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

  • 1920s

    1921 Building that currently houses the Annie Gabriel Library is constructed

    1927 Administration Building is constructed

  • 1930s

    1934 W. E. James Building is constructed

  • 1950s

    juanice_brister_1954  Girls visit to UCR


    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


  • 1960s

    chuck_barnes_track_1961_62  1968_1969


    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


  • 1970s

    donkey_basketball_1971_72  women_1977


    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


  • 1980s

    1980_1981  helicopter_gift_1981


    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


  • 1990s

    graduation_1994_95  public_safety_1990s


    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

  • 2000s

    yeager_center  uco


    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


  • 2010s

    Events Center New Entrance


    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

  • 2020s

    Magnola Crossing Exterior  Magnola Crossing Interior


    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