A Heritage of Excellence in Christian Higher Education

On September 18, 1950, the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association opened the doors of California Baptist College in El Monte. The college began operations with 42 students in Fall 1950; 120 were enrolled during the 1950–51 academic year. In 1955, after four years of continued growth, the college relocated to larger facilities in Riverside.

Today, the Spanish-style buildings, which include classrooms, campus housing, a library, offices, maintenance and athletic facilities, are located on the 160-acre campus. In the midst of dynamic growth, California Baptist University continues the tradition of liberal arts education in a Christian environment.

To read about CBU's athletics history, please refer to our Lancers Athletics Legacy page.

Historical Events and Milestones

1921 - Building that currently houses the Annie Gabriel Library is constructed

1927 - Administration Building is constructed

1934 - W. E. James Building is constructed

Juanice Brister, circa 1954

1950 - P. Boyd Smith is named first president

1950 - On September 18, classes begin for 42 students at First Southern Baptist Church in El Monte, CA

1951 - Olie T. Brown is named first dean of students

1953 - California Baptist Convention assumes full responsibility for California Baptist College

1953 - First Angelos yearbook is published

1954 - College is chartered by the State of California

1954 - Eight students become first to earn undergraduate degrees from CBC

1954 - "CBC We'll Love You," composed by Dr. S.E. Smith, is adopted as the official alma mater

1955 - CBC moves to Riverside campus

1955 - Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church is organized by faculty, staff and students

1955 - Lancer mascot is named

1956 - Dewey H. Jones organizes the first competitive basketball team

1958 - Dr. Loyed Simmons is named second president

Women visit UCR, circa 1957

Chuck Barnes, circa 1961

1960 - Annie Gabriel Library is dedicated

1960 - The Roundtable becomes the official campus publication for alumni

1961 - CBC receives full regional accreditation granted by the Western College Association

1964 - First candle lighting ceremony takes place

1964 - Lancer Arms Apartment buildings are constructed

1964 - CBU enrollment reaches 500

1968 - Simmons Hall and Smith Hall are constructed and dedicated

1968 - Van Dyne Field House is constructed and dedicated

1968 - Dewey H. Jones is appointed first academic dean

1969 - California Chapter of Beta Alpha Chi is installed

CBU graduates, circa 1969

A donkey basketball game at CBU, circa 1971

1971 - Dr. James R. Staples is named third president

1971 - Annie Gabriel Library adds 100,000th volume

1973 - The Wallace Book of Life Building is dedicated

1975 - Physical Plant/Maintenance Building is constructed

1979 - $800,000 note for the Riverside campus is paid

Five female CBU students with their arms extended, circa 1977

CBU students dressed in formal attire, circa 1980

1984 - Dr. Russell R. Tuck is named fourth president

1984 - First graduate degree is granted

1984 - Accreditation is granted by National Association of Schools of Music

1986 - Board of Trustees votes to create the California Baptist College Development Foundation

1987 - S.E. Boyd Smith contributes P. Boyd Smith Hymnology Collection to the Annie Gabriel Library

1989 - Bob and Dorothy Pentz Tennis Center is constructed

A small helicopter gifted to CBU, circa 1981

A group of CBU graduates, circa 1995

1990 - First Evening College classes offered in High Desert

1994 - Dr. Ronald L. Ellis is named fifth president with enrollment at 808

1995 - First students enroll in Master of Education degree program

1995 - Enrollment reaches 1,000

1996 - California Baptist University becomes first college on West Coast to receive accreditation by Association of College Business Schools and Programs

1996 - Metcalf Art Gallery opens

1996 - Enrollment reaches 1,500

1997 - Mission Hall, Fitness Center, Training Room and Athletic Offices are constructed

1997 - Enrollment reaches 2,000

1998 - Lambeth House is purchased

1998 - Willow Wood Apartments, Pine Creek Villas are purchased

1998 - California Baptist College officially becomes California Baptist University

