St. Augustine’s College

Written By Jonathan Martin

Established during Reconstruction in 1867, Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute was the result of a joint religious effort. A group of pastors from the Diocese of North Carolina along with the Freedmen’s Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church sought to establish a school for preparing black teachers. The school started operation in 1868 largely due to the support of the Freedmen’s Bureau who furnished the school’s faculty.

In the early 1900s, the Episcopal Church started to financially support Saint Augustine’s, and in 1919 the school obtained junior college status. Less than a decade later, Saint Augustine’s Junior College developed into a four-year college in 1928; with the newly named Saint Augustine’s College first graduating class obtaining degrees in 1932. Another note of this growing period, Harold L. Trigg became the institution’s first black president in 1947.

Throughout its campus, Saint Augustine’s varied structures and buildings are a testament to all types of architecture. Built in 1895, Saint Augustine’s Chapel is reminiscent of Gothic architecture, whereas the Benson Library (1896) was built with a Romanesque approach. In addition to this variety, the Cheshire, Delany, and Hunter buildings, all built in the early 1900s, evoke the Classical Revival style. The college’s chapel along with St. Agnes Hospital are both noted for being Historic Landmarks in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Saint Augustine’s College remains affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Enrollment hovers around 1,500 students, with almost 100 faculty members and teachers. The institution offers degrees in business, education, math, natural science, military science, as well as other programs. St. Augustine’s College was the first African American college to host commercial radio and television stations.  It remains the only school in the North Carolina Triangle area to “offer a degree in film production” (About Us – History).

With an alumni body growing over the 10,000 mark, Saint Augustine’s College prides itself in its moral, Episcopalian background and academic programs that prepare students for graduate programs and careers. The Honorable Ralph Campbell, Jr., a 1968 graduate, was the first African American to be elected State Auditor in North Carolina. Other notable alumni include Ruby DeMesme who was an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force and Hannah Atkins who became the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives in the state of Oklahoma.