Chowan University is a comprehensive, coeducational, residential, church-related university on a beautiful campus in northeastern North Carolina in the historic town of Murfreesboro. It is the second oldest of North Carolina’s five Baptist colleges. It opened in 1848 as a four-year college for women, Chowan Baptist Female Institute. It was renamed Chowan College in 1910, admitted male students in 1931, and became a two-year institution in 1937. In 1992 Chowan College returned to four-year status. In 2006 the institution was renamed Chowan University to reflect the quality, diversity and growth of the institution.
The Setting of Chowan University
Chowan University is located in the historic and picturesque town of Murfreesboro, North Carolina. Located in the old Albemarle region of North Carolina, between the Roanoke and Chowan Rivers, the Murfreesboro area was first visited by John White of Roanoke Island in the 16th century and by an expedition from Jamestown, Virginia in the 17th century. During this era, the principal inhabitants were several Indian tribes such as the Nottoways, Meherrins, and the Chowanokes.
Old deeds indicate that settlers lived on the site of Murfreesboro as early as 1710. William Murfree, an Irish immigrant, established a King’s Landing where exports and imports were inspected by a representative of the English Crown. The site was known as Murfree’s Landing. In 1787 William Murfree donated 97 acres of land for the incorporation of the town, which was named for him.
Murfreesboro was the port of call for the 18th and early 19th century sailing vessels that brought New England, West Indian, and European goods in trade for the naval stores and agricultural products of eastern North Carolina.
Today, the stately old homes whisper of rich, romantic colonial and antebellum days. In historic Murfreesboro is the boyhood home of Dr. Walter Reed, discoverer of the cure for yellow fever. There are extensive museums of America’s past, one of which is devoted to the inventions of Richard Jordan Gatling, inventor of the Gatling Gun, who was born near Murfreesboro.
The quaint village is currently undergoing an extensive restoration program. Hundreds of citizens and friends are working together to re-capture the flavor of a culturally minded colonial town. Students are encouraged to be part of these activities.
Chowan University is easily accessible; being located less than 30 miles from I-95, one and one-half hour drive from the Outer Banks, North Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia. Less than an hour from campus are many recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing, hunting and bicycling. Chowan University enjoys the lifestyle of a relatively small institution in a small town but yet has the advantage of being centrally located to urban resources and recreation.
Chowan University chooses to emphasize the personal touch by keeping its enrollment to about 1500 students. These undergraduates come from many states and foreign countries. Slightly more than half of the students are women, and the student body includes several racial and socioeconomic groups. Chowan University admits students of any race, sex, color, and national or ethnic origin without discrimination. This diversity reflects the nature of American society and enriches the life of the campus. Most students live in campus housing.
Chowan University is committed to the liberal arts as the best preparation students can have for meaningful lives. Also, the University offers a variety of academic programs in career-oriented fields such as teacher education and criminal justice. All of the programs at Chowan University are evaluated periodically by accrediting agencies to ensure that quality standards are maintained.
The undergraduate baccalaureate programs are designed to help students gain maximum benefit by providing a balanced curriculum in general studies, a major field, minor field(s) and selected electives. Students are encouraged to learn to think critically, to communicate ideas orally, in written form and through computers, and to live worthy lives. In addition to courses in languages, history, religion and culture, upper-level courses provide opportunities for preparation in areas of special interest and in professional and career-oriented fields. To meet individual needs the academic programs include independent study and career internships.
The University has a graduate school offering masters degrees. Classes are scheduled in the evenings and summers to accommodate the needs of adult students. The first graduate program is a Master of Education degree in elementary education.
Complementing the academic programs at Chowan University is a comprehensive student life program with many activities designed to help students develop their personalities, enjoy the university experience, and make lifelong friends.
Chowan University is blessed with dedicated staff and excellent faculty, a large percentage of whom have earned doctorates. The faculty has been chosen because of their academic preparation, Christian commitment, and desire for excellence in teaching. Many of the Chowan University’s faculty have blessed the institution with long years of service. The faculty is large enough to provide quality academic experiences for students. Yet a strength of the University is that it has remained small enough so that the relationship between faculty and students is friendly, in-depth and potentially life changing. The faculty/student ratio is 1:15.
Chowan University’s academic year is divided into two semesters and a summer school. The fall semester lasts for four months and ends prior to the Christmas holidays. Following a four-month spring semester is a summer school term. Students often use the summer term to make up academic work or to accelerate completion of degree requirements.
The calendar is designed to meet the needs of full-time and part-time students with day and evening classes.
