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 constructed

1927 Administration Building constructed




1934 W. E. James Building constructed




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1950 P. Boyd Smith named first President

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

1951 Olie T. Brown named first dean of students

1953 California Baptist Convention assumes full responsibility for California Baptist College

1953 First Angelos yearbook published

1954 College 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, adopted as the official Alma Mater

1955 CBC moved to Riverside campus

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

1955 Lancer Mascot named

1956 Dewey H. Jones organized the first competitive basketball team

1958 Dr. Loyed Simmons named second President




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1960 Annie Gabriel Library dedicated

1960 The Roundtable became 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 constructed

1964 CBU enrollment reaches 500

1968 Simmons Hall and Smith Hall constructed and dedicated

1968 Van Dyne Field House constructed and dedicated

1968 Dewey H. Jones appointed first academic dean

1969 California Chapter of Beta Alpha Chi installed



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1971 Dr. James R. Staples named third President

1971 Annie Gabriel Library adds 100,000th volume

1973 The Wallace Book of Life Building dedicated

1975 Physical Plant/Maintenance building constructed

1979 $800,000 note for the Riverside campus paid



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1984 Dr. Russell R. Tuck named fourth president

1984 First graduate degree granted

1984 Accreditation granted by National Association of Schools of Music

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

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

1989 Bob and Dorothy Pentz Tennis Center constructed



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1990 First Evening College classes offered in High Desert

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

1995 First students enrolled in Master of Education degree program

1995 Enrollment reached 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 opened

1996 Enrollment reached 1,500

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

1997 Enrollment reached 2,000

1998 Lambeth House purchased

1998 Willow Wood Apartments, Pine Creek Villas purchased

1998 California Baptist College officially became California Baptist University

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

1998 Aquatic Center constructed



50th Anniversary celebrated




Willow Wood Apartments and Pine Creek Villas officially became University Place Apartments




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Eugene and Billie Yeager University Center completed

Graduate students participate in Inaugural Graduate Commencement (separate from undergraduate exercises)




Phase I of The Cottages completed

First "Spirit of Excellence" gala held




Music Bldg Music Bldg Entrance

Woodman of the World Building purchased

Royal Rose and Rose Garden Apartments purchased

Evening College Program officially became Adult Degree Completion Program

First Adult Degree Completion Program classes offered in Beaumont

School of Nursing established

Van Dyne Gym renovation completed

Adams Villas Apartments purchased

Phase II of The Cottages completed

James Complex North Wing/Garrett Room renovation completed

JoAnn Hawkins Music Building completed

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




Magnolia Hacienda Apartments purchased

Lutheran Church of the Cross purchased

Adams Plaza purchased




Sports Complex ROTC

Lancers Outdoor Sports Complex completed

School of Engineering established

Organic Chemistry lab renovation completed

Army ROTC program added




Lambeth House (School of Nursing) renovation completed




Bourns Engineering Lab established

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




60th Anniversary celebrated

Surpassed 400 participant-mark and 200th team for International Service Projects since 1997 founding of program

College of Allied Health established

Division of Online and Professional Studies established

Enrollment reached 4,715

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

Membership approved in NCAA Division II, Pacific West Conference

Inaugural "Block Party" added to homecoming



Cottages Colony

Wellness Center opened

Adams Plaza renamed “Lancer Plaza”

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

Parkside Village Apartments renamed "The Colony @ CBU"

College View Apartments renamed "Lancer Palms Apartments"

Groundbreaking for School of Business building

Enrollment reached 5,413

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

First certificate program (Autism Spectrum Disorder) offered

ISP celebrates 15th anniversary

CBU became inaugural collegiate division of the CSBC disaster relief program

Microbiology and general chemistry lab renovations completed

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

Discovery U summer academic camp program introduced

Campus expanded to 128 acres

1000 parking spaces added

100 undergraduate majors and concentrations offered

College of Architecture, Visual Art & Design established

School of Engineering becomes College of Engineering

Fall and spring commencement combined yielded 1,147 graduates—the largest number of graduates in a single year

Approved for 2nd year candidacy in NCAA Division II



Business Bldg Inside Business Bldg

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

CBU sends out 300th ISP team

Approved for 3rd year candidacy in NCAA Division II

School of Business Building dedicated



Rec Center 727

Recreation Center dedicated

FedEx donates Boeing 727 to Aviation Science program

For 8th straight year, CBU is listed as one of the "Best Regional Universities" by U.S. News & World Report

CBU honors 1,117 graduates at spring commencement

Online and Professional Studies ranked #25th in the nation for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report

Online and Professional Studies ranked #10 in best online programs for veterans

CBU granted full membership in NCAA Division II

Fall enrollment exceeds 7,100 students

Aviation science program opens flight school

CBU is ranked #13 in the West among America's Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report




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CBU honors 1,335 graduates at spring commencement

Online and Professional Studies ranked #13 in best online bachelor's degree programs for veterans by U.S. News & World Report

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

CBU sends out 400th ISP/USP team

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

School of Nursing Annex and Prayer Garden dedicated

Enrollment reaches 7,957

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

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




Health Science Campus Cafeteria food

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

CBUOnline advances among online bachelor programs in U.S. News & World Report rankings 

Doctor of nursing practice degree (CBU's first doctorate) launches in fall

College of Allied Health renamed to College of Health Science

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

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

CBU Health Science Campus opens




Anonymous $10 million gift 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

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

CBU hosts inaugural Courtyard Shakespeare Festival

School of Nursing becomes College of Nursing

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

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

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




Events Center Lancer Statue

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

$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

CBUOnline ranked No. 8 nationally among “Top Online Education Programs” by U.S. News & World Report

“Mounted Lancer” sculpture installed at CBU Events Center

CBU dedicates Events Center

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

Inaugural commencement ceremonies at CBU Events Center

Drumline added to CBU Pep Band




Engineering Bldg Habit Ribbon Cutting

CBU Homecoming activities return to spring semester

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

Dennis and Carol Troesh Engineering Building opens for fall semester

CBU conducts inaugural summer commencement ceremonies

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

“Inspiration” sculpture unveiled at CBU

The Habit Burger Grill opens as newest eatery at CBU

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

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

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

Chronicle of Higher Education ranks CBU No. 8 among fastest-growing U.S. colleges (2006–2016)