)
Motto in English
"Wisdom Itself Is Liberty"
"She Cares for Her Temples, Customs and Rights"
TypePublic university
Established1770; 254 years ago (1770)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$135.9 million (2021)[1]
PresidentAndrew Hsu
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States
CampusMidsize city[2], 80 acres (0.32 km2)
NewspaperThe College Today
ColorsMaroon and white
Sporting affiliations
College of Charleston
College of Charleston is located in South Carolina
College of Charleston
College of Charleston is located in the United States
College of Charleston
LocationGlebe, George, St. Philip and Green streets, Charleston, South Carolina
Area4 acres (1.6 ha)[4]
ArchitectEdward B. White; George E. Walker
Architectural styleEarly Republic
NRHP reference No.71000748
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 11, 1971[5]
Designated NHLNovember 11, 1971[6]

The College of Charleston (CofC or Charleston) is a public university in Charleston, South Carolina. Founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785, it is the oldest university in South Carolina, the 13th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, and the oldest municipal college in the nation.

The founders of the College of Charleston included three Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence during the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776, Thomas Heyward Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge, and three who signed the Constitution of the United States in 1788, Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and John Rutledge.


The College of Charleston was founded in 1770, making it the 13th-oldest institution of higher education and oldest municipal college in the nation.[7][8] The college's original structure, located at the site of what is now Randolph Hall, was designed similar to a barracks. In March 1785, the South Carolina General Assembly issued a charter to the college, which officially opened in 1790 and hosted its first commencement in 1794. The first president of the college was Robert Smith, who served in the position from 1790 to 1797.

A second charter was issued by the general assembly in 1791 stipulating that the college would not discriminate on the basis of religion. During the Antebellum era, further development efforts in the college resulted in the construction of Randolph Hall and the President's House, both of which were built using slave labor.

In 1837, the Charleston municipal government assumed control over the college. During the mid-20th century, several African Americans attempted to apply to the racially segregated college as part of the Double V campaign against racism in the United States, but they were all rejected. Though the college became a private institution to avoid being racially integrated during the civil rights movement, black students were admitted starting in 1967 as a result of external pressure.[9][10]


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[11]8
Master's university
Washington Monthly[12]302
THE / WSJ[14]501–600

The College of Charleston consists of seven academic schools, as well as the Honors College and the Graduate School.


The College of Charleston's main campus in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, includes 156 buildings, a mix of modern and historic buildings built between 1770 and 2009. The average building is over 100 years old, and 20 buildings are under historic, protective easements. The College of Charleston downtown campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Outside of downtown Charleston, the campus includes the Grice Marine Lab on James Island, the J. Stewart Walker Sailing Center and the Patriots Point Athletic Complex in Mount Pleasant and the 881-acre (357 ha) Stono Preserve.[15]

In 2017, Travel + Leisure magazine named it "America's Most Beautiful College Campus."[16]

The Mace Brown Museum of Natural History is a public natural history museum located on the campus. The museum has more than 30,000 vertebrate and invertebrate fossils. The collection's focus is on the paleontology of North American mammals, and specifically the South Carolina Lowcountry.[17]

Bully Pulpit Series

The Bully Pulpit Series is hosted jointly by the College of Charleston's Departments of Political Science and Communication. The series welcomes U.S. presidential candidates from the two major political parties to the campus.


Major candidates that appeared during the 2008 presidential campaign included John McCain, Ron Paul, Barack Obama and John Edwards. During that season, the series was sponsored by Allstate, and attendance on the Bully Pulpit events drew over 6,000 attendees.[18]


During the 2016 presidential campaign, major candidates who participated included Lindsey Graham and Martin O'Malley.[citation needed]


In the 2020 presidential campaign, the series hosted Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, and Bernie Sanders.[19]


Main article: Charleston Cougars

The institution's 19 varsity sports teams participate in the NCAA Division I Colonial Athletic Association and are known as the Cougars. The Cougars compete at a variety of athletics facilities in the Charleston area, including the TD Arena,[20] the J. Stewart Walker Sailing Complex, Johnson Center Squash Courts, Patriots Point Athletic Complex, and the Links at Stono Ferry.

College of Charleston athletics are supported by the College of Charleston Athletic Club,[21] which was established in 1974. During the 1970–71 school year, College of Charleston students voted to change the nickname from the Maroons to the Cougars, in honor of a cougar that had recently arrived at the Charles Towne Landing zoo. Clyde the Cougar is the current mascot.[22]

Oliver Marmol, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, is a former College of Charleston baseball player.

Greek life

Greek life has been active on campus for 120 years. In 2017, four fraternities were shut down by the college for alcohol, drugs and a sexual assault.[23]

Notable alumni

Main article: List of College of Charleston people


Listed on the Register of Historic Places

Historic buildings

Other buildings


  1. ^ College of Charleston Foundation 2021 (Report).
  2. ^ "IPEDS-College of Charleston".
  3. ^ "Color Palette - College of Charleston". Archived from the original on March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  4. ^ Staff, National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings (August 1971). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: College of Charleston Complex: Main Building, Library and Gate Lodge" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved June 22, 2009. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying four photos, exterior and interior, from 1970 (1.43 MB)
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  6. ^ "College of Charleston". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on October 23, 2007. Retrieved March 19, 2008.
  7. ^ "A Brief History of the College - College of Charleston". Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  8. ^ Municipal college; Easterby, J.H. (1935)"Appendix I: Charters and Other Documents in A History of the College of Charleston, pp. 252. USA: The Scribner Press
  9. ^ Ileana Strauch and Katina Strauch,The College History Series - College of Charleston(Arcadia Publishing:Library of Congress Catalog Card: 00-106473) 2000 p6.
  10. ^ Hansen, Victoria (February 6, 2020). "College of Charleston Acknowledges its Past with the Center for the Study of Slavery". South Carolina Public Radio. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  11. ^ "Best Colleges 2023: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  12. ^ "2020 Rankings -- Masters Universities". Washington Monthly. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  13. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2023". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  14. ^ "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  15. ^ Behre, Robert. "Nixing Dixie: College of Charleston renames its plantation 'Stono Preserve'". Post and Courier. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  16. ^ "College of Charleston, America's Most Beautiful College Campus, in Photos | Travel + Leisure".
  17. ^ "Digging into the Past". Azalea Summer 2015. June 1, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  18. ^ The Bully Pulpit Series at the College of Charleston Archived 2008-12-04 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "The Bully Pulpit Series at the College of Charleston". Archived from the original on April 6, 2020. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  20. ^ Whetzel, Melissa (August 23, 2011). "College, TD Bank Sign Naming Agreement for Arena - College of Charleston News : College of Charleston News". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  21. ^ "College of Charleston Athletic Fund". Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  22. ^ "College of Charleston To Join Colonial Athletic Association, 11/30/2012". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  23. ^ Pan, Deanna (July 2, 2017). "A fourth College of Charleston fraternity has shut down due to misconduct". Post and Courier. Retrieved July 31, 2020.

Further reading

32°47′3″N 79°56′17″W / 32.78417°N 79.93806°W / 32.78417; -79.93806

  1. ^ Rachel Fleit. "The Hard-Partying College Kids Who Were Also Drug Lords". The New York Times, November 4, 2023.