1998 - The U.S. News & World Report listed California Baptist University among the top five regional liberal arts colleges for student-faculty ratio

1998 - Aquatic Center is constructed

Campus safety officers at CBU, circa 1990's

Yeager Center on the CBU campus

2000 - 50th anniversary celebrated

2001 - Willow Wood Apartments and Pine Creek Villas officially become University Place Apartments

2003 - Eugene and Billie Yeager University Center is completed

2003 - Graduate students participate in inaugural graduate commencement (separate from undergraduate exercises)

2004 - Phase I of The Cottages is completed

2004 - First "Spirit of Excellence" gala is held

2005 - Woodman of the World Building is purchased

2005 - Royal Rose and Rose Garden Apartments are purchased

2005 - Evening College Program officially becomes Adult Degree Completion Program

2005 - First Adult Degree Completion Program classes are offered in Beaumont

2005 - School of Nursing is established

2005 - Van Dyne Gym renovation is completed

2005 - Adams Villas Apartments are purchased

2005 - Phase II of The Cottages is completed

2005 - James Complex North Wing/Garrett Room renovations are completed

2005 - JoAnn Hawkins Music Building is completed

2005 - CBU is named "Business of the Year" by Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce

2006 - Magnolia Hacienda Apartments is purchased

2006 - Lutheran Church of the Cross is purchased

2006 - Adams Plaza is purchased

2007 - Lancers Outdoor Sports Complex is completed

2007 - School of Engineering is established

2007 - Organic chemistry lab renovation is completed

2007 - Army ROTC program is added

2008 - Lambeth House (School of Nursing) renovation is completed

2009 - Bourns Engineering Lab is established

2009 - 1,000 students graduate in a single year for the first time in school's history

CBU choir in performance

Event center on the CBU campus

2010 - CBU celebrates 60th anniversary

2010 - International Service Projects surpasses sending out 400th participant and 200th team since the 1997 founding of the program

2010 - College of Allied Health is established

2010 - Division of Online and Professional Studies is established

2010 - Enrollment reaches 4,715

2010 - CBU is named as a top-ranked university for the fifth straight year and is listed as a 2011 "Best Regional University" by U.S. News & World Report

2010 - Membership is approved in NCAA Division II, Pacific West Conference

2010 - Inaugural "Block Party" is added to homecoming

2011 - Wellness Center opens

2011 - Adams Plaza is renamed “Lancer Plaza”

2011 - First-ever 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation is received from Western Association of Schools and Colleges

2011 - Parkside Village Apartments is renamed "The Colony @ CBU"

2011 - College View Apartments is renamed "Lancer Palms Apartments"

2011 - Groundbreaking for School of Business Building takes place

2011 - Enrollment reaches 5,413

2011 - CBU is named as a top-ranked university for the sixth straight year and is listed as a "Best Regional University" by U.S. News & World Report

2011 - First certificate program (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is offered

2011 - ISP celebrates 15th anniversary

2011 - CBU becomes inaugural collegiate division of the CSBC disaster relief program

2011 - Microbiology and general chemistry lab renovations are completed

2011 - New classrooms are added to the Village, Mission Hall and the School of Engineering

2011 - Discovery U summer academic camp program is introduced

2011 - Campus expands to 128 acres

2011 - 1000 parking spaces are added

2011 - 100 undergraduate majors and concentrations are now offered

2011 - College of Architecture, Visual Arts and Design is established

2011 - School of Engineering becomes College of Engineering

2011 - Fall and spring commencements combined yield 1,147 graduates—the largest number of graduates in a single year

2011 - CBU is approved for second year candidacy in NCAA Division II

2012 - The class of 2012 numbers 1,365, the largest in the 62-year history of CBU

2012 - CBU sends out 300th ISP team

2012 - CBU is approved for 3rd year candidacy in NCAA Division II

2012 - School of Business Building is dedicated

2013 - Recreation Center is dedicated

2013 - FedEx donates Boeing 727 to aviation science program

2013 - CBU is listed as one of the "Best Regional Universities" by U.S. News & World Report for the eighth straight year

