north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      Chowan College, now Chowan University, a four-year institution affiliated with the Baptist State Convention, traces its origins to the May 1848 meeting of the Chowan Baptist Association, where a group of Baptist deacons recommended that a regional school for girls be created. On October 11, 1848, Chowan Female Institute opened in Murfreesboro with an initial class of eleven students. Renamed Chowan Female Collegiate Institute in 1850, the school featured a curriculum that included math, the sciences, history, and the language and fine arts. Tuition in 1850 was $113 for five months, a substantial cost at the time.

      In 1910 the school was renamed Chowan College, and began granting four year bachelor degrees. Fifteen years later, Chowan College was granted state accreditation, and in 1927 received a $25,000 gift from tobacco magnet Benjamin N. Duke. Four years later, after a failed attempt to merge with Meredith College in Raleigh, Chowan College began enrolling men. Although the college had remained open with an all female student body during the Civil War, the absence of male students during World War II forced the college’s closing from 1943 to 1948. In 1949 the school reopened as a two-year institution, providing education on a junior college level.

      During the 1980s, debates were held over whether to return the school to a four-year program. In 1992, the college again began offering bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees, awarding such diplomas in 1994. The name of the school officially changed from Chowan College to Chowan University on September 1, 2006. In the early 2000s the institution had nearly 800 students and over 80 faculty members.

William S. Powell, Higher Education in North Carolina (1964)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
Chowan University website:
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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