Alabama State University

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Alabama State University
AlStateU seal.png
Motto Opportunity is Here.
Type Public, HBCU
Established 1867
Academic affiliations
Endowment $86.5 million[1]
President Quinton T. Ross Jr.
Provost Leon C. Wilson
Students 5,475
Undergraduates 5,116
Location Montgomery, Alabama
Campus Urban, 172-acres[2]
Colors Black and Old gold
Nickname Hornets and Lady Hornets
Sporting affiliations
Alabama State University logo.png

Alabama State University, founded 1867, is a historically black university located in Montgomery, Alabama. ASU is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


Alabama State University founded in 1867 as the Lincoln Normal School of Marion in Marion. In December 1873, the State Board accepted the transfer of title to the school after a legislative act was passed authorizing the state to fund a Normal School, and George N. Card was named President. Thus, in 1874, this predecessor of Alabama State University became America's first state-supported educational institution for blacks. This began ASU’s history as a “Teacher’s College.”

In 1878, the second president, William Paterson, was appointed. He is honored as a founder of Alabama State University and was the president for 37 of the first 48 years of its existence. Paterson was instrumental in the move from Marion to Montgomery in 1887. In 1887, the university opened in its new location in Montgomery, but an Alabama State Supreme Court ruling forced the school to change its name; thus, the school was renamed the Normal School for Colored Students.

In the decades that followed Lincoln Normal School became a junior college and in 1928 became a full four-year institution. In 1929 it became State Teachers College, Alabama State College for Negroes in 1948 and Alabama State College in 1954. In 1969, the State Board of Education, then the governing body of the university, approved a name change; the institution became Alabama State University. The 1995 Knight vs. Alabama remedial decree transformed ASU into a comprehensive regional institution paving the way for two new undergraduate programs, four new graduate programs, diversity scholarship funding and endowment, funding to build a state-of-the art health sciences facility and a facility renewal allocation to refurbish three existing buildings.

WVAS-FM was launched on June 15, 1984, beaming 25,000 watts of power from the fifth floor of the Levi Watkins Learning Center for two years before moving to its current location at Thomas Kilby Hall. Today, WVAS has grown to 80,000 watts and enjoys a listenership that spans 18 counties, reaching a total population of more than 651,000. In recent years, the station has also begun streaming its broadcast via the Web, connecting a global audience to the university.

The early 1990s witnessed the beginning of WAPR-FM (Alabama Public Radio), which Alabama State University and Troy University, both of which already held station licenses of their own, cooperated with the University of Alabama in building and operating. WAPR-FM 88.3—Selma – The signal reaches the region known colloquially as the Black Belt, about 13 counties in the west central and central parts of Alabama, including the city of Montgomery.

The university experienced some tension with the state government in 2013 and 2014. In December 2012, university president Joseph Silver resigned after only six months in the job. In October 2013, the state governor asked the university to halt its ongoing presidential search to address an audit that alleged that "ASU attempted to thwart and hamper the audit," several trustees received improper benefits, and significant financial mismanagement. The audit was ordered to investigate Silver's claims that he was forced to resign because he questioned "suspicious contracts" at the university.[3] Nine months later, the governor requested the chairman and vice chairman of the university's board of trustees resign for alleged conflict-of-interest violations; the chairman resigned and the governor removed the vice chairman.[4] During the November 4th hearing Alabama State University Board of Trustees voted 8–6 to place University President Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd on paid leave for failure to maintain confidence of the board. A public hearing was held on November 14 and December 16, 2016 where Boyd responded to the charges. Finally, after deliberating for six hours, the Alabama State University Board of trustees voted 8–6 to terminate Boyd's employment contract. Board chairman Ralph Ruggs assembled a special committee to conduct a nationwide search for Boyd’s replacement. Trustee Angela McKenzie will head the committee.


Alabama State University has more than 6,000 students from more than 42 states and over twenty countries.[5]

ASU Equinox sculpture

Alabama State University has eight degree-granting colleges, schools, or divisions.

