Our History

How it Started

A group of Christians early in 1942 launched a movement to establish a private college somewhere in Florida. Informal meetings with larger groups of members of churches of Christ were held and discussions continued until 1944. On June 6, 1944, a state-wide meeting was held at Lakeland, Florida, at which a Board of Directors was selected and a finance committee appointed. A charter was drafted, which provided that all board personnel would be active members in good standing of some local church of Christ, but that the College would be independent. No finances are accepted from any church and there is no organizational tie between the College and any church. The Board nominates and elects its own members and is in every way independent of any church. On December 21, 1944, the College was officially designated as Florida Christian College. On June 1, 1963, the name was changed to Florida College.
History at a Glance
Florida College received its first students in 1946. The underlying philosophy of the education provided at Florida College is expressed by its founders in the charter of incorporation: “To establish and maintain a college wherein the arts, sciences and languages shall be taught and also to provide opportunity for young men and young women to study the Bible as the revealed will of God to man and as the only sufficient rule of faith and practice, while they are educated in the liberal arts.”

Our First Students

The College received its first students September 16, 1946. L. R. Wilson of San Antonio, Texas, was chosen as first president and began his work in February 1946. Under President Wilson’s administration the buildings of the original campus were completely renovated and a classroom building was constructed which is now designated as Wilson Hall. Basic policies were established by which the College was to play a significant role as an independent institution and was widely accepted by educational leaders and those who were interested in establishing the College. During President Wilson’s administration, attention was focused upon the contribution the College could make to the kind of education the founders envisioned in which the Bible is integrated into the entire curriculum.

Our Presidents

When President Wilson resigned early in 1949, the Board of Directors chose James R. Cope, then a teacher at Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee, to succeed him. The primary thrust of President Cope’s early years was the full accreditation of the College, which became a reality on December 2, 1954, when accreditation was granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Accreditation was reaffirmed December 1966, December 1976, December 1987, July 1997, and June 2007.

President Cope served for thirty-three years until his retirement in June 1982. The Board of Directors chose Bob F. Owen, the former Dean of Students and Business Manager of Florida College, to succeed him. President Owen became the third president of Florida College on July 1, 1982, and served until June 1991.

Charles G. Caldwell III was chosen by the Board of Directors to serve as the College’s fourth president effective July 1, 1991.

H. E. Payne, Jr. was chosen by the Board of Directors to serve as the College’s fifth president effective May 22, 2009.

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