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Remembering our past, shaping our future

Enjoy a walk down Wofford's long and winding memory lane

1854-Aug1 

August 1, 1854

The college opened for its first session with an enrollment of seven students. A future Methodist bishop, William Wightman, was the first president. 

1859 

1859

“We, the adopted, honor the mother (alma mater) who nourishes us.” A national alumni association was organized shortly after Samuel Dibble became the first graduate in 1856. For decades, it met annually at Commencement. The highlight of the program was a lengthy oration by a distinguished graduate. 

1864-May 

May 1864

Trustees invested virtually all of the college’s endowment in Confederate currency, bonds and other soon-to-be-worthless securities. 

1869 

1869

The first Greek-letter social fraternities, including a still-active chapter of Kappa Alpha, were founded on the campus just after the Civil War.

1875 

1875

James H. Carlisle became president, serving through 1902. When a Wofford student talked about “The Doctor,” there was no doubt about the reference. Sometimes called the “greatest South Carolinian of his day,” Carlisle was known throughout the region as an inspirational teacher of ethics and morals. “Scholarship and character are too close together for young people to build up the one and at the same time tear down the other,” he wrote. 

1889-Jan 

January 1889

The first issue of the Wofford College Journal appeared. It remains one of the oldest continuously published college literary magazines in the South. Some of its most beautiful covers were the work of Bill Gladden ’39, who was killed while serving as an infantry company commander in World War II (Oct. 9, 1944). 

1889-Dec14 

December 14, 1889

Wofford and Furman played South Carolina’s first ever intercollegiate football game, and thus began South Carolina’s oldest football rivalry. A run-down of the game from the January 1890 issue of the Wofford College Journal reported: “The game lasted one hour and a half, with two fifteen minute rests, and was won with ease by Wofford, the score being five to one.”

1909 

1909

A neighborhood pit-bull terrier mix named Jack adopted the 1909 baseball team. A cartoon showing a Jack-like dog doing gymnastics soon appeared in the Wofford Journal, and legend has it that Jack once raced out of the stands and drove off an opposing runner who was seeking to tie the score. By 1914, when football returned to the campus after an 11-year absence, the nickname “Terriers” and the colors “Old Gold and Black” were firmly and permanently established for all the college’s athletics teams.

1915-16 

1915-1916

Wofford became part of a nationwide trend to modernize student life with innovations such as a student governmental body (since 1970, referred to as the Campus Union Assembly); the Old Gold and Black student newspaper and the Senior Order of Gnomes. As the name implies, Gnomes were assigned the role of guardians of the college’s subterranean treasure—its integrity, its reputation and its customs. This badge was worn or carried by each of its three to five members.

1919 

1919

In the aftermath of World War I, Wofford became one of the first church-related colleges in the U.S. to qualify for a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) unit. To date, more than 2,000 Wofford graduates have received commissions in the Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard.

1920 

1920

Yes, they are really buried here. When the Rev. Benjamin Wofford died on Dec. 2, 1850, he was laid to rest beside his late first wife, Anna Todd Wofford, at a remote family cemetery on the Tyger River in Spartanburg County. As the countryside changed, it was suggested that the bodies be moved to an appropriate resting place on the college campus. Today, 70 yards south of the front portico of a magnificent building that neither lived to see constructed, their remains lie side by side under a monument bearing the words, translated, “If you seek his monument, look around.”

1928-Feb 

February 1928

21 Wofford students, under the direction of Professor James A. “Graveyard” Chiles, formed a club they called the Deutscher Verein. Seeing the need for an honor society devoted to the study of German language and literature, the Wofford group went on to form Delta Phi Alpha. This fraternity has grown to more than 30,000 living members, and Wofford’s alpha chapter is still proudly active. 

1933-June 

June 1933

Faculty and staff finished a Depression year during which they worked without pay for seven months. Wofford accumulated an operating deficit approaching $187,000, and almost one-third of the $700,000 endowment was “non-productive.” Emergency measures were necessary, but within four years, Wofford was relatively comfortable and again operating in the black. By 1942 and the coming of World War II, the college was debt-free.

1941 

1941

Wofford earned a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the prestigious liberal arts honor society. Our Beta chapter of South Carolina is one of only 283 chapters of this elite fraternity.

1954 

1954

Uncovering the Cornerstone — The laying of Main Building’s cornerstone occurred on July 4, 1851, and featured an address (pictured) by William Wightman. The cornerstone was placed on the building’s northeastern corner, but it was lost after the construction crew finished its work. More than a century later, a student rummaging through old records in the library found an exact description of its whereabouts. The cornerstone was unearthed and opened, but decay through the years had destroyed the contents.

1964-May12 

May 12, 1964

Wofford trustees issued a formal statement that prospective students would be judged according to standards applied “regardless of race or creed.” When Albert W. Gray ’71 of Spartanburg enrolled in the fall, Wofford became one of the first historically white independent colleges in the region to admit African-Americans voluntarily.

