Francis Marion University

1970 –

What was initially a three-building, two-year regional campus of the University of South Carolina became Francis Marion College, accompanied by plans to build the only comprehensive college campus in the Pee Dee. Since its founding, the campus has expanded to include eighteen buildings on three hundred acres east of Florence.

Founded in 1970, Francis Marion University is one of South Carolina’s twelve state-supported universities and one of nine comprehensive institutions. In its authorizing legislation in 1969, the name of the institution was Marion State College. However, the name was changed by legislative enactment to Francis Marion College, named for South Carolina’s Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion.

The institution was the product of an effort begun in 1956 to bring higher education to the citizens of the Pee Dee. In 1957 the University of South Carolina opened the Florence Regional Campus, offering two-year programs. Subsequently, the Pee Dee Educational Foundation was chartered to receive and administer funds for a building site and campus construction. In 1968 the Central Pee Dee College District Board was created to provide higher-education opportunities for the citizens of Marion, Dillon, Florence, and Williamsburg Counties. In 1970 Francis Marion College was officially established on a one-hundred-acre site that was donated to the Pee Dee Educational Foundation by the descendants of Joseph Wilds and Sallie Gregg Wallace. What was initially a three-building, two-year regional campus of the University of South Carolina became Francis Marion College, accompanied by plans to build the only comprehensive college campus in the Pee Dee. Since its founding, the campus has expanded to include eighteen buildings on three hundred acres east of Florence.

In 1992 Francis Marion College became Francis Marion University (FMU). The academic program consisted of three schools, ten academic departments, and more than thirty major fields of study. Graduate degrees were offered in business, education, and psychology. FMU’s Alumni Association had more than twelve thousand members by the turn of the century, and the university enrolled approximately four thousand students annually.

FMU obtained accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Its most popular majors include biology, elementary education, and psychology. It has retained its reputation as an educational resource for the citizens of the Pee Dee region, although it draws almost ten percent of its student body from beyond South Carolina.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Francis Marion University
  • Coverage 1970 –
  • Author
  • Keywords Founded in 1970, General Francis Marion, Florence Regional Campus, Pee Dee Educational Foundation, Francis Marion University (FMU), ommission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date December 6, 2022
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 3, 2022
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