History of Lander

From its beginning as a college for women to its current role as a public, co-educational, comprehensive teaching institution, Lander has a rich history of serving the educational needs of a diverse student population.

History of Lander

The Lander University Story

Lander University was founded as a college for women by Methodist clergyman Samuel Lander in 1872, as Williamston Female College in Williamston, South Carolina. It remained a private institution for 26 years.

In 1898, the college gained the support of the South Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1904, the college was relocated to Greenwood, S.C., and was renamed Lander College in honor of its founder.

Men were admitted in 1943, and the institution is now completely coeducational.

In 1948, when the Methodist Conference, pursuant to a policy of consolidation in its education efforts, decided to end support of Lander College, interested citizens of Greenwood formed The Lander Foundation as a nonprofit corporation and leased the college from the church.

In 1951, the county of Greenwood obtained the College name and property from the Methodist Conference. The South Carolina General Assembly created the Greenwood County Education Commission, known as The Lander Foundation, to serve as the board of control for the College. Lander thus became the only four-year liberal arts college in the United States to be controlled and financed by a county government.

On July 1, 1973, Lander College came under the control of the Board of Trustees of the State Colleges of South Carolina, making Lander a state-assisted college. The State College Board of Trustees governed Lander, the College of Charleston, and Francis Marion College. Effective July 1, 1988, governance of Lander was vested in the Lander College Board of Trustees.

On July 1, 1992, by action of the Board of Trustees, the institution became Lander University.

The University has been served by twelve presidents: Samuel Lander (1872-1904); John O. Willson (1904-1923); B. Rhett Turnipseed (1923-1927); R. H. Bennett (1927-1932); John W. Speake (1932-1941); John Marvin Rast (1941-1948); Boyce M. Grier (1948-1966); E. Don Herd, Jr. (1966-1973); Larry A. Jackson (1973-1992); William C. Moran (1992-2000); Daniel W. Ball (2000-2015); and Richard E. Cosentino (2015-present).

Lander University subscribes to a policy of equal educational and employment opportunity for all.

Samuel LanderThe Rev. Samuel Lander, Founder