In 1906, William Carey University began in Hattiesburg as South Mississippi College. Noted educator W.I. Thames served as president. A devastating fire destroyed the college in 1910. W.S.F. Tatum, a Hattiesburg business leader, acquired the property upon which the campus now resides and gave it to the Mississippi Baptist Convention.In 1911, the school became Mississippi Woman's College, and W.W. Rivers served as president. Subsequent presidents were John L. Johnson, Jr. (1912-1932) and William E. Holcomb (1932-1940).The college had to close in 1940 due to financial hardships, but reopened in 1946 under the leadership of President Irving E. Rouse (1946-1956). In 1953, co-educational status was granted to the college by the Mississippi Baptist Convention.In 1954, the school was named William Carey College in honor of the 18th century English cobbler-linguist. William Carey (1761-1834) earned international recognition as "Father of Modern Missions" for his decades of missionary work in India.In 1956, J. Ralph Noonkester became president, and he led Carey until 1989. Other presidents were James W. Edwards (1989-1997) and Larry W. Kennedy (1998-2006). In 2007, R. Thomas King, a Carey alumnus, became Carey's ninth president. In the school's centennial year, the name was changed to William Carey University.The university has
campuses in Hattiesburg, New Orleans and Gulfport. Taken from one of William Carey's sermons, the university's motto is "Expect great things from God; attempt great things from God."