For over a hundred years Bishop College provided higher education for Black students in northeastern Texas.
Based in Marshall, Harrison County, the school was established in 1881 as a project of the Baptist Home Mission Society and Nathan Bishop. Also involved in the establishment of the school was Rufus C. Burleson, President of Baylor University. He managed to get $25,000 for the school during a National Baptist Education Society meeting.
Ministers found the college a prime location in Marshall since most of the state’s Black population lived in eastern Texas. Bishop College appointed its first Black president, Joseph J. Rhoads, in 1929. Rhoads remained with the school until after World War II and heavily promoted the ministerial program: The Lacy Kirk Williams Institute. Originally, it was a two-year program but later turned into a one-week seminar.
Later Years and Decline
In 1961, Bishop College received a grant from the Hoblitzelle Foundation. This allowed for the school to expand or move if it wished. Later that year, it moved to a new Dallas campus and experienced a boom in enrollment. By 1970, the school welcomed 2,000 students.
Bishop College seemed to be enjoying a period of extreme growth with a number of pastors and football players graced its halls and graduation stage. That momentum ended in 1988 when the school became the center of a financial scandal. As a result, Bishop couldn’t receive funding from the United Negro College Fund and its accreditation was revoked.
Eighteen years later, Georgetown College was pursuing a significant bump in minority enrollment. One of the attempts to do so involved offering the family of Bishop College alumni diplomas with Bishop College insignia. This is a continual part of the school’s Bishop Scholars Program.
President William Crouch Jr. Also pushed to have Bishop graduates adopt Georgetown as their alma mater. Some 7,000 Bishop College graduates were adopted from the Dallas school.