Limestone University is an accredited, independent, coeducational four-year liberal arts institution chartered by the State of South Carolina and a non-denominational Christian college. The university offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of science, bachelor of social work, associate of arts, associate of science, and master of business administration degrees.
The mission of Limestone University is to educate students from diverse backgrounds in the liberal arts and selected professional disciplines. By providing degree programs throughout South Carolina and by way of online instruction, Limestone University offers opportunities for personal and professional growth to individuals who may find access to higher education difficult. In a nurturing, supportive environment based on Christian ideals and ethical principles, students are challenged to become critical thinkers and effective communicators who are prepared for responsible citizenship, successful careers, and graduate study.
The university faculty and staff, academic and co-curricular programs, financial resources, and support services are dedicated to an educational climate that upholds high academic standards and fosters respect for learning and beauty, creativity and hard work, tolerance and personal integrity, vigorous activity, and spiritual reflection.
Limestone has always been a pioneer in providing access to higher education for those who otherwise might not have enjoyed that access. In 1845, when higher education was only a dream for young women, Limestone was founded as the first women’s college in South Carolina and one of the first in the United States. In the early 1900s, when young men from the local area sought higher education, but could not afford to attend distant universities, Limestone admitted them as daytime commuting students.
In the 1970s, when most colleges and universities had no interest in educating working adults, Limestone established the Block Program, one of the pioneer programs for non-traditional students. The Block Program allowed students to complete their bachelor’s degrees entirely through evening classes, using a novel one-course-at-a-time accelerated format. In the mid-1990s, through the establishment of the Virtual Campus, Limestone emerged as a national leader in applying computer technology to teach students who could not utilize traditional classroom settings. In 2005, the Block Program and the Virtual Campus were combined into the Extended Campus Program and in 2018, it was renamed the Online & Evening Program. Providing higher education access to those needing it the most has been a proud theme throughout the history of Limestone College.
The institution that became Limestone College was founded by Dr. Thomas Curtis and his son, Dr. William Curtis, distinguished Baptist ministers and scholars who were born in England and immigrated to the United States in 1833. Dr. Thomas Curtis served churches in Maine, Georgia, and South Carolina, including the Wentworth Street Baptist Church in Charleston, while Dr. William Curtis was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Columbia.
In 1845, Dr. Thomas Curtis was able to fulfill his dream of establishing an institution of higher learning for young women by purchasing a magnificent building at Limestone Springs, which had been constructed in the 1830s as a resort hotel. The village of Limestone Springs, now a part of Gaffney, had developed adjacent to a mineral water springs, which attracted families from the Midlands and Lowcountry who wished to avail themselves of the supposed medicinal value of the spring water and avoid the oppressive summer heat of their home regions.
Originally named the Limestone Springs Female High School, the new institution attracted the daughters of the most influential families of South Carolina, who sought the finest liberal arts education available in the antebellum period. On November 6, 1845, a total of 67 young women began their classes at Limestone.
Limestone College has always been deeply involved with improving educational opportunities in Gaffney and Cherokee County. In the late 1890s, shortly after the creation of Cherokee as a separate county, Limestone administrators supported the efforts of local citizens to establish a public school system. When the new system opened its doors, every teacher was a Limestone graduate. More than a century later, Limestone provides a large percentage of teachers to Cherokee County and the upstate of South Carolina.
Limestone’s intercollegiate athletics program began during the 1972-1973 academic year with four sports – men’s basketball, men’s tennis, men’s golf, and women’s volleyball. Blue, gold, and white were selected as the school colors. The selected nickname for the athletic teams was “Saints,” and a Saint Bernard dog was chosen as the Limestone mascot. Facilities for intercollegiate athletics improved dramatically in 1976 with the opening of the Timken Physical Education Center, which contained a 1,500-seat basketball arena and an aquatic center. In 1984, the men’s golf team brought home Limestone’s first national title, winning the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Championship. Limestone added a men’s baseball program in 1987 and selected as its first coach former major league pitcher and future Hall of Fame member Gaylord Perry.
In 1991, Limestone secured membership in NCAA Division II, and in 1998 joined the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference (CVAC). In 2007, the name was changed to Conference Carolinas. The Saints have remained in the league that gave them their first championship opportunity at the NCAA level and currently have 18 of their 25 teams competing within the conference. In 2017, Limestone joined the South Atlantic Conference as an associate member in football while the field hockey and men’s wrestling programs began competing in the co-brand South Atlantic Conference Carolinas in 2018.
The men’s and women’s lacrosse teams have enjoyed particular success at the national level. The men’s team won NCAA Division II National Championships in 2000, 2002, 2014, 2015, and 2017. The women’s lacrosse team has advanced to the national tournament nine times in recent years. The 2011 and 2013 women’s squads also advanced to the national championship finals.
Field hockey, men’s volleyball, football, acrobatics and tumbling, and women’s wrestling have been added in recent years, bringing the total number of intercollegiate sports to 25. Limestone also offers competitive cheerleading and dance. The Saints played their inaugural football season in 2014. Today, more than 60 percent of Limestone’s day students participate in intercollegiate athletics.
Limestone is committed to the liberal arts and sciences and to educating men and women for leadership, service, and professional responsibility in the 21st century. While receiving a strong foundation in the liberal arts, Limestone students generally major in fields directly related to career preparation – business administration, education, computer science, social work, physical education, and criminal justice.
Limestone is privileged to have a distinguished and dedicated faculty. Nearly 80 percent of the day faculty possess the Ph.D. or other terminal degree in their academic disciplines. A small student-to-faculty ratio allows the university’s students to get individualized attention and more than 80 percent of the day campus classes at Limestone are taught by full-time faculty and staff.
Limestone’s first graduate degree program, leading to the master’s of business administration (MBA), was initiated in July of 2012. The MBA program is designed to prepare students for management positions in business and industry, government, and nonprofit institutions, and to provide further educational opportunities for those persons already employed. In fall of 2020, Limestone will offer the master’s of social work (MSA) and near future additional graduate degree programs include a master’s of athletic training (MAT) and a master’s of health informatics.
Recent additions to the undergraduate curriculum include early childhood education, health care administration, human resource management, and professional communication, providing an important array of programs that are important in today’s job market.
Several online programs at Limestone have been recognized recently as some of the best in the country, including social work, human resources, and psychology. The university’s online associate and bachelor degree programs were also recognized nationally in 2018.