2013 - CBU honors 1,117 graduates at spring commencement

2013 - Online and Professional Studies ranks #25 in the nation for "Best Online Bachelor’s Programs" and #10 in "Best Online Programs for Veterans" by U.S. News & World Report

2013 - CBU is granted full membership in NCAA Division II

2013 - Fall enrollment exceeds 7,100 students

2013 - Aviation science program opens flight school

2013 - CBU ranks #13 in the West among "America's Best Colleges for Veterans" by U.S. News & World Report

2014 - CBU honors 1,335 graduates at spring commencement

2014 - Online and Professional Studies ranks #13 in "Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs for Veterans" by U.S. News & World Report

2014 - CBU's campus newspaper, The Banner, repeats its first place award at the National College Journalism Convention

2014 - CBU sends out 400th ISP/USP team

2014 - CBU advances in U.S. News & World Report rankings for ninth straight year

2014 - School of Nursing Annex and Prayer Garden are dedicated

2014 - Enrollment reaches 7,957

2014 - CBU honors Dr. Ronald L. Ellis' 20th year as president

2014 - CBU is listed on President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

2015 - CBU food ranks #3 among California universities by Niche.com

2015 - CBU Online advances among online bachelor programs in U.S. News & World Report rankings 

2015 - Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (CBU's first doctorate) launches in fall

2015 - College of Allied Health is renamed College of Health Science

2015 - Fall enrollment reaches 8,541, eclipsing “8080 by 2020” enrollment goal, five years ahead of schedule

2015 - Construction begins on 153,000 sq. ft. CBU Events Center

2015 - College of Health Science campus opens

2016 - Anonymous $10 million gift is announced; first eight-figure gift in CBU history to help fund new 100,000 sq. ft. building to house Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering

2016 - Class of 2016 has 2,218 applications for graduation—tops 2,000 for the first time

2016 - CBU hosts inaugural Courtyard Shakespeare Festival

2016 - School of Nursing becomes College of Nursing

2016 - Fall enrollment reaches 9,157 students—tops 9,000 for the first time

2016 - CBU receives third consecutive top-40 ranking for “Best Regional University” by U.S. News & World Report

2016 - CBU breaks ground for new 100,000 sq. ft. Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering building

2017 - CBU announces acceptance into Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and transition to NCAA Division I

2017 - $15.5 million-plus revitalization of the College of Health Science campus receives a beautification award in the category of “Exterior Reconstruction with Landscaping” from the Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful program

2017 - CBU Online ranks #8 nationally among “Top Online Education Programs” by U.S. News & World Report

2017 - “Mounted Lancer” sculpture is installed at CBU Events Center

2017 - CBU dedicates Events Center

2017 - School of Behavioral Sciences becomes the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

2017 - CBU celebrates inaugural commencement ceremonies in the Events Center

2017 - Drumline is added to CBU Pep Band

2018 - CBU Homecoming activities return to spring semester

2018 - Wellness Center moves to 3626 Monroe St., adjacent to College of Health Science campus

2018 - Dennis and Carol Troesh Engineering Building opens for fall semester

2018 - CBU conducts inaugural summer commencement ceremonies

2018 - 2,848 candidates for graduation make Class of 2018 largest ever at CBU

2018 - “Inspiration” sculpture is unveiled at CBU

2018 - The Habit Burger Grill opens at CBU

2018 - CBU Lancers begin competing in NCAA Division 1, Western Athletic Conference

2018 - Fall enrollment at CBU surges past 10,000 for first time (10,486)

2018 - CBU receives fifth consecutive top-40 ranking as “Best Regional University” by U.S. News & World Report

2018 - Chronicle of Higher Education ranks CBU #8 among fastest-growing U.S. colleges (2006–2016)

2019 - CBU launches the Leadership Studies, Ph.D. program, the first Ph.D. program and fifth doctoral degree program at CBU

