General University Information


As a student at ASU, you become part of a select group invited to make this University home for a lifetime — wherever you go and whatever you become, your touch- stone can be ASU. You will have opportunities to transform these special years of university experience into steppingstones to the future. You are invited to dream, to see the future’s open door and to begin the journey. You can take pride in your ASU and you can add to its legacy. Define your vision and start your journey today.

The ASU Legacy—Perseverance, Progress and Promise

ASU’s 147-year history is a legacy of perseverance, progress and promise. The ASU movement began with the impetus to establish a school for black Alabamians. The Civil War resulted not only in the end of slavery but also in the opportunity for blacks to have the right to an education. With the Northern victory, black Southerners, with the assistance of Northern white missionaries and the leaders of African-American churches, set out to establish educational institutions for the freedmen. ASU was born in that movement.

Blacks in the Black Belt of Alabama, the heart of the Confederacy, founded Lincoln Normal School at Marion in 1867. As a descendent of that school, ASU is one of the oldest institutions of higher education founded for black Americans. The men who comprised the Board of Trustees were Joey Pinch, Thomas Speed, Nickolas Dale, James Childs, Thomas Lee, John Freeman, Nathan Levert, David Harris and Alexander H. Curtis. Under the leadership of this group, the blacks of Marion raised $500 and purchased a suitable site on which a school building was constructed.

Until the new school was built, the American Missionary Association (AMA) leased a building, operated, and financed the school. In 1869, the AMA, with the support of $2,800 from the Freedmen’s Bureau of the federal government and support from the ―colored people of Alabama,‖ raised $4,200 to construct a new building. In 1870, while the AMA provided the teachers, the legislature appropriated $486 for the school’s use. The state’s support increased to $1,250 the next year.

In 1871, Peyton Finley petitioned the legislature to establish a ―university for colored people,‖ but his request was denied. He persisted, and in 1873, the Alabama Legislature established a ―State Normal School and University for the Education of Colored Teachers and Students.‖ That act included the provision that Lincoln School’s assets would become part of the new school. The trustees agreed, and in 1874, the school first president, George N. Card, led the effort in re-organizing Lincoln Normal School in Marion as America’s first state- supported liberal arts educational institution for blacks.

Black leaders continued to press for a more prominently supported school for black youths. In 1887 the state of Alabama authorized the establishment of the Alabama Colored People’s University. The land and building allocations were combined with pledges of $5,000 from black citizens who wanted the University in Montgomery. Thus, the University offered its first class in Montgomery in 1887.

Although University president William Paterson and others had overcome initial opposition to locating the school in Montgomery, opponents of state support of education for blacks remained hostile to the new University. Such opponents filed suit in state court and won a ruling 1887 from the Alabama Supreme Court that declared unconstitutional certain sections of the legislation that established the University for African-Americans. Thus, the school operated for two years solely on tuition fees, voluntary service and donations until, by act of the Legislature in 1889, the state resumed its support. The new law changed the name of the school from university to Normal School for Colored Students, thus skirting the Supreme Court’s finding and re-establishing the $7,500 state appropriation.

Despite having to face tremendous obstacles, the ASU family continued to make significant contributions to the history of the state and nation, especially with the involvement of students and employees in the Civil Rights Movement. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the first direct action campaign of the modern Civil Rights Movement, awakened a new consciousness within the University and the community responded to the call for participants. Even though officials, in a state committed to segregation, retaliated against the school with a decrease in funding, ASU continued to persevere and flourish so that today, it is a model of diversity and equal opportunity for all. At the same time, ASU is a beacon in the legacy of black leadership and the preservation and celebration of African- American culture.

150 Years of Leadership

ASU is a direct descendent of Lincoln Normal School at Marion established in Perry County, Alabama, in 1867.

Although many people worked to establish Lincoln Normal School, Peyton Finley, the first elected black member of the State Board of Education, contributed most in the early years to make the institution permanent. Through his efforts and with the assistance of the institution’s first president, George N. Card, the school became a state-supported educational institution in 1874.

In 1887 the Legislature authorized the establishment of a university, allocated $10,000 for a land purchase and building construction, and set aside $7,500 annually for operating expenses. Montgomery citizens pledged $5,000 in cash and land and donated the use of some temporary buildings. Under the leadership of President William Paterson, the University opened in Montgomery at Beulah Baptist Church with a faculty of nine members. Eight months after the enabling legislation, the university taught its first class on October 3, 1887.

In 1889 was a pivotal year in the university’s development when $3,000 pledged to the state was given to authorities along with land for development of a permanent campus at the university’s current location between Decatur and Hall streets. The University erected Tullibody Hall the next year as its first permanent building. That building burned in 1904 and was rebuilt in 1906 as the university’s first brick structure, which also was named Tullibody Hall.

Paterson, who had guided the University through the early years, and who is generally considered the founder because of his 37 years of service, died in 1915. During the following decade, presidents John William Beverly and George Washington Trenholm organized the institution as a four-year teacher training high school and added a junior college department. In the early 1920s the University began operating on the four-quarter system and added the departments of home economics and commerce. This decade of growth and change also saw the purchase of additional land, including an 80-acre farm which constitutes the bulk of the University’s current holdings. The state also appropriated $50,000 for the construction of dormitories and dining facilities.

