Converse University
Former name
Converse College (1889–2021)
TypePrivate university
Established1889; 135 years ago (1889)
Endowment$77.6 million (2020)[1]
PresidentBoone Hopkins
ProvostJoe Wilferth
Academic staff
90 Full-time (2022)[2]

34°57′16.59″N 81°55′01.51″W / 34.9546083°N 81.9170861°W / 34.9546083; -81.9170861
CampusUrban, 70 acres (28 ha)
ColorsPurple and gold
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIConference Carolinas
MascotVal the Valkyrie

Converse University is a private university in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was established in 1889 by a group of Spartanburg residents and named after textile pioneer Dexter Edgar Converse. It was originally a women's college but now admits men.


Dexter Edgar Converse
Converse College Historic District
Converse University is located in South Carolina
Converse University
Converse University is located in the United States
Converse University
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[3]
Added to NRHPNovember 12, 1975

Converse College opened on October 1, 1890, with a student body of 168 women and 16 faculty members. The college only admitted women students and 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.[3] 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.[4][5]

The college changed its name to "Converse University" in the summer of 2021. The college also "expanded its undergraduate residential program from single-gender to co-ed" by admitting male undergraduate students in the fall of 2020.[6]


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 2016–2021
Jeffrey H. Barker[7] 2021–2021
Boone J. Hopkins [8] 2022–present


Academic rankings
Washington Monthly[9]76 of 603
U.S. News & World Report[10]46 (tie) of 103

As of August 2023, Converse offers 44 undergraduate degree programs and 28 graduate programs. The university's undergraduate program also awards certificates.[11] The University also has a presence at University Center of Greenville, a center that houses satellite campuses of several South Carolina colleges offering higher education programs.[12] Converse offers two undergraduate and three graduate degree programs at the center.[13]

The Nisbet Honors Program, established in 2000, is the university's undergraduate honors program.[14]

Converse has a Model Programs team who participate in Model Arab League and the annual International Model NATO conference hosted by Howard University.[15][16] Converse's Model Programs annually hosts the Southeastern Regional Model Arab League (SERMAL) conference.[17]


Converse Valkyries
UniversityConverse University
ConferenceConference Carolinas (primary)
NCAADivision II
Athletic directorJenn Bell
LocationSpartanburg, South Carolina
Varsity teams21 (6 men's, 12 women's, 3 co-ed)
Basketball arenaWeisiger Center/Tom and Tracy Hannah Gym
Softball stadiumTyger River Stadium
Soccer fieldHayden Abney Fulp Field at Weisiger Stadium
Lacrosse stadiumHayden Abney Fulp Field at Weisiger Stadium
Tennis venueSally Abney Rose Complex
ColorsPurple and gold[18]

Converse athletic teams are known as the Valkyries. The university is a member of the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Conference Carolinas.[citation needed]

Women's sports include acrobatics and tumbling, basketball, cross country, equestrian, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, track and field (indoor and outdoor), golf, tennis, swimming and volleyball.[citation needed]

The inaugural men's sports are basketball, cross country, soccer, tennis, track and field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball. Converse's equestrian program is coeducational, though only women participate in NCAA-recognized competition. The university also has a coeducational varsity esports team.[citation needed]

Notable alumni

Notable faculty


The concert hall, Converse College
  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  2. ^ "College Navigator - Converse University".
  3. ^ a b "National Register Information System – (#75001706)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  4. ^ Mary Ann Eaddy and Georgianna Graham (May 1975). "Converse Heights Historic District" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places – Nomination and Inventory. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  5. ^ "Converse College Historic District, Spartanburg County (Spartanburg)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved July 1, 2014. and accompanying map
  6. ^ "Converse College Board of Trustees Announces Dynamic Changes". Converse College. February 7, 2020. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  7. ^ Duncan, Holly (July 22, 2021). "Converse University Mourns the Death of President Jeffrey H. Barker" (PDF). Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  8. ^ "Converse Announces Appointment of Boone J. Hopkins as Twelfth President". Converse University. February 25, 2022. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  9. ^ "2023 Master's University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  10. ^ "Best Colleges 2023: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  11. ^ University, Converse. "Programs Archive". Converse University. Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  12. ^ "FAQ". University Center of Greenville. Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  13. ^ "Bachelors Degree Program Near Spartanburg, SC". University Center of Greenville. Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  14. ^ "Nisbet Honors Program | Converse University". Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  15. ^ "Home". International Model Nato. Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  16. ^ University, Converse. "Model Programs". Converse University. Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  17. ^ "Southeast Regional Model Arab League – Model Arab League Youth Leadership Development Program". Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  18. ^ "CONVERSE UNIVERSITY". Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  19. ^ "Broadway actress Kimilee Bryant returns to Greenville". The Greenville News. June 10, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  20. ^ "Milestones, Apr. 24, 1950". Time. April 24, 1950. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved June 15, 2023.
  21. ^ Converse College, Y's and other Y's (Spartanburg, SC: 1948), 78, Spartanburg County Public Libraries, , Accessed 14 June 2023.
  22. ^ "WEDDINGS; Sutton Brown, Christian Stracke". New York Times. May 14, 2000. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  23. ^ Atkins, Nancy (April 12, 1972). "Shah of Iran's Sister Attended Converse in 1947-1948". Spartanburg Herald. p. 1.
  24. ^ "به مناسبت در گذشت شادروان دکتر کوکب معارفی الهی" [On the occasion of the happy passing of Dr. Kokab Maarefhi Elahi]. The Official Website of Farah Pahlavi. January 30, 2020. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  25. ^ The Grove Dictionary of American Music. OUP USA. January 2013. ISBN 978-0-19-531428-1.