Saint Augustine’s University was chartered as a “Normal School and Collegiate Institute” on July 19, 1867, by the Reverend J. Brinton Smith, D.D., secretary of the Freedman’s Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Right Reverend Thomas Atkinson, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. Bishop Atkinson became the first president of the Board of Trustees and Dr. Smith was the first principal. The new school opened its doors for instruction on January 13, 1868.
In 1893, the School’s name changed from Saint Augustine’s Normal School to Saint Augustine’s School. In 1919, the name changed to Saint Augustine’s Junior College, the first year in which postsecondary instruction was offered. The School became a four-year institution in 1927. In 1928, the institution was renamed Saint Augustine’s College. Baccalaureate degrees were first awarded in 1931.
The College further extended its mission by establishing St. Agnes Hospital and Training School for Nurses to provide medical care for and by African Americans. It was the “first” school of nursing in the state of North Carolina for African-American students and served as the only hospital that served African Americans until 1960. One of St. Agnes most famous patients was boxer Jack Johnson. Following an accident that ultimately led to his death in 1946, Jack Johnson was taken to St. Agnes Hospital. Johnson was the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion.
Another “first” Saint Augustine’s University is especially proud of is that the University was the nation’s first historically black university to own an on-campus commercial radio station (WAUG-AM Power 750) and television station (WAUG-TV 168).
The University also owns and operates a hidden gem, Saint Augustine’s University Golf Course and Recreation Complex at Meadowbrook, a 9-hole golf course in Garner, NC. Founded as Meadowbrook Country Club in 1958, it was the area’s only private golf club for African Americans. The club purchased 136 acres of former tobacco land and pioneered one of the country’s first country clubs for African Americans. The University purchased Meadowbrook in 2007 and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since the beginning of its existence, Saint Augustine’s University has blazed the trails in academics. Alumna Anna Julia Cooper, who was a prominent writer, educator and scholar, became the fourth African-American woman in united states to earn a doctoral degree. Today, Saint Augustine’s University is proud of preserving its legacy by continuing to ensure scholars are academically equipped to be the global change agents of tomorrow.
Falcons not only soar in academics but also in athletics. The men’s track and field team has experienced the victory of being Number #1 on numerous occasions. Saint Augustine’s University alumnus, legendary head track and field coach and athletic director, George “Pup” Williams, has built a dynasty in track and field and cross country at the University. Since he began coaching in 1976, his track and field programs have won an astounding 36 national championships including the 2014 and 2013 NCAA Division II Men’s Indoor Championships and the 2014 and 2013 NCAA Division II Men's Outdoor Championship. Williams has also coached 39 Olympians including three gold medalists.
On August 1, 2012 when Saint Augustine’s College transitioned in name and status to Saint Augustine’s University.
Saint Augustine’s University has a strong tradition of excellence and a rich legacy that bonds thousands of Saint Augustine’s University sons and daughters from across the globe.