Various study-abroad programs complement the academic calendar. The University offers workshops and seminars on a variety of topics for numerous groups throughout the year.
Chowan University at Murfreesboro is located near the birthplace of American civilization and the beginning area of Baptist work in North Carolina. In the spring of 1848, a group of fathers gathered at “Mulberry Grove,” home of Dr. Godwin Cotton Moore, moderator of the Chowan Baptist Association. These men were determined to have an institution that would give their daughters a well-rounded education, and they presented a resolution to the Association. The Association appointed the first trustees for the “female high school” to be called Chowan Female Institute. Dr. Archibald McDowell of South Carolina was elected first principal, and the Institute opened on October 11, 1848 with eleven students. Thus began the institution that has had major impact on the lives of thousands of persons over more than 155 years.
The institution overcame gloomy prospects in its early years to survive the challenges of the Civil War years. During 1897-1914 the Institute was transformed into a standard Senior College. It was renamed Chowan College in 1910, admitted male students in 1931. Due to financial pressures the College changed from four-year to two-year status in 1937. The World War II years saw the closure of Chowan College. After being closed six years Chowan College reopened in 1949 as a two-year coeducational institution.
In 1992 Chowan College returned to four-year status and has now developed a solid reputation for academic quality and leadership in the cultural and religious life of eastern North Carolina and Virginia. In September 2006 the name of the institution was changed to Chowan University. Historically the University has played a significant role in Graphic Communication and the arts. As a university a strong reputation has been built in areas such as the preparation of teachers, biologists and historians. In 2010 the university began offering a Master of Education degree in elementary education.
Although there have been many changes over the years, Chowan University remains closely related to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The University holds in high esteem its commitment to intellectual, social, and spiritual growth. The administration and faculty believe in and insist upon intellectual freedom, while continuing the commitment to Christian principles.
Chowan University opened in 1848 but closed during the World War II years. Presidents since the reopening are as follows:
Bonnie David Bunn, 1949-51
Forest Orion Mixon, 1951-56
Bruce E. Whitaker, 1957-1989
Jerry F. Jackson, 1989-1995
Stanley G. Lott, 1996-2003
M. Christopher White, 2003-Current.
Chowan University, grounded in its Christian faith, transforms the lives of students of promise.
The University fosters its mission by
- ensuring its Christian character informs all its endeavors.
- equipping students with the knowledge, skills, and ethical values necessary to flourish in a culturally diverse, global society.
- promoting active participation in discovery and creative activities.
- providing a supportive teaching and learning environment.
- enrolling and retaining promising students of all backgrounds.
- meeting the students’ social and spiritual needs by affording personal attention in a caring community.
- cultivating relationships with students, alumni, churches, corporations, foundations, and other stakeholders.
- maintaining stewardship of its physical, financial, and human resources.
- offering intercollegiate athletic programs that enhance the academic and personal development of all student-athletes while promoting individual and team success.
We honor our Christian heritage, embracing and sharing the light and truth of God. We believe that Faith in Your Future underscores all that we do.
We value individuals with diverse backgrounds and points of view, appreciating that inclusion cultivates acceptance and encourages the freedom of thought and expression. We believe our commitment to inclusion allows each member of our community to teach, learn, serve, and live in an atmosphere of respect and dignity.
We encourage a questioning spirit, understanding that scholarship and its quest for knowledge is the cornerstone of imagination. We believe a learning environment that promotes imagination leads to discovery and creates a culture of lifelong learning.
We foster a caring environment, engaging all members of the university community as active participants in service to one another and the greater world. We believe that a spirit of service is central to our faith and learning traditions.
Chowan University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Chowan University. In addition, several departmental programs are accredited by the appropriate state or national agencies. The Education program is accredited by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The University program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). The University is authorized by the immigration authorities of the United States for the training of foreign students.
Campus and Buildings
The Chowan University campus is beautiful, spacious and filled with lakes and ancient pines and majestic oaks. A circular drive (seven-tenths of a mile in length) provides easy access to the campus facilities and includes a beautifully landscaped oval lawn. Almost 400 acres of rolling land provide more than adequate space for buildings, playing fields and landscaped areas. The present living and dining facilities are designed to serve a resident student body of approximately 1,400. The campus is outfitted with wireless technology (WiFi). Campus facilities and buildings include the following:
Athletic Fields consist of many acres of practice and playing fields for football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse and softball. There is adequate space for all sports, intramural and intercollegiate.
Belk Hall is a three story building erected in 1964 that provides residential space for 200 female students. It was named in honor of Carol Grotnes Belk, wife of former State Senator Irwin Belk of Charlotte, NC. The building was renovated in 2015.
