Alabama State University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States to be founded by African Americans.
The university occupies 138 acres in the historic Centennial Hill area of Montgomery, Alabama.
Following the Civil War, African-Americans in Alabama felt a need for providing quality education for their children. With this objective in mind, their leaders founded Lincoln Normal School in Marion, Alabama.
The private school was reorganized by the state into the State Normal School and University for the Education of the Colored Teachers and Students, in 1874.
However, owing to racial clashes, the school was moved to its present location in Montgomery in 1887, and was renamed Alabama Colored People’s University. The name was again changed in 1889, to the State Normal School for Colored Students.
The State Normal School for Colored Students attainted the status of a junior college in 1920, and began its first postsecondary level education program.
During the period between 1929 and 1954, the establishment changed its name three times: to State Teachers College, in 1929, to Alabama State College for Negroes, in 1949, and to Alabama State College, in 1954.
It was reorganized as a four-year institution, and the first bachelor's degree was awarded in 1931.
The first master's degree program was completed in 1943. The college was promoted to the university level in 1969, following which it adopted the present name of Alabama State University.
Alabama State University owes its success to the early founding members. Prominent among these was Peyton Finley, the first black member of the State Board of Education.
It was due to his efforts that the Lincoln Normal School was reorganized by the Alabama State Legislature to the State Normal School and University for the Education of the Colored Teachers and Students, in 1874.
This reorganization made Lincoln Normal School the nation’s first state-supported educational institution for blacks.
Another important personality in the university’s formative years was William Burns Paterson.
Paterson, who was white, became the president of the university, in 1878. He succeeded in making the university the first state-supported institution for the training of black teachers in the nation.
Furthermore, he led the campaign for establishing the university in its present site of Montgomery.
He held the presidential chair for more than 37 years and guided the institution during its turbulent years, preventing it from closure.
It was during his tenure that the university taught its first classes, in October 1887. Paterson is therefore considered as the founder of the university.
Alabama State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The degrees offered include Associate of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Education, and Specialist in Education degrees.
Additional associate degrees are offered in Business Administration and Management, Computer Science, and Child Development.