  • College of Business Administration
  • College of Education
  • College of Health Sciences
  • College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • College of Science, Mathematics & Technology
  • College of Visual & Performing Arts
  • Division of Aerospace Studies
  • Continuing Education

Alabama State offers 47 degree programs including 31 bachelors’, 11 masters’, two Education Specialist and three doctoral programs, Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Law, Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and a Doctorate in Microbiology. In addition, the university offers the W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program for undergraduate students who meet the high performance criteria.[6]

As a result of Alabama State not offering engineering degrees, the university established a dual degree engineering program with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) that gives qualified ASU students automatic admissions into UAB's undergraduate engineering program. ASU undergraduate students who successfully complete the program will receive a STEM related bachelor's degree from ASU and an engineering bachelor's degree from UAB in approximately five years.[7]

Alabama State is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Association of Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy, the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM, the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) and the Council of Social Work Education.[8]


Bibb Graves Hall

ASU's urban, 172-acre (0.70 km2) campus has Georgian-style red-brick classroom buildings and architecturally contemporary structures. ASU is home to the state-of-the-art 7,400-seat academic and sports facility the ASU Acadome, the Levi Watkins Learning Center, a five-story brick structure with more than 267,000 volumes, the state-of-the-art John L. Buskey Health Sciences Center which is an 80,000 square foot (7,400 m2) facility which houses classrooms, offices, an interdisciplinary clinic, three therapeutic rehabilitation labs, a state-of-the-art Gross Anatomy Lab, Laboratory for the Analysis of Human Motion (LAHM), a Women’s Health/Cardiopulmonary lab, and a health sciences computer lab, and WVAS-FM 90.7, the 80,000-watt, university operated public radio station.

Student life

More than 70 student organizations are chartered at Alabama State, including nine Greek-letter organizations, a full range of men’s and women’s intramural and intercollegiate sports, and 17 honors organizations. In addition to social, cultural and religious groups, there are musical opportunities, such as the marching and symphonic bands, the choir, and departmental organizations for most majors. The hornets also have a Student Government Association, in which every student at the University holds membership. The current SGA President at Alabama State University is Nickolas Ivery.

Student publications

The students are served by two media publications, The Hornet Tribune (student newspaper) and The Hornet (the student yearbook).


ASU athletics logo

The Alabama State University Department of Athletics currently sponsors men's intercollegiate football, baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, track and cheerleading along with women's intercollegiate basketball, soccer, softball, bowling, tennis, track, volleyball, golf and cheerleading. Sports teams participate in NCAA Division I (FCS – Football Championship Subdivision for football) in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), which it joined in 1982. The university's colors are black and old gold and their nickname is the Hornets.

The Mighty Marching Hornets

Alabama State's marching band is officially known as "The Mighty Marching Hornets". The band has been invited several times to the Honda Battle of the Bands and nationally recognized. The Mighty Marching Hornets are stars of a documentary series. The show is called "Bama State Style" and it offers a peek in to the lives of the students in the band. In 2016, The Mighty Marching Hornets made an appearance in Ang Lee's film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.[9] In 2017, the band's 2012 halftime performance at the Magic City Classic garnered over 3 million views on YouTube.

The featured auxiliary is The Sensational Stingettes, a dance line that debuted in 1977. The Stingettes were invited to appear in the "Give It 2 U" music video and live performance with artists Robin Thicke, Kendrick Lamar, and 2 Chainz.[10]

The youngest auxiliary is The Honey-Beez, a dance line composed of only plus-size young women that debuted in 2004. The Beez perform almost exclusively at halftime during football games in the fall and band battle events.[11] In 2017, the Beez were selected to showcase their talents and compete on America's Got Talent.[12]

The Mighty Marching Hornets are traditionally led by four or five drum majors. They and the Stingettes perform at select football games, all basketball SWAC home games, and other special events.

