Saint Augustine’s University was chartered as a “Normal School and Collegiate Institute” on July 19, 1867, by the Reverend J. Brinton Smith, D.D., secretary of the Freedman’s Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Right Reverend Thomas Atkinson, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. Bishop Atkinson became the first president of the Board of Trustees and Dr. Smith was the first principal. The new school opened its doors for instruction on January 13, 1868.
In 1893, the School’s name changed from Saint Augustine’s Normal School to Saint Augustine’s School. In 1919, the name changed to Saint Augustine’s Junior College, the first year in which postsecondary instruction was offered. The School became a four-year institution in 1927. In 1928, the institution was renamed Saint Augustine’s College. Baccalaureate degrees were first awarded in 1931.