On September 16, 1960, the first class of 88 students was admitted to Methodist College.
About five years earlier, citizens of Fayetteville offered the Methodist Church a 600-acre tract and $2 million to establish a school in their town. Fayetteville attorney and future governor Terry Sanford was elected the first chairman of the board of trustees and L. Stacy Weaver was chosen as the first president.
When it first opened, the campus included a grouping of contemporary buildings; the architectural plan, created by Stevens and Wilkinson of Atlanta, earned a national citation for creativity and unity of design.
The school's first major expansion came in 1978, when it began offering two-year associate's degrees in addition to four-year bachelor's degrees.
In 1993, trustees recommended that the college borrow funds to build additional residence halls over the next five years to accommodate 300 new resident students. The trustees further recommended that the college undertake a major capital campaign of at least $10 million for increasing the endowment and constructing a library addition, and two new academic buildings.
In 2001, the school had a record enrollment, and inaugurated the first graduate program, which trains physician assistants.
In 2006, trustees voted to change the name of the school from Methodist College to Methodist University.
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