About Columbia College

Columbia College, founded in 1854, is a private, liberal arts college offering undergraduate and graduate programs on campus and online. The College is ranked among those highlighted by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Regional University in the South, Best Regional University for Veterans, Best Value School in the South, Top Performer on Social Mobility in the South, Best Regional University for Ethnic Diversity, and Best Regional University for Economic Diversity. Founded and rooted in the United Methodist Church, Columbia College advocates a holistic approach to education, emphasizing the importance of leadership, service, and social justice. The College enhances the personal education of every student with an additional focus on the “Four Cs”- Courage, Commitment, Confidence, and Competence. 

Enrollment is over 1,500 students throughout the institution, representing a diverse student body. Degrees conferred include those at both baccalaureate and master’s levels in more than 40 different programs. A dedicated faculty and staff provide our students with the skills to be successful, noting a more than a 97% rate of placement in jobs and graduate schools within six months of graduation. The College’s programs continue to receive high accolades for innovation, student focus, and delivery. The student experience is enhanced through an intercollegiate athletic program, participating in the Appalachian Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The College has repeatedly earned the top national award for the NAIA Champions of Character competition.

What is an Investiture?

The investiture ceremony is a traditional academic event held during a college president’s first year. The event provides an opportunity for the College and its community to come together in celebration of the pursuit of knowledge and scholarship, the institution's future, and the spirit that bonds us all.

john dozier talking with students

List of Past Presidents

  • Whitefoord D. Smith, 1859–1860
  • William Martin, 1860–1861
  • Henry M. Mood, 1861–1865
  • Samuel B. Jones, 1873–1876
  • J. L. Jones, 1876–1881
  • Osgood A. Darby, 1881–1890
  • Samuel B. Jones, 1890–1894
  • John A. Rice, 1894–1900
  • William W. Daniel, 1900–1916
  • Griffith T. Pugh, 1916–1920
  • J. Caldwell Guilds, 1920–1948
  • Walter K. Greene, 1948–1951
  • R. Wright Spears, 1951–1977
  • Ralph T. Mirse, 1977–1988
  • Peter T. Mitchell, 1988–1997
  • Phyllis O. Bonanno, 1997–2000
  • James H. Rex, 2000–2001
  • Caroline B. Whitson, 2001–2012
  • Elizabeth A. Dinndorf, 2012–2017
  • Carol A. Moore, 2017-2020
  • William T. Bogart, 2020-2023
  • John H. Dozier, 2023-

The mace carried today at the head of the processional is a historical symbol of authority and a common feature of academic occasions. Maces are typically made of wood or metal and are customized to incorporate symbols reflecting the institution's values or history. The design of Columbia College’s mace began in the mid-1980s. It was presented to Columbia College on May 4, 1993, in honor of the former president, Ralph Thomas Mirse. Our mace incorporates wood and two metals to give the mace substance and heft. Symbols on Columbia College’s mace include the college seal and logo and the logo of the United Methodist Church.

The use of academic regalia can be traced to Medieval European universities, where it was worn to distinguish scholars from the rest of the population. The apparel had an ornamental as well as a utilitarian function. The regalia signified the degree or degrees a person owned, where the highest degree was earned, and what discipline the person had studied. The bachelor’s gown is designed to be worn closed and has pointed sleeves. The master’s gown may be worn open or closed and has a hood and oblong sleeves. The doctor’s gown may be worn open or closed and has a hood and bell-shaped sleeves. The doctor’s gown is trimmed in black velvet with three bars on the sleeves. The master’s hood is three and one-half feet long; the doctor’s is four feet long. The trim of the hood is in the color of the subject in which the degree was earned. The square-topped cap is called a mortarboard. The tassel is fastened in the center of the cap and is worn to the left. It may be black or the color of the subject. If it represents a doctoral degree, it is usually gold.