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)