Thomas Bomar (left) and Charles Petty (right) served as Co-Principals of Limestone Springs Female High School. Bomar and Petty took over the administration of the school following William Curtis' retirement and return to his wife's family home in Georgia.
Charles Petty, a graduate of Wofford College, was born near Gaffney, SC. Petty moved to Spartanburg after leaving the Limestone Springs School in 1879. Petty later became editor of The Carolina Spartannewspaper and served in the South Carolina State Legislature as a representative from Union, SC.
Major Bomar was later influential in obtaining significant financial support from Peter Cooper, which was a major factor in sustaining the continued operation of the school.
Robert Oswald Sams, shown wearing his Citadel Military Academy Uniform, served as Co-Principal, along with Captain Harrison Patillo Griffith.
Sams was hired with a five-year contract during the summer of 1880 by the trustees of the Southern Baptist Association. Under the new leadership of Sams and Griffith, the school reopened in the fall under the name of The Cooper-Limestone Institute for Young Ladies.
Sams was an 1861 graduate of The Citadel, and later an assistant professor at The Arsenal Academy from April 1862 - May 1865. Relatives of Robert Sams still reside in Gaffney and the surrounding Cherokee County, SC, area.
Captain Harrison Patillo Griffith served with Robert O. Sams as Co-Principals from 1880-1886. Griffith remained at Limestone from 1886-1896 to serve as the college's President. During Griffith's tenure (1880-1896) at the school he served as Principal, Professor and President.
In 1881 Limestone Springs Female High School was renamed Cooper-Limestone Institute after a generous financial donation from Peter Cooper who dreamed of creating a Southern version of his famed Cooper Union established in Manhattan in 1859. Additional funding was provided by the Spartanburg Baptist Association, the South Carolina Baptist Association, and Spartanburg textile mogul Captain John H. Montgomery.
Professor John R. Mack from Aiken, SC, was unanimously chosen to serve as President of the Cooper-Limestone Institute by the Southern Baptist Association Board.
During Mack's three year tenure, the school calendar was revised to correlate with a more traditional school year, resulting in no commencement program for 1896. Total enrollment for the academic year 1897-1898 totalled 100 female students. It was also during the 1896-1897 academic session that the face of the college campus was changed by altering the back of the Limestone Springs Hotel Building to become the front entrance, which now faces College Drive. Curtis Hall was constructed as the Limestone University Administration Building. It was added to the Limestone Springs Hotel Building in 1899 and named after the founder of the college, Thomas Curtis.
The Cooper-Limestone Institute's name was changed in 1898 and the school was renamed Limestone University.
Prior to coming to Limestone, Lee Davis Lodge was the Chair of Political Philosophy and International Law at Columbian University (now George Washington University) in Washington, DC.
During his tenure the Winnie Davis School of History was established and the Winnie Davis School of History building constructed. Dixie Lodge, named in honor of President Lodge, was built in 1911-12 and housed the dining room, art room, and dormitories. It was also during the years of Dr. Lodge's presidency that steam heat was added to the buildings.
In 1921 Dr. Lodge was honored by the construction of a plot containing stones from the Limestone Quarry and a seven branch candelabra fountain to represent the seven branches of learning, which was part of the college seal. Originally the fountain's pool was stocked with goldfish.
Robert C. Granberry expanded the college on many fronts. During his tenure 8 buildings were constructed which make up the present day main campus: Hamrick Hall of Science, Carroll Fine Arts building, Granberry Gymnasium, Montgomery Hall, Eunice Ford dormitory, Ebert dormitory, Griffith apartments, and a new President's home (now McMillan Hall). In addition to the new construction, a two story pedimented portico and Doric columns were added to Curtis Hall in 1939.
Under Granberry's leadership Limestone University received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1928. This accreditation allowed graduates to teach in accredited schools, and to attend universities in order to further their education without additional examinations.
Robert Granberry holds the distinction as Limestone's longest serving president.
O. Norman Shands began his Presidency on New Year's Day, 1952. A Georgia native, Shands was a graduate of Mercer University, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to arriving at Limestone he served on the Board of Trustees for both the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and North Greenville Junior College.
While serving as President, Shands primary focus was on Christian Education courses at Limestone. As the year progressed, Shands felt that his calling was geared more toward ministry than Christian Education. He resigned from the Presidency on March 31, 1953 to become Pastor of West End Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1932, Andrew Jackson Eastwood joined the faculty of Limestone University as professor of History. In 1953, Dr. Eastwood was named President of Limestone. A native of Virginia, Eastwood graduated from The University of Richmond, and The University of Virginia, obtaining his Ph.D. in Economics in 1932.