In 1925, G. W. Trenholm died and was succeeded by his 25-year-old son, Harper Councill Trenholm—who served as president for 37 years. He oversaw the change from a junior college to a full four-year institution, a process completed in 1928 which enabled the college to confer its first baccalaureate degree in teacher education in 1931. In 1940 Trenholm initiated a graduate degree program, and State Teachers College awarded its first master’s degree in 1943. The school also established branch campuses in Mobile and Birmingham.

Trenholm was eager for the institution to develop and gain recognition. Thus, he worked to improve the physical facilities in concert with advances in the quality of academic programs. During the economic expansion that followed the end of the Great Depression, the University constructed eight permanent brick buildings, a swimming pool and a stadium. To reflect changes in its programs, the Legislature authorized the institution to change its name to State Teachers College in 1929, Alabama State College for Negroes in 1948, and Alabama State College in 1954. In 1935 the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredited the college’s programs.

In 1962, after Trenholm’s illness an interim president, Levi Watkins, became president. In 1969, the State Board of Education, then the governing board of the college, approved a name change and the institution became Alabama State University. During these years, the university began a path of steady growth and development in its current role as a comprehensive University. In 1975, the Legislature established an independent board of trustees for the University.

In 1981, Robert Lee Randolph was appointed president, a position he held until 1983. During his tenure, Title III received its largest federal government funding. WVAS- FM was planned, construction began on the Tullibody Fine Arts Center, and the University Apartments were constructed.

After serving 10 months as interim president, Leon Howard was appointed president in 1984, a position he held until 1991. During his presidency, ASU saw dramatic increases in student enrollment, an aggressive student retention program was started, and the social work program received national accreditation. The largest capital campaign, the Endowment for Excellence, raised $1.5 million. Two new dormitories were completed.

C.C. Baker, a 1954 alumnus, served as president from 1991 to 1994. During his tenure, the enrollment reached an all-time high of 5,600 students; programs were reaccredited; athletic programs flourished; the Olean Black Underwood Tennis Center and C. Johnson Dunn Tower were opened in January 1994; and the Acadome was dedicated in 1992.

When William H. Harris became president in 1994, his commitment was to transform ASU into a comprehensive regional university through excellence and diversity. Significant investments were made in technology, the student body became more diverse, and community outreach was emphasized through partnerships with K-12, civic and community organizations. The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture, Business and Technology Center, and Center for Leadership and Public Policy were established. Degree programs in health information management and occupational therapy and graduate programs in accountancy and physical therapy were created. Improvements in the living and learning environment were made, including renovation to Paterson Hall and the $4.2 million restoration of historic George Lockhart Hall.

Dr. Joe A. Lee became president in 2001 and served until 2008. His vision focused on a student’s-first philosophy, which emphasized development of a comprehensive student retention program, renovation/construction of a student union building, and completion of the John L. Buskey Health Sciences Center. Accreditation for the University and for academic programs was reaffirmed; and educational leadership, policy and law became the first doctoral degree program offered at ASU. A transitional doctorate in physical therapy was introduced, the University experienced a record enrollment, and the women’s basketball team earned national recognition.

In 2008 Dr. William Harris returned to ASU as president. His vision focused on transforming Alabama State University through excellence in teaching, research, ser- vice and a diverse population.

Dr. Joseph H. Silver Sr. was appointed president September 11, 2012. During his brief term, the University continued its path toward transformation. Dr. William H. Harris was called on again to lead the University in November of 2012. He served in that capacity for 13 months before returning to retirement.

Dr. Gwendolyn E. Boyd was selected by the Board of Trustees on December 20, 2013, to serve as the University’s first female president. A 1977 ASU graduate, Boyd returned to her alma mater, after a stellar 33-year career at Johns Hopkins University, with a vision of promoting the University as the ―Land of Opportunity.‖

The Alabama State University Mission

Alabama State University is a student-centered, nurturing, comprehensive and diverse public historically black University committed to achieving excellence in teaching, research and public service. The University fulfills its mission through fostering critical thought, artistic creativity, professional competence and responsible citizenship in its students; by adding to the body of knowledge to enhance the quality of life through research and discovery; and by helping to advance the state and nation through thoughtful public service. Offering baccalaureate through doctorate degrees, the University maintains a scholarly and creative faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and a living atmosphere in which all members of the campus community can work and learn in pleasant and rewarding surroundings. Consistent with its assurance that race, gender nor economic status inhibits intelligence, creativity or achievement, ASU offers a bridge to success for those who commit to pursuing the building blocks of development, focus, persistence and reward.

National Alumni Association

The National Alumni Association of Alabama State University is the organization that includes among its members graduates and former students who have attended the University for at least two full semesters or three quarters. To become active members of the National Alumni Association, eligible alumni join a local alumni chapter by payment of local and national dues as established by the governing bodies and make annual contributions to the University. Associate memberships are granted to spouses of graduates and to a limited degree,persons who have strong affection for the University and make significant tangible gestures of support.