Brave Hawks House, added to the campus in 2014, provides office space for baseball, softball, golf and tennis coaches as well as study space for student-athletes.
Camp Hall, constructed in 1972-73 and significantly renovated in 2008, houses instruction in mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, teacher education, psychology and academic support. It also houses the offices of the Graduate School. The building is named in memory of Carrie Savage Camp, class of 1882 and wife of James Leonidas Camp, Sr., one of the principal co-founders of Camp Manufacturing Company.
Camp President’s House is a beautiful and spacious colonial structure located on campus near the entry gates. Completed in 1989, the house was named for Ella Cobb Camp by her daughter Texie Camp Marks, their family and friends.
Daniel Hall, erected in 1968, is the home of the Department of Music. The building contains classrooms, rehearsal rooms, practice rooms, the Music Media Center, a computer lab, faculty offices, and the Briley Recital Hall. The building is named in memory of Jeannette Snead Daniel, a former music professor.
Dunn Hall was constructed in 1963 and extensively renovated in 2006. It provides residential space for 216 male students. Originally known as Dormitory B for Men, the facility was later known as West Hall. In 1990 it was rededicated as Dunn Hall in honor of Charles Kelly Dunn, Jr., of Littleton, NC, and in memory of his parents.
Early-Myers Development House was purchased in 2014 and houses the University Development Offices. It is named in honor of trustee and former chair of the Board of Trustees Elaine Early Myers (class of 1960) and alumnus Lawrence W. Myers (class of 1954). The Myers are residents of Ahoskie, NC.
Garrison Stadium is named in memory of long-time football coach and Director of Athletics Jim Garrison and seats 3,000 for intercollegiate football games. The press box and permanent bleachers were installed in 1989.
Green Hall, erected in 1956, served as the science building until 1974. The facility was renovated and expanded to contain classrooms, studios, offices and art galleries in support of the visual arts program. Green Hall is named in memory of Mary Olivia Parker Green, the only alumnus of the class of 1863.
Hassell Center was constructed in 2013 and houses the maintenance, housekeeping and grounds departments. It is named in memory of longtime Director of Maintenance Jack Hassell.
Hawkins Field, built in 1964-65 is the site of Chowan University’s intercollegiate baseball games. Located in a scenic part of the campus, the field is named in honor of Jerry Lee Hawkins, long-time Chowan baseball coach and faculty member.
Hawks Nest, originally constructed in 1954 as a physical education center, was renovated in 2017 and currently provides space for campus programming, campus ministry, the student post office, lounge areas, TV room, game room, chapel, and Murf’s snack bar.
Helms Center, constructed in 1978-80 and named in memory of former senator of North Carolina Jesse Helms, is a significant complex that houses the office of the Director of Athletics, Sports Information Director and offices for many coaches. Included in the Center is a gym area that has three full-size basketball courts and seats 3,100 for basketball and volleyball games. A weight room, athletic training facilities, the Mulberry Grove room, and the Bynum Rhodes Brown Aquatics Center complete the Center.
Horner Hall is an 18,000 square foot two-story structure located near Lake Vann. Constructed in 1982-83 and named in honor of William Edwin Horner, Sr., a veteran North Carolina newspaperman, it houses the Krueger School of Graphic Communication. This program has celebrated more than fifty years of service and is considered one of the best in the nation.
Jenkins Center is a state of the art wellness center that opened in 2002. Named after alumnus J. M. Jenkins of Murfreesboro the facility contains a gymnasium, aerobics room and a variety of exercise equipment and weights.
Jenkins Hall, erected in 1958, is a residence hall for female students. It is named in memory of Charles H. Jenkins and in honor of his mother, Mrs. Olivia Benthall Jenkins.
Kerr Gazebo is located just east of McDowell Columns Building. Named in memory of Susan Parker Kerr, the gazebo houses the ancient university bell that is rung by each freshman and new graduate.
Lake Vann was completed in 1970 and dedicated to the memory of George L. and Nannie Alma Jenkins Vann. The two sections of the lake wind through the center of campus. While adding to the beauty of the campus, the lake also provides canoeing and fishing opportunities.
Marks Hall, erected in 1962-64, is a three story structure that houses academic programs in English, foreign languages, religion and philosophy, and the social sciences. Vaughan Auditorium, named for Howard C. Vaughan is used for lectures and various programs. The building was provided primarily by gifts from the family of the late Robert Marks of Boykins, Virginia. The building was renovated in 2011.