Eastwood placed high emphasis on increasing growth of the college enrollment and the campus facilities. He became active in the community, serving in the Rotary, Selective Service System Board, the Gaffney Crustbreaker's Club and as a Deacon at First Baptist Church of Gaffney.
Under Eastwood's leadership Fullerton Auditorium and a new library were built, and a wing was added to the Hamrick Hall of Science. Dr. Eastwood's years of service to the College was recognized by naming the library in his honor.
During J.C. McCollister's term as Limestone University President, improvements in curriculum, instruction, and fundraising were evident. Limestone was reaffirmed for accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. A core liberal arts program was implemented, along with a new dramatics curriculum. The Summer School enrollment also thrived under McCollister's oversight, tripling in just three years.
McCollister's resignation was fueled by his desire to return to classroom instruction.
Before coming to Limestone University, M. Stanyarne Bell was employed as Vice President at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Bell was a graduate of Erskine College and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in 1956. He served three years in the U.S. Army, later establishing a pharmaceutical company, Cambridge Pharmaceutical, Inc., before coming to Limestone University. Bell was a native of Greenwood, SC.
A native of Corbin, Kentucky, Dr. Early received degrees from Union College, University of Kentucky, and Lexington Theological Seminary. He was an ordained Methodist minister. He served as president of Dakota Wesleyan University and Pfeiffer College before coming to Limestone.
Dr. Early was also elected to the Kentucky State Legislature in 1952, where he served as assistant minority leader of The House.
During his term as President, there was a significant increase in student enrollment, and three buildings were constructed; the Camp-Swofford Chapel, the George L. Stephenson Center, and the Timken Physical Education Building.
Dr. William J. Briggs, Sr., became President of Limestone University on July 1, 1979. Dr. Briggs came to Limestone after serving as Coordinator of Development at Gardner-Webb College in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.
Dr. Briggs was active in the community and with several national organizations. He authored Eight Keys to a Better Me, aimed at developing the character of elementary age students and co-authored The Cotton Man: Notes on the Life and Times of Wofford B. ("Bill") Camp. He was also instrumental in the development of the Limestone University Evening Block Program to help working adults earn their college degree. Other accomplishments during his tenure at Limestone include the establishment of an Honors Program for gifted students, implementing a Computer Science Program, and an expansion to the Timken Physical Education Building in partnership with the YMCA.
G. Fredrick Payne came to Limestone from North Greenville College where he was Chief Development Officer. Payne faced challenges on several fronts at Limestone, including declining enrollment and financial strain on college resources.
After five years of leadership, some improvements were seen. Most notably, the off-campus program enrollment increased from 241 to 600 students and Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher Gaylord Perry was brought in to start the Limestone Saints Baseball program.
Walt Griffin was selected to serve as President of Limestone University in 1992. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati. Before coming to Limestone, Griffin was professor of American History at Upper Iowa University, a member of the faculties of Xavier University and Mount St. Mary's College, and Director of the Cincinnati Center for the College of Undergraduate Studies of the Union Institute.
Limestone University has embraced Walt Griffin's innovative approaches to learning. Under his leadership the college has more than tripled its enrollment, expanded and improved campus infrastructure, and operated with a balanced budget.
Dr. Griffin greatly expanded Limestone's athletics programs throughout his tenure. The Walt Griffin Physical Education Center is named in his honor.
Darrell Parker, a native of North Carolina, completed his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina Asheville and earned his Ph.D. in economics from Perdue University. Dr. Parker's prodigious academic career includes many publications and academic appointments prior to his work at Limestone. As a professor of economics at Winthrop University, Dr. Parker founded the Winthrop Economic Development Center and served as its director from 1990 until 2001. From Winthrop, he moved to Georgia Southern University, serving in various posts from 2001 until 2006, including Professor of Economics, Director of the Center for Economic Education, Acting Associate Dean, and Director of the School of Economic Development in the College of Business Administration.
Dr. Parker served as the Dean and Professor of Economics at the George Dean Johnson College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina until 2012. After Upstate, Dr. Parker was appointed as the Dean and Professor of Economics for the College of Business at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. He returned to the Upstate of South Carolina to serve as Limestone University's 22nd president after the board of trustees selected him to succeed Walt Griffin in December of 2017.