The founder of Winthrop University will soon enter a new fraternity of local legends.
David Bancroft Johnson will be inducted into the S.C. Hall of Fame next spring, alongside other influential state figures such as astronaut Ronald Erwin McNair, agriculturist Eliza Lucas Pinckney, former Gov. John C. West and Winthrop graduate Lucille Godbold, class of 1922.
Johnson served as Winthrop’s inaugural president from 1886 until his death in 1928. He will be formally recognized at an induction ceremony in spring 2017 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
“David Bancroft Johnson was an influential educator and advocate who tirelessly promoted Winthrop, earning distinction at the state and national levels,” said Winthrop president Dan Mahony. “It is a tremendous honor to see him recognized – 130 years after Winthrop’s founding – for his leadership and significant contributions to this institution and the field of education.”
The South Carolina Hall of Fame was established in 1973 to honor South Carolinians, past and present, for their contributions to the state and the nation.
The Hall of Fame honors state legends, including multiple Revolutionary War statesmen, several governors, and even a NASCAR champion.
One contemporary and one deceased citizen are inducted into the Hall of Fame annually. The Hall hasn’t released the identity of the contemporary inductee that will be inducted along with Johnson. .
Gina Price White, a 1983 and director of Louise Pettus Archives & Special Collections, led the charge to secure Johnson’s induction into the Hall of Fame.
“Dr. Johnson was fond of saying that ‘the sun never sets on Winthrop daughters,’” said White. “This statement is still true today for both Winthrop daughters and sons. Winthrop graduates have shared the higher education legacy of D.B. Johnson throughout the world.”
After receiving two degrees at East Tennessee University, now the University of Tennessee, Johnson moved to South Carolina and was eventually appointed superintendent of the Columbia City Schools.
Grappling with a chronic teacher shortage, Johnson decided to establish an all-female teacher training institution. His vision would become the Winthrop Training School.
Johnson would go on to receive recognition at state and national levels. He is buried on campus at the Little Chapel, which served as the classroom for Winthrop’s first students.