History

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 constructed


    1927 Administration Building constructed


  • 1930s

    1934 W. E. James Building constructed


  • 1950s

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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


      

  • 1960s

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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


     

  • 1970s

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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


     

  • 1980s

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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


     

  • 1990s

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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


  • 2000s

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    2000 50th Anniversary celebrated


    2001 Willow Wood Apartments and Pine Creek Villas officially became University Place Apartments


    2003 Eugene and Billie Yeager University Center completed


    2003 Graduate students participate in Inaugural Graduate Commencement (separate from undergraduate exercises)


    2004 Phase I of The Cottages completed


    2004 First "Spirit of Excellence" gala held


    2005 Woodman of the World Building purchased


    2005 Royal Rose and Rose Garden Apartments purchased


    2005 Evening College Program officially became Adult Degree Completion Program


    2005 First Adult Degree Completion Program classes offered in Beaumont


    2005 School of Nursing established


    2005 Van Dyne Gym renovation completed


    2005 Adams Villas Apartments purchased


    2005 Phase II of The Cottages completed


    2005 James Complex North Wing/Garrett Room renovation completed


    2005 JoAnn Hawkins Music Building completed


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


    2006 Magnolia Hacienda Apartments purchased


    2006 Lutheran Church of the Cross purchased


    2006 Adams Plaza purchased


    2007 Lancers Outdoor Sports Complex completed


    2007 School of Engineering established


    2007 Organic Chemistry lab renovation completed


    2007 Army ROTC program added


    2008 Lambeth House (School of Nursing) renovation completed


    2009 Bourns Engineering Lab established


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


     

     

     

  • 2010

    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


  • 2011

    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


  • 2012

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    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


  • 2013

    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


  • 2014

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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


     

  • 2015

    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


  • 2016

    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


  • 2017

    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


  • 2018

    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)