Winthrop University has been an educational leader in South Carolina for more than a century. In 1886, David Bancroft Johnson, a dedicated and gifted superintendent of schools, successfully petitioned Boston philanthropist Robert C. Winthrop and the Peabody Fund for seed money to form a school whose mission would be the education of women as teachers. As the "Winthrop Training School," Johnson's fledgling institution opened its doors to 21 students in Columbia, S.C., using a borrowed, one-room building. Because of its important role, Winthrop soon received state assistance and moved to its permanent Rock Hill home in 1895.

Over time, Winthrop became one of the premier women's colleges in the region and expanded its mission to become a comprehensive institution offering degrees in a growing variety of disciplines. The institution diversified its class ranks by extending its educational offerings to minorities in 1964 and becoming fully coeducational 1974. Winthrop assumed university designation in 1992 and has achieved national recognition in pursuit of its goal to be one of the finest comprehensive universities in the country.

Winthrop has changed dramatically since moving to its permanent Rock Hill home in 1895, growing from a single classroom to a comprehensive university of distinction. Winthrop's historic campus is a setting of exceptional beauty, as is its recreational area known as The Farm. Today, nearly 6,000 students take courses in arts and sciences, education, business administration, and visual and performing arts, all of which are supported by University College.