1968-Jan 

January 1968

Wofford adopted the 4-1-4 academic calendar, allowing students to spend January working with a faculty member on a special project. Many used this opportunity to do independent study or undertake travel-study tours with faculty. Noteworthy offerings that first Interim semester: Lewis P. Jones’ South Carolina: A Seminar in Orbit and Dr. J.R. Gross’s Wofford Theatre Workshop. A year later, a group of students got a first-hand look at the aftermath of a Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (above). 

1973 

1973

The golf team, coached by Earle Buice, played host to the NAIA national championship tournament and claimed the first-place trophy. This achievement is believed to represent the first national championship won by a South Carolina college or university in any sport. 

1975-Oct 

October 1975

After a thorough study, the Board of Trustees approved the faculty’s recommendation to institute residential coeducation at Wofford. By the fall of 1978, the first-year class was composed of 221 men and 79 women. 

1980-June 

June 1980

Wofford student counselors of the Summer Program for Academically Talented Students developed an elaborate legend around two mysterious, greenish lights that appeared almost every night high on the walls of Leonard Auditorium. Though an alien monster was never actually observed and the reflections disappeared after the major renovation of Old Main, this story continues to be shared at unexpected times and places. 

1990-Sept9 

September 9, 1990

“Send Out Thy Light and Thy Truth: Let them lead me (Psalm 43).” A campus landmark since its dedication, “Light” is a bronze sculpture by Charles Parks that stands in front of the Sandor Teszler Library. Mr. and Mrs. William Light Kinney Jr. ’54 commissioned this sculpture in memory of their son, William Light Kinney III, who died in an automobile accident in July 1989 while he was attending Wofford. One of the traditions associated with the sculpture is that passersby who take a moment to look can sometimes find a monetary gift in the statue’s hand.

1993-Oct 

October 1993

Jerry Richardson ’59 became the owner and founder of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. To attract the team’s summer training camp to Spartanburg, the people of the city and various agencies contributed the money needed to build the Richardson Physical Activities Building and Gibbs Stadium on newly acquired land north and east of the campus. The Panthers made their first visit to the college in July 1995 and now have trained at Wofford for two decades. 

1996-Oct15 

October 15, 1996

One of the most popular television comedies of the 1990s was “Home Improvement,” starring Tim Allen as the host of a fictional television show, “Tool Time.” He boasts a fantastic collection of sweatshirts from various colleges and universities, usually located in the upper Midwest. But Susan Harris Worley ’96 and Mary Beth Knight ’96 (now Dr. Mary Beth Knight, Wofford’s director of foundation and corporate relations) mused “Why not Wofford?” They sent Allen a college shirt with their plea to wear it on the air. Sure enough, for one night, Oct. 15, 1996, Tim Allen was a Wofford Terrier. 

2002-Nov 

November 2002

The entire 180-acre Wofford campus was designated the Roger Milliken Arboretum in ceremonies featuring horticulturalist Michael Dirr and landscape architect Rick Webel. The college is a member of the American Association of Botanical Arboreta. Nearly 4,500 trees were planted between 1992 and 2002, representing 97 native varieties. The arboretum is also home to a wide variety of birds and squirrels that happily share the space with faculty, staff and students. 

2003 

2003

The Terrier football team swept through its Southern Conference season undefeated and advanced to the NCAA Division I semifinals. Mike Ayers was the 2003 winner of The Sports Network’s Eddie Robinson Award, presented to Division I-AA’s National Coach of the Year. This was the first of a long series of football postseason playoff appearances. 

2006 

2006

Construction began on The Wofford Village, an award-winning “new urban” community for student residential living that reflected the vision of Trustee Mike Brown ’76. The project was completed in the fall of 2011 with the opening of the Michael S. Brown Village Center. 

2010 

2010

The Goodall Environmental Studies Center, located on Lawson’s Fork Creek in Spartanburg County, claimed a series of awards for historic preservation architecture and was the first academic building in South Carolina to qualify for LEED Platinum status. 

2013 

2013

Rachel Woodlee ’13 became Wofford’s sixth Rhodes Scholar. She is currently enrolled at Oxford University, working toward her master’s degree in contemporary Chinese studies.

2013-Ingram 

2013

Ben Ingram ’05 (left) thrilled the Terrier nation with eight consecutive wins on the popular “Jeopardy!” television program and earned a place on its top 10 list of prize winners. Ingram, a Phi Beta Kappa mathematics major, lead Wofford to the College Bowl National Tournament in Seattle, Wash., his senior year. He emerged as the third highest individual scorer and received the 2005 Pat Moonen Sportsperson Award.

2014-Mar 

March 2014

With a 56-53 win over Western Carolina in the SoCon Tournament, the men’s basketball team “danced” their way to the NCAA “March Madness” Tournament for the third time in five years (2010, 2011 and 2014).

By Doyle Boggs ’70