Chowan’s presence makes us all winners

Published 4:27 pm Monday, October 6, 2008

You don’t have to be a graduate or work at Chowan University to fully understand the importance and the impact this educational institution has on our area.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, Chowan officially celebrates its 160th birthday. While some may joke that I’ve been around for each of those years, it’s no joking matter that I am a proud Chowan graduate (Associates Degree in Graphic Arts; Class of 1973).

That college, now a four-year university, has meant a lot to the education of young people throughout the Roanoke-Chowan area, the state, the nation and the world for 160 years. Its “down home” atmosphere, low teacher-to-student ratio and outstanding leadership has turned this sleepy little college into a giant among her educational peers.

For 160 years, Chowan has withstood a bushel basket full of setbacks and is stronger today for her troubles.

Tracing its heritage to 1848, past, present and future students of this grand university can thank the likes of Dr. Godwin Cotton Moore. It was Dr. Moore who sat down with Baptist laymen of northeastern North Carolina and southside Virginia in April of that year in a meeting to establish a school of higher learning for their daughters.

In October of 1848, 11 young ladies enrolled at the newly christened Chowan Female Institute.

Now, 160 years later, Chowan boasts of an enrollment of more than 900. Those students, who hail from our own backyard and from nations abroad, are able to study and obtain baccalaureate degrees in 40 academic disciplines within five strong academic divisions.

But this grand old lady also extends a warm welcome to non-students. On a regular basis, this newspaper publishes a wide variety of events hosted by Chowan. There are musical productions, stage plays, art displays, an array of educational symposiums and the like, all open to the public and free of charge. What this means is we are extremely fortunate not to be forced to travel long distances to enjoy the cultural arts…we have them right in our own backyard at Chowan.

If collegiate athletics gets your blood pumping, then Chowan University offers men’s and women’s sports on several fronts. The football Hawks play their last home game of the season at 6 p.m. this Saturday (Oct. 11). I would encourage everyone to get out and support Head Coach Tim Place and his vastly improving team at that game.

There is also plenty of exciting sports action on Chowan’s soccer field, basketball court, tennis court, baseball diamond and softball field as well as golf.

If home is where the heart is, then we can all come home to Chowan.

Happy Birthday, Chowan…here’s wishing you another 160 years of success.

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at or at 252-332-7207.