Saint Augustine’s University has a strong tradition of excellence and a rich legacy that ties the bonds of thousands of sons and daughters of this great institution from across the globe.
Saint Augustine’s University was incorporated in July 1867 by Episcopal priests. The university began as a normal school with a technical and trade-related program and subsequently adopted a liberal arts curriculum. The school 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 1940. One of its most famous patients was boxer Jack Johnson, the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion, who was taken to the hospital following a fatal 1946 auto accident near Franklinton, NC.
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 University, 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 and in 2013, the university graduated its largest graduating class in the university’s history. Another pivotal moment occurred on August 1, 2012 when Saint Augustine’s College transtioned in name and status to Saint Augustine’s University.
A priority from the beginning, the institution recognized the importance of spiritual formation for its students. Affiliated with the Episcopal Church, Saint Augustine’s University was started by twelve Episcopal priests to teach freedmen. On Tuesday, October 11, 1897, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, the Rt. Rev. J. B. Cheshire, consecrated the university chapel. Alumnus Henry Beard Delany, the first African-American elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, led as a teacher of carpentry and masonry at Saint Augustine’s University. Students who were enrolled in the carpentry and masonry classes were required to construct the university’s chapel, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Delany and his wife, Nanny, were the parents of 10 children, all of whom were born at St. Agnes Hospital. Two of their children, Sadie and Bessie, are alumnae of Saint Augustine’s University. The Delany sisters’ best-selling memoir, “Having Our Say,” was made into a hit Broadway play.
Today, Saint Augustine’s University is a four-year, private, liberal arts university in Raleigh, N.C. The university offers more than 20 undergraduate degree programs and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
One “first” that Saint Augustine’s University is especially proud of is that the university was the nation’s first historically black university to own 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. Among its charter members were leaders from the African-American community. 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. During the 2012-2013 academic year, the National Science Foundation awarded Saint Augustine’s University a $300,000 grant to expand the university’s course offerings in its biology degree curriculum to include courses in plant biology and environmental science. In June 2014, the university received another grant from the National Science Foundation in the amount of $200,000 to increase the number of underrepresented minorities that elect to pursue advanced degrees and careers in the a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.
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. The men’s track & field team won the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championship in May 2014. This was the second time the Falcons won the Division II national indoor and outdoor championship.
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 35 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 coached 39 Olympians, including three gold medalists. He has been the recipient of more than 150 track and field Coach of the Year honors, including the 2014 NCAA Division IINational Indoor and Outdoor Men's Coach of the Year and the 2013 NCAA Division II National Indoor and Outdoor Men’s Coach of the Year Awards by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Saint Augustine’s University is a member of the NCAA-Division II and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). The university offers football, men’s and women’s basketball, track & field and cross country, baseball, softball, golf, volleyball and bowling.
On May 19, 2014, Saint Augustine’s University captured the CIAA Team Highest Grade Point Average Award in baseball, football, women’s basketball and women’s volleyball for the 2013- 2014 athletic season.
Some of Saint Augustine’s University’s notable alumni include one of America’s most gifted and distinguished artists, Dr. Selma Burke. Her most famous work is the bust of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that is on the United States dime. Alumna Anna Julia Cooper became the fourth African-American woman in the United States to earn a doctorate degree. The university is also proud to boast about alumnus Ralph Campbell, Jr., who was the first African American to be elected State Auditor in North Carolina.
Descendants of the university’s founding fathers are also notable in their own right. Smedes York, who served two terms as mayor of Raleigh, serving from 1979 to 1983, is the great, great grandson of Rev. Aldert Smedes, who was also one of the founders of Saint Mary’s School (now St. Mary’s College) in Raleigh. Raleigh Atty. Joseph B. Cheshire V, who has been selected as one of North Carolina’s top 10 lawyers, is the great, great grandson of Rev. Joseph B. Cheshire Sr., a founder of Saint Augustine’s University.