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History & Traditions

History & Traditions

Agnes Scott College was established in 1889 with a distinctive mission: to educate women for the betterment of their families and the elevation of their region. Today, that mission has evolved into a commitment to educate women from around the world to “think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.”

The college was named in honor of Agnes Irvine Scott, a Scots-Irish immigrant who upheld a strong sense of integrity and intellectual curiosity. Her son Col. George Washington Scott was the college’s primary benefactor, and the Rev. Frank Henry Gaines, minister of Decatur Presbyterian Church, was the founding president.

Initially named the Decatur Female Seminary in 1889 and renamed the Agnes Scott Institute in 1890, the college was chartered as Agnes Scott College in 1906 and was the first institution of higher education in Georgia to receive regional accreditation.

Academic and Moral Leadership
Student self-government under an honor code has been a hallmark since 1906. A founding member of many national and regional educational associations, Agnes Scott has been a member of Phi Beta Kappa since 1926. Since the early 1920s, the college has ranked in the top 10 percent of American colleges whose graduates complete Ph.D. degrees.

Presbyterian Origins
Founded in the Presbyterian educational movement that started with Princeton University, Agnes Scott continues to be related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and its Board of Trustees is an independent, self-perpetuating governing body.

Diversity with Unity
The Agnes Scott student body has expanded to include women who represent the diversity that is the United States and the world and women who are returning to college to complete their degrees. The engagement of the Agnes Scott community in the intellectual, cultural and social issues of its times represents both the proud history and the bright future of the college.