Piedmont International University (PIU) was the surviving entity in each of the mergers and was renamed Carolina University in 2020. Piedmont was originally launched in September, 1945 by Dr. Charles H. Stevens, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. He established Piedmont Bible Institute to accommodate returning war veterans who wanted to study Bible and theology and serve as pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders. In January, 1947, the Institute was officially chartered, and under the direction of the Board of Trustees, plans were formulated for the enlargement of facilities and equipment. John M. Deeds Hall was the first major project to be completed in accordance with these plans.
In response to the recommendation of missionary agencies and leaders in the field of Christian Education, the Bible Institute enlarged its faculty and expanded its curriculum to include a Bible college in the spring of 1948. The first college students were enrolled in the fall semester of that year. In 1956, Piedmont Bible College became an accredited member of the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (AABC), now called The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).
Dr. Donald K. Drake became Piedmont’s president in 1970. Campus facilities expanded under his leadership to include a newly constructed residence hall and a student center/gymnasium complex. Degree programs in teacher education and missionary aviation were added.
In 1987, Dr. Howard Wilburn succeeded Dr. Drake as president. Under his leadership, the institution was accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), and in August 1994, the first graduate level classes were offered. The university also began offering classes in Bangladesh which would eventually lead to a teaching site there.
Charles Petitt began his tenure as President and CEO in March, 2002. Enrollment has grown exponentially under his leadership. His focus on creative innovation and professional collaboration resulted in a number of mergers that brought seven Christian universities, colleges, and seminaries together to form Carolina University. Other advancements include renovations and/or updates in every building on campus, the successful completion of a $10M fundraising campaign, the translation of multiple degrees into other languages, and the launch of a number of new degrees in career-friendly fields where future double digit job growth is projected in careers with substantial salary expectations.
When the University changed its name to Carolina University, the trustees decided to honor Piedmont’s historic name and heritage of teaching Bible and theology to equip ministers by creating the Piedmont Divinity School and creating the Piedmont Ministry Scholarship which provides a 75% scholarship for international students who enroll in the Master of Arts in Ministry degree in any language in which it is offered. As a result, more students are enrolled in that degree than any other at CU.
The Presidents of Piedmont International University