In the early history of Rust College, its first president, the Reverend A.C. McDonald, stated the purpose of Rust College as follows: "It is our aim to not do hot-house work, seeking to hurry students through a college curriculum, as do many mushroom schools in the South, sending them into the battle of life only to disgrace themselves and bring reproach upon the cause of education at large, but take the by far more difficult and tedious plan of trying to lay well a foundation for a broad, thorough, and practical education, such as shall fit our pupils for long lives of usefulness to themselves, their race, and the church."

A history of Rust College

In 1892, the name was changed to Rust University to avoid confusion with another Shaw University.

The name was a tribute to Richard S. Rust of Cincinnati, Ohio, Secretary of the Freedman's Aid Society. In 1915, the title was changed to the more realistic name, Rust College.

As students progressed, high school and college courses were added to the curriculum, and in 1878 two students were graduated from the college department. As public schools for Negroes became more widespread the need for private schools decreased, and in 1930 the grade school was discontinued. The high school continued to function until 1953.

A significant change in the administration of the institution took place in 1920 when Dr. M.S. Davage became president, the first Negro to hold that position. Dr. L. M. McCoy (1924), his successor, was the first alumnus to serve his Alma Mater as president. He was followed in 1957 by Dr. Earnest A. Smith, an alumnus, class of 1937. In 1967, Dr. William A. McMillan, a non-alumnus assumed the presidency. In 1993, Dr. David L. Beckley, an alumnus, class of 1967, became the eleventh president of Rust College.

Among approximately 20,000 former students of Rust College, many completed only their elementary or secondary education. However, more than 10,000 have graduated from the college department. Among these alumni are bishops of the United Methodist Church and other Church denominations, public school teachers and administrators, college presidents, lawyers, physicians, businessmen, government leaders and ministers.

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