July 4th is an important date for Tuskegee University – it is not only Independence Day but also the anniversary in which this pioneering historically black university was established. Two names will forever be mentioned when the story of Tuskegee is told – Booker T. Washington and Lewis Adams.
Washington founded the institution on the historic day in 1881 and named it Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. He became president and served in that capacity till his death at the age of 59 in 1915. The development of the institute is credited to Dr. Washington’s great fundraising and mobilizing ability as he started the institution with hardly any money.
Initial funding for the establishment of the institution was provided by the ingenuity of Lewis Adams. He was a member of the Republican Negro Congress who suggested to a white Democrat who was seeking re-election in Alabama that one sure way of securing the Black vote was by establishing a school for them. When the Democrat, Wilbur F. Foster, won re-election, he delivered on his promise and the school was established with an annual allocation of $2,000 to pay teachers.
The school started with a class of 30 adult learners in a room donated by a local church, but under Washington’s visionary leadership, it soon purchased 100 acres of an abandoned plantation and this is the central part of the university today.
The university has six schools and colleges offering a wide range of programs. The most distinct college and the one that embodies the long history of the university is the College of Agricultural, Environmental and Natural Sciences (CAENS). The development of the college is credited to George Washington Carver who became the head of the agriculture department in 1896. Under his guidance, the college developed groundbreaking advances that aided the farmers of Alabama: he is the one who taught the rural farmers of Alabama the value of crop rotation.
Toady, CAENS has over seven departments, the leading one of which is the Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Department. The department offers graduate and undergraduate courses in three areas – Animal, Poultry and Veterinary Services, Environmental, Natural Resource and Plant Sciences and Agricultural and Resource Economics.
Students studying for a degree in any of the three areas have several options. Those enrolled in the Environmental, Natural Resource and Plant Sciences division, for example, have six options and could take courses in diverse areas including Environmental Science, Natural Resource Management, Horticulture, Forest Resources and Business.
Students seeking a degree in business and IT can enroll into the Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science (CBIS). Located in the four-storied Andrew Brimmer Hall, CBIS has four departments – Computer Science, Economics and Finance, Management and Sales and Marketing. The Computer Science department, for example, offers various courses for undergraduate students. Courses include Introduction to Computer Concepts and Application, Basic Programming, Visual Basic and Computer Organization and Assembly Language.
The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) offers courses in aerospace science engineering, chemical engineering, physics, mechanical engineering and, since 1998, has been running a doctoral program in materials science and engineering.
Other colleges and schools include the College of Liberal Arts and Education (CLAE), the College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing & Allied Health (CVMNAH) and the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction.
Students who are unable to access Tuskegee’s traditional education programs (adults and busy professionals, for example), could benefit from a wide variety of short courses under the university’s Continuing Education program. The university offers certificate courses in diverse areas such as language and public speaking, leadership courses, computer certification programs, sports & fitness and a host of investment courses.
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Students intending to pursue further studies must send their applications for admission by March 1st which is the university’s priority deadline for fall admissions. The deadlines for the spring and summer admissions are October 30th and April 30th respectively. The university reviews applications throughout the year and a student can apply at any time.
The university’s various schools and colleges have varying requirements for new students but, in general, a prospective student must meet two minimum admission requirements – a high school cumulative grade point average of 3.0 and 21 composite ACT score or a composite SAT score of 1000 in critical reading and math.
The university’s faculty analyzes the ACT/SAT scores and grade point averages of prospective students. International students are required to complete an International Student Application and to present their Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores – to be successful, the student must obtain a minimum score of 500 for the paper-based test or a score of 173 for the computer-based test. In addition, international students must present translated transcripts and provide an affidavit of support.
The university charges a modest non-refundable application fee for local applicants and a slightly higher application fee for international applicants, which is also non-refundable.
Financial aid is managed by the university’s Office of Financial Services. Aid is available for needy students who, however, have to meet some eligibility requirements. To be eligible, the student must be a citizen of the United States, a permanent resident of the U.S. or an eligible non-citizen. To be considered, an applicant must not be in default of any student loans or owe a refund on federal Pell grants or supplementary educational opportunity grants. In addition, the student must first obtain admission into the university before making an application.
For a student to qualify for and continue benefiting from financial aid, it is required that the student makes satisfactory academic progress. To this end, the student must maintain a cumulative minimum grade point average of 2.0. In addition, full-time students are required to pass at least 15 hours each semester and, at the end of four semesters, the student must have earned a minimum of 60 cumulative hours.
Grants are the most popular type of financial aid available for students because recipients do not have to repay. Students who are residents of Alabama could apply for Alabama Student Grants. Amounts given vary depending on the student’s financial need and the maximum amount a student can obtain each academic year is $2,500.
The Federal Pell Grant is awarded to needy undergraduates and amounts given are sometimes in excess of $5,000 per academic year. Level of need and amount given is determined by FAFSA. Other federal grants include the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG).
Undergraduate students who are in their 3rd or 4th year and pursuing a degree in math and other science subjects could apply for the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) which gives $4,000.
Financial aid is also available in the form of low-interest federal student loans. These include the Federal Perkins Loan, the Federal Direct Plus Loan, Federal Direct Subsidized Loan and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan.
Tuskegee University also offers work opportunities for undergraduates who qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program. Qualifying students are given work on the university’s campus and can only work for a maximum of 12 hours per week.
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The Golden Tigers have 12 athletic teams competing in a variety of sports including baseball, basketball, football, tennis, volleyball and track and field. The university’s teams compete in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) which has 12 other college and university teams. A member of the National Collegiate Athletic Conference (NCAA), SIAC sponsors six women’s championships and seven men’s championships.
Football matches are played at the university’s Abbott Memorial Alumni Stadium which has a sitting capacity of 10,000. The university’s men’s basketball team has been one of the teams to watch and it won the 2010 SIAC tournament.
The university’s track and field team is not only one of the most feared in the SIAC conference but has also been very successfully nationally. In 2010, for example, the team won 25 national collegiate championships.
In addition to joining one of the twelve athletic teams available, a student could also join the university’s vibrant cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are extremely energetic and are expected to urge-on the home team during its football and basketball games.
Some graduates have gone on to make a name for themselves and to develop highly successful careers. Some distinguished alumni include multiple Grammy Award singer and songwriter, Lionel Richie, who launched his singing career at the university.
America’s first black four-star general, Daniel “Chappie” James is also a graduate as is former president of California State University, Dr. Marvalene Hughes. The creator of America’s first cooperative extension program, Thomas Monroe Campbell also studied here as did Dr. Vera King Farris, the first African American president of a New Jersey Public College.
Accreditation is provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Justine Ventimiglia graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Currently residing in a 1950’s modest ranch in Metro Detroit, she enjoys researching and writing about Mid Century Modern furniture and decor as she works on restoring her home and documenting the process.