The Bama State Collegians

The Bama State Collegians is a big band jazz orchestra sponsored by Alabama State University. In the 1930s, the ensemble was directed by noted jazz trumpeter, Erskine Hawkins, an inductee of both the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. After moving to New York City, the Collegians, directed by Hawkins, became the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra and produced a string of national hit records, including "Tuxedo Junction", "After Hours", "Tippin' In" and others. The song "Tuxedo Junction", with its recordings by Hawkins and by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, became one of the anthems of World War II in America. In 2011, the story of Erskine Hawkins and his start in the Bama State Collegians was the subject of a Florida State University Film School MFA Thesis Film "The Collegians", written and directed by Alabama State University alumn Bryan Lewis.[13][14][15]

See also

University presidents

  • 1874–1878: George N. Card
  • 1878–1915: William Burns Paterson
  • 1915–1920: William Beverly
  • 1920–1925: George Washington Trenholm
  • 1925–1961: Harper Councill Trenholm
  • 1961–1962: Robert C. Hatch (interim president)
  • 1962–1981: Dr. Levi Watkins Sr.
  • 1981–1983: Dr. Robert L. Randolph
  • 1983–1991: Dr. Leon Howard
  • 1991–1994: Dr. Clifford C. Baker
  • 1994–2000: Dr. William Hamilton Harris
  • 2000–2001: Dr. Roosevelt Steptoe (interim president)
  • 2001–2008: Dr. Joe A. Lee
  • 2008–2012: Dr. William Hamilton Harris
  • 2012-2012: Dr. Joseph H. Silver Sr.
  • 2012–2014: Dr. William Hamilton Harris (interim president)
  • 2014–2016: Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn E. Boyd
  • 2016–2017: Dr. Leon C. Wilson (interim president)
  • 2017–present: Dr. Quinton T. Ross Jr.

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Joe L. Reed civil rights pioneer
W.C. Patton civil rights leader who served as state president of the Alabama NAACP from 1947 to 1955, and was later the national director of voter education of the NAACP [16]
Ralph David Abernathy 1950 civil rights leader and minister
Fred Gray attorney who represented Rosa Parks during the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Enos Luther Brookes civil rights leader, early Black Chemist, and Head of Chemistry Department
Dr. Fred Shuttlesworth civil rights leader and minister, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Council
Fred Wesley American jazz and funk trombonist, best known for his work with James Brown in the 1960s and 1970s.
Eugene Sawyer politician and businessman, former Mayor of Chicago from 1987–1989 [17]
China Jude 1994 first black female athletic director, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (2007–11) and Queens College 2011–Present
Antonio "Bam" Richards offensive analyst/recruiting coordinator – University of Michigan Football
J. Bernard Calloway 1997 actor who has appeared in Broadway productions as well making appearances on TV and film [18]
Clarence Carter 1960 American soul singer and musician. Best known for his hits "Strokin'", "Patches", "Snatching It Back" [19]
Rickey Smiley comedian/actor
Dionne Walters contestant on America's Next Top Model
Jesse White 37th Secretary of State of Illinois
Doug Williams 1995 comedian/actor
Brad Baxter former American football running back who played 7 seasons in the NFL for the New York Jets(1989–1995
Eddie Robinson former American football linebacker who played 11 seasons in the NFL for the Houston Oilers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, and the Buffalo Bills. He started for the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Erskine Hawkins noted jazz musician, composer of "Tuxedo Junction"
Felix Stallings, Jr. electronica artist/producer/DJ Felix da housecat
James Daniel 1974 tight ends coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Jessie Tompkins 1998 former nationally ranking American athlete in Track and Field and head coach for the East Montgomery Track Club, Tompkins was the first African America student to challenge the State of Alabama’s White-Only Race based scholarships. His story was featured in the Wall Street Journal and Aired on 60 Minutes with Morley Safer (vice versa). Double Reverse Scholarship program for whites becomes a test of preferences By June Kronholtz,The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 1997, [20]
Kefla Hare 2000 actor, educator, motivational speaker; MTV Road Rules Down Under (season 6 cast member), Hip Hop Harry (Emmy nominated children series on TLC and Discovery Kids
Kevin Loder 1981 former NBA player for the Kansas City Kings and San Diego Clippers
Lewis Jackson 1984 former NBA player, educator, ASU basketball coach
London "Deelishis" Charles winner of reality show Flavor of Love 2
Marcus Winn Linebacker for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League
Quinton Ross member of the Alabama Senate, representing the 26th District
Ralph Simpson first African American to earn a PhD (music) from Michigan State University; former Dean of the School of Music at Tennessee State University
Manny Martin former NFL defensive back for the Buffalo Bills during the 1990s
Terren Jones 2012 current NFL offensive lineman
Michael Coe 2007 current NFL defensive back
Reggie Barlow 1996 former professional football wide receiver and current head football coach at Virginia State University
Steven Daniel 1993 actor/comedian Steven Daniel
Tangi Miller 1993 actress with The WB's Felicity
Tarvaris Jackson 2006 professional football player, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks [21]
Woody McCorvey 1972 assistant head football coach for the Mississippi State University Bulldogs [22]
Travis Pearson former Arena Football League player
2 Chainz hip-hop/rapper
Lil Yachty vocalist

