Jun 13, 2024  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Our Legacy

History of the University

The year was 1904 when a very determined young black woman, Mary McLeod Bethune, opened the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. It underwent several stages of growth and development through the years. As a result of a merger with Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida, it became a co-ed high school in 1923.  A year later, the school became affiliated with the United Methodist Church, evolved into a junior college by 1931, and became known as Bethune-Cookman College. In 1941, the Florida State Department of Education approved baccalaureate programs offering liberal arts and teacher education.

Mrs. Bethune retired in 1942, and Dr. James E. Colton became president. In 1946, Mrs. Bethune resumed the presidency for one additional year. In 1947, Dr. Richard V. Moore Sr., became Bethune-Cookman’s president. The curriculum expanded, student enrollment increased, and new buildings were constructed for residential housing and classrooms. Under Dr. Moore’s tenure, the College received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and in 1970, joined the United Negro College Fund and other academic and professional organizations.

Dr. Oswald P. Bronson Sr., an alumnus, served as its fourth president from 1975 to 2004. Dr. Bronson increased student enrollment and led to the College’s continuous development and expansion. Degree offerings increased from 12 in 1974 to 37 by 2003, and seven continuing education centers were operated throughout the state. A rapidly increasing student enrollment resulted in the construction of more student housing and academic buildings.

Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed served as the College’s fifth president from 2004 to 2012. Under Dr. Reed’s leadership, the International Institute for Civic Participation and Social Responsibility was launched, expanding student learning about citizenship and leadership development. Under her tenure, with the addition of graduate programs in Transformative Leadership and Integrated Environmental Sciences in 2007, the College became a University. Campus improvements included the Rev. Eugene Zimmerman and Alexis Pugh Student Scholarship Houses, the L. Gale Lemerand School of Nursing, Michael & Libby Johnson Center for Civic Engagement, Odessa Chambliss Wellness Center, and Lee E. Rhyant Residential Life Center.

In March 2012, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Edison O. Jackson as the sixth president of Bethune-Cookman University. During his short tenure, he has increased philanthropic giving to the University and garnered the support of the community that was evident during the presidency of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. In addition, he has remodeled the Dining Hall, upgraded Joyner and Bronson Halls, renovated Gertrude Heyn Memorial Chapel, and broken ground to add 4 additional floors to the Harrison Rhodes Memorial Social Science building.

In addition to maintaining its accreditations with SACS, the Florida State Board of Education, and the United Methodist Church Board of Higher Education, the College added new accreditations for Nursing and Teacher Education programs. Since 1943, Bethune-Cookman has graduated more than 15,000 students who have continued to provide support to their alma mater. Many alumni are employed in the fields of education, healthcare, business, politics, government, science, religion, athletics, environmental sciences, and research.

Bethune-Cookman University Mission, Vision and Core Values

University Mission Statement

The mission of Bethune-Cookman University is to develop global leaders committed to service, life-long learning and diversity by providing a faith-based environment of academic excellence and transformative experiences.

Revised by the Bethune-Cookman Board of Trustees, October, 2013

Vision for the Future

Bethune-Cookman University seeks to define a new standard for academic excellence as a way to become the best small college in the southern region.  To educate and empower people to seek their own solution; to advocate for opportunities for all citizens to improve their quality of life; and to inculcate an international perspective that would facilitate a keen appreciation of the new global realities.


Core Values

The University is guided by its five core values:


F - Faith:  We recognize and uphold the Christian tradition while welcoming the diversity of faiths.

I - Integrity:  We live in a way that reflects our deepest convictions.

R - Respect:  We recognize the inherent dignity and worth of each person.

S - Service:  We seek social justice through civic engagement.

T- Thirst for Knowledge:  We are engaged in the continuous pursuit of learning that transforms us and the world.

Last Will and Testament

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune left a heritage in the college she founded. She also left her Last Will and Testament, an everlasting and priceless document of challenge, hope, and responsibility for African-Americans and other people, which states the following:


I leave you love. Love builds. It is positive and helpful. It is more beneficial than hate.

I leave you hope. The Negroes’ growth will be great in the years to come. Theirs will be a better world. This I believe with all my heart.

I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. As long as Negroes are hemmed into racial blocks by prejudice and pressure, it will be necessary for them to band together for economic betterment.

I leave you a thirst for education. Knowledge is the prime need of the Hour.  If we continue in this trend, we will be able to rear increasing numbers of strong, purposeful men and women, equipped with vision, mental clarity, health and education.

I leave you a respect for the uses of power. We live in a world, which respects power above all things. Power, intelligently directed, can lead to more freedom.

I leave you faith. Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.

I leave you racial dignity. I want Negroes to maintain their human dignity at all costs. We, as Negroes, must recognize that we are the custodians as well as the heirs of a great civilization.

I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with our fellow men. The problem of color is world- wide. It is found in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. I appeal to American Negroes - North, South, East and West - to recognize their common problems and unite to solve them.

I leave you finally a responsibility to our young people. The world around us really belongs to youth, for youth will take over its future management. Our children must never lose their zeal for building a better world.

If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving. As I face tomorrow, I am content, for I think I have spent my life well. I pray now that my philosophy may be helpful to those who share my vision of a world of Peace, Progress, Brotherhood and Love.”


The Mary McLeod Bethune Home
“The Foundation”

A National Historic Landmark

Built in 1905, the Mary McLeod Bethune home is where Dr. Bethune lived and conducted much of the official business of the college she founded in 1904. The grounds of Dr. Bethune’s home are also the location of her final resting place. A memorial gravesite and garden are located in close proximity to her home. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1975. On July 10, 1977, her 102nd birthday, a second marker was erected at the home by the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, in cooperation with the Amoco Foundation. The site is also the 94th United Methodist Historic Site. The home currently serves as a museum and is visited by public and private school students, as well as, Native Floridians and national and international tourists. Visitors capture just a bit of the greatness of this remarkable woman and receive inspiration from the legacy that Dr. Bethune willed to the American public.