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North Carolina Wesleyan College 

Our History

On May 14, 1956, the North Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church met in Goldsboro and approved a petition from the people of Rocky Mount to locate a college in their community. In early September, the first trustees established temporary headquarters in the Ricks Hotel. One of the first actions of the Board was to name the institution North Carolina Wesleyan College. The College was officially chartered by the State of North Carolina on October 25, 1956.

historic marker

Capital investments totaling approximately $2 million made possible the construction of the main buildings on the 200-acre site donated by the M.C. Braswell heirs of Rocky Mount, and four years later 92 students enrolled in the first class at North Carolina Wesleyan College. In 1964, 33 students received their degrees at the College’s first Commencement.

Since those early days, nearly 9,000 students have earned bachelor’s degrees in the arts and sciences. Alumni from Rocky Mount, neighboring communities, numerous states, and several foreign countries affirm Wesleyan’s value as an important resource for higher education in Eastern North Carolina.

The College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of North Carolina Wesleyan College.

The original Seal of the College from 1956

The College is a member of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church, the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the National Association of Colleges and Universities Business Officers, and the American Council on Education. Women graduates are eligible for membership in the American Association of University Women.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction grants North Carolina teaching certificates to graduates of North Carolina Wesleyan who have completed the prescribed certification program and who are recommended by the College. The teacher education program is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The Adult & Professional Studies programs offer learning opportunities for adult students who seek career advancement or personal enrichment. The program serves the Rocky Mount area and has additional campuses in Raleigh-Durham, Goldsboro, and Wilmington.

Community, Religion and Discourse 

Since its founding in 1956 by the United Methodist Church and Rocky Mount leaders, North Carolina Wesleyan College has been affiliated with The United Methodist Church. The Heritage District Superintendent represents the United Methodist Conference on our Board of Trustees, and the college has a close working relationship with the Bishop and the Conference’s Board of Institutions, on which the Wesleyan President sits as an ex-officio member. The college embraces its historical association with The United Methodist Church and the inaugural teaching of its founder, John Wesley. The college is unconditionally committed to the intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual development of its students. We strive to embody the values and principles of The United Methodist Church while welcoming persons with all religious beliefs to our campus.  We promote and support the following key principles of a Methodist affiliated college:

1. The Place of Religion in Higher Education: We respect and provide for the teaching of religion within the curriculum. Faculty, staff and students have opportunities to explore the place of religious beliefs and practices within all academic disciplines and co-curricular activities. Our general education program requires that students take at least one course in religious studies. In addition, Wesleyan has a popular major and minor in Religious Studies.

Our campus is served by a full-time chaplain who is an ordained Methodist Minister and is a visible and popular presence on our campus. The college supports a wide range of religious life experiences for students under the guidance of the chaplain.  Some of the more active groups on campus include our Refuge group, a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Baptist Church’s weekly BRIDGE meetings. A number of scholarships are available for Methodist students, sons and daughters of clergy, and students of any religion who aspire to the clergy.

2. Social Justice: We affirm the basic rights of all persons to equal access to education and to spiritual growth within the college.  We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or economic status, and  offer a climate of openness, acceptance, and support to enable all persons to participate fully in the life of the college. We seek to create a community of scholarship and learning that facilitates social and academic participation as an inclusive right for all.

3. Academic Freedom: We believe that academic freedom is protected for all members of the campus community and that the college should foster a campus environment that allows for the free and reasoned exchange of ideas, while guarding the expression of religious belief on campus.  We recognize that excellence in higher education requires an environment that fosters an openness to discourse among faculty, students, and staff. 

North Carolina Wesleyan College is open to all persons regardless of their religious beliefs. The college welcomes religious diversity as an opportunity for the broadening of minds and the enrichment of campus discourse. We provide opportunities for personal and private expressions of faith and the meaningful exchange of ideas for all members of the campus community.