Notable faculty

Name Department Notability Reference
Alvin Holmes alumnus and member of the Alabama State Legislature, representing the 78th District (Montgomery) [23]
Arthur D. Baylor Criminal Justice first black police chief of Montgomery, Alabama. Appointed by President Obama in 2010 and currently serves as the U.S. Marshal for the Middle District of Alabama.
Horace B. Lamar Music Professor and Former Dean of School of Music
John F. Knight alumnus, Executive Vice President and C.O.O at Alabama State University, and member of the Alabama State Legislature for the 77th district
Sheyann Webb-Christburg notable civil rights activist, author of Selma Lord Selma! and Dr. Martin Luther King's proclaimed "smallest freedom fighter".
Ralph J. Bryson English professor and former Grand Historian of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity
Tonea Stewart Theatre actress, playwright, and Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts [24]
Josephine Turpin Washington Mathematics 1886 Howard University alumni, early writer on civil rights topics [25]
Jo Ann Robinson Leader in the Montgomery, AL Women's Political Council and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Additional reading

  • Bond, Horace Mann (1969) [1939]. Negro Education in Alabama A Study in Cotton and Steel. New York: Octagon Books. 
  • Caver, Joseph (1982). A Twenty-Year History of Alabama State University, 1867–1887." Master's thesis. Alabama State University. 
  • Knight v. Alabama, 933 F.2D. 1991. 
  • United States v. Alabama, 828 F.2D 1532. 11th Cir. 1987. 
  • Watkins, Levi (1987). Fighting Hard: The Alabama State University Experience. Detroit, Mich.: Harlo Press. 
  • Westhauser, Karl E.; Elaine M. Smith; Jennifer A. Fremlin, eds (2005). Creating Community: Life and Learning at Montgomery's Black University. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. 


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Alabama State University". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. July 28, 2008. 
  3. ^ Evan Belanger (October 15, 2013). "Alabama State University pushes ahead with presidential search, despite request from governor to halt (updated)". Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  4. ^ Evan Belanger (July 25, 2014). "Gov. Bentley removes Alabama State University Trustee Marvin Wiggins from office". Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Academic Offerings". Alabama State University. Archived from the original on September 26, 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2009. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Alabama State University. "Accreditation". 
  9. ^
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  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (February 3, 1997). "W. C. Patton, 84, Alabama Voice for Black Voters". New York Times. 
  17. ^ Wilkerson, Isabel (December 3, 1987). "Man in the News; A Calm Voice For Chicago: Eugene Sawyer Jr". New York Times. 
  18. ^ "Alabama State graduate lands on Broadway". Archived from the original on December 21, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "CIR News: Legal Battles Against Reverse Discrimination". 
  21. ^ "Tarvaris Jackson". Archived from the original on March 15, 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2007. 
  22. ^ "Woody McCorvey". Mississippi State University. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Alabama State Legislature: Alabama House of Representatives- Alvin Holmes". Alabama State Legislature. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  24. ^ "Bio of Stewart, Tonea". AEI Speakers Bureau. Archived from the original on May 13, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  25. ^ Penn. The Afro-American Press and Its Editors, 1891, pp.393–396 Retrieved December 4, 2013

External links

  • Media related to Alabama State University at Wikimedia Commons
  • Official website

Coordinates: 32°21′50″N 86°17′42″W / 32.364°N 86.295°W / 32.364; -86.295

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