CSU Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Columbus State University is celebrating its 60th anniversary this fall by celebrating its history of partnerships and preparing for another era of success by developing nationally prominent programs that are aligned with local needs.

Homecoming, fundraising, the university magazine, and many alumni events have drawn from the institution's history this semester.

The celebration of Columbus State's 60th anniversary coincides with the culmination of its First Choice Comprehensive Campaign. Began in 2012, this campaign has endeavored to raise the funds needed to continue attracting and retaining exceptional students and faculty; to continue constructing state-of-the-art facilities; to procure the means to enhance academic and athletics programs; and, most importantly, to create a culture of pride, where every citizen of Columbus is a proud ambassador of Columbus State University.

That campaign goes public this month as the university appeals to alumni and community members to each contribute $60 to the university to celebrate CSU's 60th anniversary.

Monday, September 22, 1958, the first registration began at the college that would become Columbus State University. Two hundred students arrived on campus, which was temporarily located at the recently-shuttered Shannon Hosiery Mill, and were greeted by 14 faculty members, five administrative staff members, and then-President Thomas Y. Whitley. Students paid $39 to enroll ($30 matriculation fee, a $3 student welfare fee, and a $6 student activity fee). They attended seven classes a day, five days a week, from 8:30 in the morning until 3:55 in the afternoon. They studied business, education, fine arts, home economics, language, physical education, science and mathematics, and social sciences. They formed clubs and held dances, they published newspapers and played organized sports. They began traditions still practiced today. Campus life and college spirit had arrived in Columbus for the very first time. It thrived at the mill, but flourished even more so when construction was completed on the old Miller Dairy farm and operations moved to the site of the current campus in 1963. Dr. Frank Brown joined the Columbus State University staff in 1981, first as the vice president for business and finance and later serving as president from 1988 to 2008. He recalls how much the university has changed since those early days. "By day, the campus was abuzz with students and cars, and since there was almost no student housing, the entrance and exit roads were jammed at class change time," Dr. Brown recounted. "The evening program was large, filled with part-time students who often held down a full time job in the city, and with teachers who were working on graduate degrees. The college was already noted for its academic rigor and it was famous for receiving students who had initially left Columbus for college and who, for one reason or another, returned to the friendly confines of the hometown school, expecting to breeze through courses they often found difficult in other places, only to find that they were seriously tested by the Columbus College faculty! Very often, those students liked what they found in the classroom and in the student activities available on campus."

Today, 60 years later, that fledgling college that sprung from the field of a dairy farm has been transformed into a world-class university, a first-choice institution of higher learning that is providing transformative learning while serving as an engine of economic development in the community, the southeast region, and beyond.

President Chris Markwood says he hopes that transformation will not slow.

"I think as we continue to look to the future, much of what Columbus State University will do and what we will become is in many ways related to how we have gotten where we are now: by not only responding and reacting to the needs that existing industry has in this community; but also by working with city leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, investors and entrepreneurs, to be proactive in helping to create a workforce for industries we want to attract to Columbus. It's a very exciting opportunity for us."

For more information on how to participate in the "$60 for 60 Challenge" phase of the First Choice Comprehensive Campaign, visit giving.ColumbusState.edu/60460 or speak to a Foundation Representative at 706.507.8945. To show your support via mail, please send gifts to 4425 University Avenue, Columbus, GA 31907. Please make all checks payable to the CSU Foundation.