History of USCB

The University of South Carolina Beaufort, a senior campus of the State’s flagship public university system, brings the University of South Carolina’s statewide mission of teaching, research, and public service to the Lowcountry of South Carolina. USCB offers baccalaureate degrees that respond to regional needs, draw upon regional strengths, and prepare graduates to contribute successfully in communities locally and around the globe. The curriculum is designed to promote acquisition of knowledge and the intellectual dispositions and skills that encourage depth of understanding, tolerance of others, and individual accountability. With the commitment of Beaufort and Jasper Counties, local donors, and extraordinary public-private partnerships, USCB is the system’s fastest growing baccalaureate university.

USCB has one of the oldest traditions of higher education in the nation, dating to the 1795 charter of Beaufort College. An act of the South Carolina legislature authorized the college to confer degrees in the liberal arts or sciences “usually conferred in other colleges in Europe and America.” The curriculum  focused on theoretical science. When the original college building was constructed in 1802, the motto was chiseled onto the cornerstone: “Virtue, Liberty and Science.” Four valedictorians of the South Carolina College (which became the University of South Carolina) and two valedictorians at Harvard before the Civil War came from Beaufort College.

Beaufort underwent a profound social revolution during the Civil War, giving rise to Beaufort College’s  second legacy: serving as headquarters for the Freedman’s Bureau. From 1865 to 1872, this federal agency brought public education to newly freed slaves.

Partnering with the University of South Carolina State and University leaders led to discussing ways to increase access to university education in the 1950’s ; in 1959, the Beaufort College building welcomed 57 students to the University of South Carolina Beaufort, a two year campus in the USC system.

Over the next thirty years, USCB developed an eight-acre campus on the waterfront in Beaufort’s historic  district— constructing buildings, renovating a former elementary school and purchasing historic properties. The University began offering classes on Hilton Head Island in 1985. By the late 1980’s,  students pursued baccalaureate degrees in several fields through USC Aiken and USC Columbia cooperative programs.

In 1994 International Paper donated eighty acres near Hilton Head Island and Dean Jane Upshaw began a campaign for USCB to become a baccalaureate university. With the support of the community, Beaufort County Council, faculty, staff, students, the Beaufort-Jasper Higher Education Commission, and the Trustees of the College of Beaufort, USCB was approved to seek baccalaureate accreditation in 2002.

Expanded as a Comprehensive University in August 2004, USCB emerged as South Carolina’s newest accredited four-year university. Six baccalaureate degrees were offered and the first building opened on the Hilton Head Gateway campus 200 acre site. The next five years saw a science building, high-tech library, on-campus housing, and campus center constructed. Degree programs doubled and USCB Sand Shark athletics debuted, joining the NAIA Sun Conference.

Over 2,100 students now pursue twenty baccalaureate degrees and more than 1,300 community members participate in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USCB. The Festival Series, USCB’s chamber music offering, celebrated its thirtieth and most successful season in 2009. In January 2009, USCB launched its BS in Nursing in new, state of the art facilities— with support from Hilton Head Regional Healthcare, Beaufort Memorial Hospital, the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, and local donors. A strategic initiative focusing the Historic Beaufort campus on the fine arts has begun with the BA in Studio Art.

Our region’s 215-year commitment to university education has remained constant —while the University of South Carolina Beaufort has responded to its needs.