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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.


The Lander University Story

Rev. Samuel Lander
The Rev. Samuel Lander, Founder

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.

A Brief History of Lander University

Samuel Lander Documentary

Rev. Samuel Lander taken in 1903. He is 70.

Samuel Lander - His Life and Legacy is the awe inspiring story of a pioneer of education, determination, and steadfast faith. The lively biography follows the journey through the rigorous, remarkable life of Dr. Samuel Lander - founder of modern day Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina.

Produced by Paul Crutcher and Robert Stevenson, this documentary allows viewers to experience the challenges and determination of Dr. Lander from childhood through to his lasting legacy. Follow Lander's footsteps through the Piedmont region of the Carolinas to the sweeping landscapes of Virginia overcoming seemingly unsurmountable challenges along the way.

Countless hours of research has resulted in a highly accurate, thoroughly enjoyable, and deeply emotional documentary film.


Documentary Trailer


The DVD includes:

  • 45 minutes of bonus behind the scenes footage
  • Documentary Trailer
  • Director's Commentary
  • Documenting the Documentary - Photography by Rachael Hughes


The DVD is available for purchase in the Bearcat Shop.

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The Making of the Samuel Lander Documentary Project