Barber-Scotia College

Barber–Scotia College is a historically black college located in Concord, North Carolina, United States.

Scotia Seminary

Barber-Scotia began as a female seminary in 1867. Scotia Seminary was founded by the Reverend Luke Dorland and chartered in 1870. This was a project by the Presbyterian Church to prepare young African American southern women (the daughters of former slaves) for careers as social workers and teachers. It was the coordinate women's school for Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University).

It was the first historically black female institution of higher education established after the American Civil War. The Charlotte Observer, in an interview with Janet Magaldi, president of Piedmont Preservation Foundation, stated, "Scotia Seminary was one of the first black institutions built after the Civil War. For the first time, it gave black women an alternative to becoming domestic servants or field hands."

Scotia Seminary was modeled after Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College) and was referred to as The Mount Holyoke of the South. The seminary offered grammar, science, and domestic arts. In 1908 it had 19 teachers and 291 students. From its founding in 1867 to 1908 it had enrolled 2,900 students, with 604 having graduated from the grammar department and 109 from the normal department. Faith Hall, built in 1891, was the first dormitory at Scotia Seminary. It is listed in National Register of Historic Places and "is one of only four 19th-century institutional buildings left in Cabarrus County." It was closed by the college during the 1970s due to lack of funds for its maintenance.


It was renamed to Scotia Women's College in 1916. In 1930, the seminary was merged with another female institution, Barber Memorial College, which was founded in 1896 in Anniston, Alabama by Margaret M. Barber as a memorial to her husband. This merger created Barber-Scotia Junior College for women.

The school granted its first bachelor's degree in 1945, and became a four-year women's college in 1946. In 1954, Barber–Scotia College became a coeducational institution and received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Today, the college maintains close ties to the Presbyterian Church.


On June 24, 2004, one week after appointing its new president, Dr. Gloria Bromell Tinubu, the college learned that it had lost its accreditation which meant that students became ineligible for federal aid (an estimated 90% of the school's students depended on federally funded aid) and that many employees would be laid off. It lost its accreditation due to what the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools said was a failure to comply with SACS Principles and Philosophy of Accreditation (Integrity), as the school "awarded degrees to nearly 30 students in the adult program who SACS determined hadn’t fulfilled the proper requirements".

Former President Sammie Potts resigned in February when it became public. As over 90% of the students at Barber-Scotia received some sort of federal financial aid, when the campus lost accreditation and was therefore no longer eligible to receive federal financial aid for its students, under the Department of Education enrollment then dropped from 600 students in 2004 to 91 students in 2005 and on-campus housing was closed down.

During her tenure President Gloria Bromell-Tinubu led a strategic planning effort to change the college from a four-year liberal arts program to a college of entrepreneurship and business, and established partnerships with accredited colleges and top-tiered universities. She would later leave the college when the new Board leadership decided to pursue religious studies instead. Former President and alumna Mable Parker McLean was hired as president on an interim basis. In February 2006 a committee of the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to continue the denomination's financial support for Barber-Scotia, noting that its physical facilities were "substantial and well-secured" and that the school was undertaking serious planning for the future. In May 2006, it was reported that Barber-Scotia would rent space on its campus to St. Augustine's College to use for an adult-education program: "Under the terms of the deal, St. Augustine's will pay Barber-Scotia for the space for its Gateway degree program starting this fall."

McLean was replaced by President Carl M. Flamer (an alumnus of the college) who accepted the position without payment and the college re-opened with a limited number of students. During this time, the "previous attempts to revive the college have centered on an entrepreneurial or business curriculum" were formally abandoned "in favor of focusing more on religious studies." Flamer also worked to eliminate debt and worked with alumni and the community to save the college.


Barber-Scotia currently has an enrollment of 20 full time students. It has submitted its application for accreditation and after a successful accreditation site visit during April 2009 has begun its Institutional Self-Study process. Documentation will be submitted to the national accrediting body for review. During January 2010 a site visit team will arrive on campus for review of documentation, staff and policies. It is the College's hope that it will be presented to the full commission for candidacy (provisional accreditaion) during April 2012.

The college currently offers the following three degree programs: Bachelors of Arts in Business, Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies and a Bachelors of Science in Bio-Energy. Each academic discipline has several fields of concentrations.


Barber–Scotia College currently fields a men's basketball team. Barber-Scotia will field a women's basketball team in 2011. It is also exploring adding additional athletic programs, such as men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer and track and field.

Notable alumni

One of Scotia Seminary's most notable alumnae was Mary McLeod Bethune, advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt., who also started a school for black students in Daytona Beach, Florida that eventually became Bethune-Cookman University.

Also Dr. Katie G. Cannon, the first African-American female ordained as minister by the Presbyterian Church is a graduate of the college.

Notable faculty

The New York Times noted that the mother of novelist Chester Himes "taught at the elite Scotia Seminary in North Carolina before her marriage."

Additional reading
  • Cozart, Leland Stanford. A Venture of Faith: Barber–Scotia College, 1867-1967. Charlotte, NC: Heritage Printers, 1976.
  • Gross, Leslie. "Faith Hall: A Landmark in Need of Friends." The Charlotte Observer. May 9, 1999: 3K.
  • Barber–Scotia College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1985.
  • African American Registry. "History of Scotia Seminary"
  • Scotia Seminary 1881-82 Catalogue
  • Scotia Seminary: North Carolina and Its Resources (1896)
  • State Library of North Carolina. "Scotia Seminary, Concord N.C. (1908)"
  • Data for Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 1976-1994 - Government publication which includes enrollment statistics for Barber–Scotia College

Building Activity

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