McDowell Columns Hall, erected in 1851, is an imposing brick and concrete structure, with eight massive columns and broad veranda, characteristic of the old South. Now listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, the building was named McDowell Columns in 1968 to honor and memorialize Dr. Archibald McDowell, President, 1848-1849, 1862-81, and his daughter Dr. Eunice McDowell, class of 1876. In 2008 the exterior of the building was renovated with beautiful landscaping planted. Today the building contains most administrative offices (president, provost, business office, admissions and financial aid) and the campus bookstore. Turner Auditorium, which seats 650 is part of the complex and is the favored site of concerts and lectures. It is named in memory of the Reverend John Clyde Turner (1878-1974).
McSweeney Hall originally housed the printing program of the University and is named in memory of John McSweeney, who first chaired the department. It currently houses the School of Business and provides classroom, laboratory and office space for instruction in business administration and computer science/information systems.
Mixon Hall is a two-story residence hall, erected in 1954, that provides accommodations for 50 students in private rooms. It is named in memory of Dr. F. O. Mixon, a former president of Chowan University.
Parker Hall, named in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Elwood Whittier Parker, is a nine-story residence hall constructed in 1970. It provides residential space for 280 students. The facility contains lounge and recreational space as well as apartments for staff. It was renovated in 2015.
Penny Hall was erected in 1964 with funding provided primarily by Mrs. W. S. Penny of Raleigh, NC. The facility provides office space for Student Life personnel, including the Dean and career planning and placement.
Pond Football Center, completed in 2014, is named in honor of alumnus and trustee Charles B. Pond III and his wife Juanita. The building houses coaching offices, a team room suitable for large functions, and a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning center for the football athletes.
Reed Hall, named in memory of Dr. Walter Reed, discoverer of the cure for yellow fever, was originally part of Murfreesboro High School. One part of the building houses the offices of the Sport Studies and Physical Education Program. The other section houses the classrooms.
Rose Family Tennis Center, completed in 2015, contains eight lighted championship courts. The complex is named for the Rose family of Rose Paving Company. W. Frank Rose, Jr. serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Safety and Security House, added to the campus in 2014, provides office space for the campus security force as well as visitor information.
Simons Hall is a three-story brick structure, erected in 1960, which provides residential space for 118 students. It is named in memory of W. L. (Roy) Simons. This building was remodeled in 2013.
Thomas Dining Hall, constructed in 1959, provides the main dining area for students. It also houses the Chowan Room, used for special meetings and meals for students, faculty/staff, and other groups. The structure is named in memory of Dr. R. P. Thomas, a long-time member of the Chowan University Board of Trustees. The lower level contains the Human Resources offices, the post office, and the Wayland L. Jenkins Fine Arts Center.
University House, secured in 2010, is used for the public relations and publication offices of the Development Office.
Vincent Athletic Center, built in 2016 and located near the soccer/lacrosse stadium, it houses state-of-the-art coaching staff offices and lockeroom faclities for men and women’s soccer and men and women’s lacrosse teams.
Whitaker Library is a three-story structure of contemporary design. It was constructed in 1968 and named in honor of President Emeritus Bruce E. Whitaker and his wife Esther, faculty emeritus. The library houses a substantial collection of learning resources as well as a number of special collections, including the Baptist collection, the Instructional Materials Center, and items of historical interest to Chowan University and northeastern North Carolina. The building was renovated in 2011.
Whites Crossing, built in 2012, 2014 and 2016, consists of nine apartment and suite style buildings in a village setting. The complex is named for President M. Christopher White, his wife, Linda, and their family. Dr. White has been President of Chowan University since 2003.
About 30 minutes from campus is the Jenkins Retreat Center given to the University by Joe Henry and Jennie Jenkins. Twenty-five acres with a diverse habitat is suitable for hiking, recreation and science experiments. A small cabin is available for meetings and small conferences.
A limited but increasing number of undergraduate courses are offered on an on-line format in addition to the traditional classroom format. For information contact the Vice President for Academic Affairs or the appropriate department chairperson.
Visitors to Chowan University are welcome at all times. The administrative offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Interviews and campus tours are available during office hours Monday through Friday. Administrative officers and members of the faculty are available at other times by appointment.
Chowan University is in the town of Murfreesboro, NC just 12 miles south of the Virginia/North Carolina line. The University is less than 30 miles from Interstate 95. Highways US 58 and US 158 intersect in Murfreesboro. The University is accessible to airline services at the Norfolk International Airport.
When a personal visit to campus is not feasible, the University can be experienced on the Internet at www.chowan.edu. The web site is filled with information about the University including campus life, academic programs and faculty, athletics, cultural events and other events making news at Chowan University. On-line admissions are available.