Our History in Detail >>>

The youngest comprehensive university in the Commonwealth, Christopher Newport University was founded in 1960 as Christopher Newport College, a two-year branch of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Located in historic Hampton Roads, the institution was named for the 17th-century English mariner who helped establish the Jamestown Colony. The University became independent in 1977 and gained university status in 1992.

Today, CNU is a four-year, undergraduate liberal arts university, enrolling 5,000 students in rigorous academic programs through the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences including the Luter School of Business. CNU combines traditional liberal arts and sciences curriculum with contemporary teaching ideologies and an emphasis on growing leaders of the future.

1960   Established and authorized by the Virginia General Assembly as a two-year branch of the College of William & Mary. Mr. H.Westcott Cunningham became Christopher Newport College's first president (1960 – 1970).

1961   Opened its doors with more than 170 students enrolled at its initial location, a former public school building in downtown Newport News, generously provided by the City and its school board.

1963   A 75-acre tract of land on north side of Shoe Lane was purchased by the City of Newport News and given to the Commonwealth of Virginia for site of current campus.

1964   First building (Christopher Newport Hall) is constructed on the site of current campus.

1970   Dr. James C.Windsor became college president (1970 – 1979).

1971   Became a four-year baccalaureate, degree-granting institution.

1977   Gained independence from the College of William & Mary.

1980   Dr. John E. Anderson became president (1980 – 1986).

1991   Began offering graduate programs. Dr. Anthony R. Santoro became president (1987 – 1996).

1992   Officially became Christopher Newport University.

1996   Former U.S. Senator Paul S. Trible Jr., became university president (1996 – present).

1999   CNU named #2 among regional public liberal arts colleges in the South by U.S.News & World Report guide to "America'sBest Colleges."

2001   Established NCAA Division III Football.

2005   Opened the Ferguson Center for the Arts and state-of-the-art athletics facility, The Freeman Center.

2007   President Trible and Timothy J. Sullivan, President and CEO of The Mariners' Museum announce that the Museum's nationally renowned Library will be housed in the new Trible Library,

2008   Paul and Rosemary Trible Library opened. CNU established the Joseph W. Luter, III College of Business & Leadership.

2009  U.S. News and World Report annual college rankings, Christopher Newport University ranked #7 nationally as an "Up-and-Coming" liberal arts institution and was listed as a Tier 4 School.

2010 New 86,000 square foot Lewis Archer McMurran, Jr. Hall opens -  houses liberal arts academic departments, honors and graduate teaching programs.
2011  The Princeton Review includes Christopher Newport University in its annual “best colleges” guidebook, The Best 376 Colleges: 2012 Edition.
Forbes Magazine ranked Christopher Newport University #4 of the top 20 colleges for minorities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

U.S. News & World Report ranked Christopher Newport University the #6 Up-and-Coming" regional university in the South.

New 160,000 square foot integrated science center Mary Brock Forbes Hall opens.

Interested in learning more?

Visit the CNU Bookstore to purchase Sean M. Heuvel's book "Christopher Newport University" or A. Jane Chambers, Rita C. Hubbard, and Lawrence Barron Wood Jr.'s book "Memories of Christopher Newport College, The First Decade 1961 - 1971"

back to top