2019 - Psychological Services of Riverside (PSR) opens

2019 - CBU Online ranks #42 nationally among “Top Online Education Programs” by U.S. News & World Report

2019 - Dennis and Carol Troesh Engineering Building at CBU is honored with top award for “New Construction with Landscaping” by Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful program

2019 - Dr. Ronald L. Ellis receives Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from Boy Scouts of America and is honored as 2019 Distinguished Citizen by the Mt. Rubidoux District

2019 - CBU surpasses 5,000 ISP volunteers since start of program in 1997

2019 - Class of 2019 is CBU’s largest graduating class ever with some 2,775 students eligible to participate in fall, spring and summer commencement ceremonies

2019 - East Parking Structure opens in Lancer Plaza, providing more than 1,450 additional parking spaces

2019 - CBU opens new main entrance to campus from Adams Street to Lancer Lane

2019 - Couch’s Corner, which includes the food concepts “Delect-a-Bowls” and “Shake Smart,” opens

Arched entrance to the CBU campus

Exterior of Magnolia Crossings at CBU

2020 - Doctor of Social Work program is launched

2020 - CBU offers all online courses during spring semester in response to COVID-19

2020 - The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and Inland Empire honors the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences as its 2019 Partner of the Year

2020 - CBU Adams Street entrance receives Riverside beautification award from City of Riverside

2020 - Dr. Ronald L. Ellis is honored for 25 years of transformational leadership

2020 - CBU Online earns a #52 spot among national bachelor’s programs in the 2020 “Top Online Education Program” for U.S. News & World Report

2020 - Division of Arts and Letters is created within College of Arts and Sciences

2020 - Magnolia Crossing campus housing opens

2020 - CBU receives seventh consecutive top-50 ranking as “Best Regional University” by U.S. News & World Report

2020 - Fall enrollment totals 11,317 despite coronavirus pandemic

2020 - CBU ranks first in California and fifth nationally among private universities helping students with social mobility

2020 - CBU honors 3,194 graduates in the class of 2020 in virtual commencement due to COVID-19

2021 - CBU Online ranks #67 nationally among “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” by U.S. News & World Report

2021 - Magnolia Crossing is honored with third place for “New Construction with Landscaping” by the Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful program

2021 - CBU holds 12 in-person spring commencement ceremonies to honor 2021 and 2020 graduates

2021 - College of Health Science launches Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Interior of Magnolia Crossings at CBU

2021 - CBU received eighth consecutive top-50 ranking as “Best Regional University” by U.S. News & World Report

2021 - Fall enrollment reached 11,491 students

2021 - Chronicle of Higher Education ranked CBU No. 7 among fastest-growing U.S. colleges (2009–2019)

2022 - NCAA board approved CBU's Division I membership status

2022 - CBU combined the music and theatre programs in the Shelby and Ferne Collinsworth School of Performing Arts

2022 - CBU Student Senate formed (replacing the Associated Students of CBU)

2022 - Fall enrollment reached 11,496 students

2022 - CBU Soccer Stadium completed and dedicated

2022 - CBU received ninth consecutive top-50 ranking as “Best Regional University” by U.S. News & World Report and earned the No. 2 spot for “Most Innovative Schools”

2023 - CBU announced gift of $28.5 million and the naming of The Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler Events Center

2023 - Soccer and softball fields honored with award by Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful program

2023 - President Dr. Ronald L. Ellis inducted into the Riverside Sport Hall of Fame

2023 - CBU tied for No. 1 in the country for career preparedness and No. 2 for best student experience in The Wall Street Journal’s 2024 ranking of the Best Colleges in the U.S.

2023 - CBU received 10th consecutive top-50 ranking as “Best Regional University” by U.S. News & World Report

2023 - Fall enrollment reached 11,580 students

2023 - Hae and Shina Park Building named — houses the Dr. Robert K. Jabs School of Business, Career Center and Innovators Auditorium

2023 - CBU received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a program aimed at improving higher education outcomes for Hispanic and low-income students