Anderson University traces its origin to one of the first institutions of higher learning for women in the United States. The Johnson Female Seminary opened in the village of Anderson in 1848. The founder was the Reverend William B. Johnson, a Baptist who was the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The school the Reverend Mr. Johnson founded was forced to close during the Civil War and did not reopen; but in time a new generation carried on what had been begun at that institution. A group of public-spirited citizens, desirous of having an institution of higher learning in Anderson, offered 32 acres of land and $100,000 to the South Carolina Baptist Convention at their meeting in 1910. The convention nominated a group of trustees, and Anderson College was granted a charter in 1911 by the South Carolina General Assembly. In 1912, the College opened its doors and operated as a four-year college for women until 1930. In 1929, the South Carolina Baptist Convention approved the institution's transition to a junior college, the first in the state. The College became a coeducational two-year institution in 1930.
In December, 1989, the Board of Trustees voted to return the College to its status as a four-year institution, beginning with the fall semester of 1991. This decision was subsequently affirmed by a unanimous vote of the General Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. The first four-year class since 1930 graduated in May, 1993.
In the spring of 2005, Anderson's Board of Trustees voted for a change to university status for the institution to reflect the new addition of graduate programs and a reorganization of the academic divisions into colleges. On January 1, 2006, Anderson College became Anderson University.
The community of Anderson, having given birth to the University, has nurtured and supported the institution throughout the University's history. In turn, the University has provided intellectual, cultural, and recreational opportunities for the citizens of the Anderson area, and has made a significant contribution to the economy of the community.
Presidents of Anderson University
| Dr. John Alexander Chambliss
| Dr. John F. Vines
| Dr. James Pinckney Kinard
| Dr. John Ellington White
| Dr. Annie Dove Denmark
| Dr. Elmer Francis Haight
| Dr. John Edward Rouse
| Dr. Jesse Cordell Maddox
| Dr. Ray Pearce Rust
| Dr. Mark Lee Hopkins
| Dr. Lee Gardner Royce
| Dr. Evans P. Whitaker