Located in the heart of Daytona Beach, Florida, Bethune-Cookman College is the result of the tireless efforts of educator, equal rights activist, and political lobbyist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. Beginning in 1904, Dr. Bethune opened the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls.
The school, which also was the site of the community’s only hospital for Blacks, later merged with Jacksonville’s Cookman Institute to become Bethune-Cookman College in the mid-1920s.
As founder of the National Council of Negro Women and president of the National Association of Colored Women, Dr. Bethune played a major role in the national desegregation movement. She became the highest-ranking appointee to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Negro Cabinet. But most agree that her greatest legacy is co-founding Bethune-Cookman College.
McLeod Hospital, now General Studies Building, was named for Dr. Bethune’s parents and served as a training school for nurses as the only hospital for Daytona’s Black citizens. Cookman Hall, the first men’s dormitory, is named for Rev. Alfred Cookman whose monetary gift several years earlier helped to establish the Cookman Institute (Jacksonville, Florida).
Mary McLeod Bethune Home, “The Retreat,” where she lived and is laid to rest, is also a National Historic Landmark as well as a United Methodist Historic Site, among others.
The school’s name changed and upgraded from Bethune-Cookman College to Bethune-Cookman University in 2007.
Bethune-Cookman University offers these academic disciplines:
• Business Administration
• Communication Studies
• Computer Engineering
• Computer Information Systems
• Computer Science
• Criminal Justice
• Elementary Education
• Hospitality Management
• Information Systems Management
• Integrated Environmental Science
• International Studies
• Mass Communications
• Music Education
• Physical Education
• Political Science
• Social Science
Nestled on 60 acres, the campus boasts 33 buildings of which eight have been designated or nominated for listing as National Historic Landmarks. The school’s mission is guided by both Christian and intellectual principles, although a close association is maintained with the United Methodist Church.
The eight historic buildings encompass White Hall, named after the founder of the White Sewing Machine Company who was a prominent benefactor of the college and friend of Dr. Bethune.
The primarily African American student body, numbering over 2,500, is enrolled in a superior liberal arts curriculum that combines internships with opportunities to study abroad, religious fellowship activities, and offerings to support the growth of the Daytona Beach area. And, many of its alumni are employed in the fields of education, medicine, business, politics, government, science, religion, athletics, and environmental sciences.
With four male and five female residence halls, female students constitute nearly 60% of the total enrollment while males comprise 43%. Florida students make up 75% of the total enrollment, 20% come from out-of-state, and 5% represent the Caribbean Islands and more than nine foreign countries. Most students attribute the college’s family atmosphere to their relationships with their professors.
There is a wealth of activities to enjoy within an easy distance of the campus. Its ideal location provides easy access to business centers, churches, theaters, museums, recreational facilities, and beaches which are enhanced by warm weather year-round.
A little further away you’ll find several major attractions including the Kennedy Space Center, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Epcot Center, historic St. Augustine, and more sites in Florida.