University relations activities are coordinated by the director for alumni relations, annual and planned giving, who serves on the association’s executive board and works closely with the affiliated alumni chapters. These activities include maintaining a computer file of alumni names and addresses, publication of the alumni directory, fundraising, student recruitment, organizing class reunions, promoting major athletic events among alumni and assisting in the preparation of alumni news for University publications.

Faculty members are encouraged to strengthen the alumni and students’ allegiance to the University through promotion of the alumni association. Faculty who are alumni of the university can add credibility to alumni activities and best show their support by becoming active members of the alumni association. A strong alumni association, as an advocate, can do much to strengthen the university and the welfare of its faculty and students .

University Development Fund

The Alabama State University Development Fund is organized to encourage, receive and administer gifts for the exclusive benefit of the University and its students, faculty and staff. Gifts may be in cash, securities, leases, royalties, literary and artistic collections and real or personal property.

Activities of the fund include loans and grants for individuals on study leave engaged in research or special projects, students having special needs, and assistance to the University for any worthy project for which state funds are not available or may not be lawfully used. The fund was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees on Nov. 2, 1978. Contributions to the fund are exempt from federal income tax. Each member of the faculty and staff is encouraged to join other friends of the University in contributing to the fund. Contributions may be handled as payroll deductions if desired.

Information concerning activities of the fund and contributions to the fund may be obtained from the Office of Planning and Development located in Councill Hall. Directors of the fund are the chief elected officer of the Faculty Senate, president of the Student Government Association, vice president for fiscal affairs, director for alumni relations and president of the University.

University Foundation

The Alabama State University Foundation was chartered under the laws of the state of Alabama on Dec. 27, 1967, as a nonprofit organization incorporated to receive and to hold gifts, grants, bequests, money, property and other things of value for the benefit of the University, its faculty, and its students, and to give the University such resources for educational and research purposes.

Activities of the Foundation include loans, grants and matching funds for students; grants and loans for study leaves; salary supplements for ―master teachers‖; financial assistance for research for eligible faculty; and assistance for University development.

Contributions to the Foundation are exempt from federal income tax, are free from state control and do not displace tax funds.

The president of the University is liaison officer for the foundation and the only University employee who serves on its board of directors. An administrative officer or member of the faculty may serve on each standing committee of the foundation.

Accreditation and Standing of the University

In redefining its mission to include a broadened and larger constituency, Alabama State University has set high standards for itself. As a result, the University today is accredited by several organizations. Alabama State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097; Telephone number 404-679-4500) to award masters, educational specialist degrees, and doctoral degrees. Alabama State University has additional accreditations from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) National Association of Schools of Music, National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and National Association of Schools of Theatre.

ASU is approved by the Alabama State Department of Education, and its programs and credits are accepted for teacher certification. ASU is fully approved by the Veterans Administration to provide educational programs authorized by Congress under several federal acts and those authorized by the state of Alabama under the Alabama G.I. and Dependents Benefit Act.

The Physical Therapy Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) through 2018. Current and prospective students may file a complaint with CAPTE in writing:

1111 N. Fairfax St. Alexandria, VA 22314, by phone: 1-800-999-2782, or by email:

The Occupational Therapy Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449, (301) 652-AOTA (

The Rehabilitation Counseling Program is accredited through Summer 2014 by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), located at 1699 E. Woodfield Road, Suite 300, Schaumburg, IL 60173; (847) 944-1345; (URL: The program will be notified in July 2014 regarding its application for reaccreditation status.

The Prosthetics and Orthotics Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ( upon the recommendation of the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). CAAHEP staff can be reached at 1361 Park Street, Clearwater, FL 33756; (727) 210-2350;

Also, the College of Business Administration is fully accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and an association member of the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

ASU also holds membership in several organizations, including the following: American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Council on Education, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, College Language Association, Alabama Association of College Administrators, American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education, American Association of University Women, National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Association of Intercolle- giate Athletics, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, American College Public Relations Association, Council of Graduate Schools, Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, Alabama Council of Graduate Deans, and Council of Historically Black Graduate Schools.


Growth is a quintessential part of any dynamic institution, and Alabama State University is no exception. Less than 15 years ago, the enrollment was 1,600 and the University’s 52-acre campus encompassed only 12 permanent buildings. Today the enrollment has increased to more than 6,000. The campus covers 105 acres and more than 30 permanent buildings. The buildings are set in a landscape design that rivals the most beautiful urban campuses in the South.

The ASU campus is located only a short walk from the state capitol, the state government complex and downtown Montgomery. This location makes the downtown business district, the municipal civic center, art galleries, theaters, medical centers, the state archives and historical sites readily accessible to students. Across the street from the campus is beautiful municipal Oak Park, with one of the few space transit planetariums in the nation. The campus adjoins Interstate 85 and is about two miles from the Montgomery interchange of Interstate 65 and 85. Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter annex are only a few minutes’ commuting distance.