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Tuskegee University
Motto Scientia Principatus Opera
Motto in English Knowledge, Nation, Deeds
Established 1881
Type Private, HBCU
Endowment $102 Million
President Benjamin F. Payton
Undergraduates 2,500
Postgraduates 200
Location Tuskegee, Alabama,
United States

32°25′48.76″N 85°42′27.81″W / 32.4302111°N 85.707725°W / 32.4302111; -85.707725
Campus Rural 5000 Acres
Colors Crimson and Old Gold
Mascot Golden Tigers

Tuskegee University is a private, historically black university located in Tuskegee, Alabama, United States. It is a member school of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. The campus forms the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark.



Tuskegee University ranked 6th among Historically black colleges and universities in the U.S. News & World Report "America's Best Colleges" magazine.

Schools and colleges

National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care

National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care is the nation's first bioethics center devoted to engaging the sciences, humanities, law and religious faiths in the exploration of the core moral issues which underlie research and medical treatment of African Americans and other underserved people. The official launching of the Center took place two years after President Bill Clinton's apology to the nation, the survivors of the Syphilis Study, Tuskegee University, and Tuskegee/Macon County, Alabama for the U.S. Public Health Service medical experiment (1932-1972), where 399 poor—and mostly illiterate—African American sharecroppers became part of a study on the treatment and natural history of syphilis.[1]


Planning and establishment

History class at Tuskegee, 1902

The school was the dream of Lewis Adams, a former slave, and George W. Campbell, a former slave owner. Adams could read, write and speak several languages despite having no formal education. He also was an experienced tinsmith, harness-maker and shoemaker and Prince Hall Freemason, an acknowledged leader of the African-American community in Macon County, Alabama.

During Reconstruction, the period following the American Civil War, the South was impoverished. Many blacks were illiterate and had few employable job skills. Adams was especially concerned that, without an education, the recently freed former slaves would not be able to support themselves. Campbell, of like-thinking, had become a merchant and a banker. He had little experience with educational institutions, but he was willing to contribute all of his resources and efforts to make the school a success.

W.F. Foster, a white candidate for the Alabama Senate, came to Adams with a question. What would Adams want in return for securing the votes of African Americans in Macon County for Foster and another white candidate? In response, Adams asked for a normal school for the free men, freed slaves and their children (a normal school, at that time, was the name for a teacher's college) to be established in the area.

Foster and the other candidate were elected. He worked with the fellow legislator Arthur L. Brooks to draft and pass legislation authorizing $2,000 to create the school. Adams, Thomas Dyer, and M.B. Swanson formed Tuskegee's first board of commissioners. They wrote to Hampton Institute in Virginia, asking the school to recommend someone to head their new school. Former Union Army General and Hampton Principal Samuel C. Armstrong felt that he knew just the man for the job: 25 year-old Booker T. Washington.

Booker T. Washington's leadership

Presidents of Tuskegee University
Dr. Booker T. Washington 1881 – 1915
Dr. Robert Moton 1915 – 1935
Dr. Frederick Patterson 1935 – 1953
Dr. Luther Foster, Jr. 1953 – 1981
Dr. Benjamin Payton 1981 – present

Washington was a former slave who, after working menial labor jobs as a freedman, had sought a formal education and worked his way through Hampton Institute and had graduated from Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. He had returned to Hampton, where he was working as a teacher. Sam Armstrong, who knew him well, strongly recommended him to Tuskegee's founders in Alabama.

Lewis Adams and Tuskegee's governing body agreed, and hired Washington, although such positions had always been held by whites. Under his leadership, the new normal school (for the training of teachers) opened on July 4, 1881 in space borrowed from a church. The following year, Washington bought the grounds of a former plantation, where the campus is still located. The buildings were constructed by students, many of whom earned all or part of their expenses through construction, agricultural, and domestic work. The school was a living example of Washington's dedication to the pursuit of self-reliance. In addition to training teachers, one of his great concerns was to teach the practical skills needed to succeed at farming or other trades. This was done in order to teach his students to see labor not only as practical, but also as beautiful and dignified. One of Tuskegee's most noteworthy professors was George Washington Carver, who was recruited by Washington.

The Oaks, Booker T. Washington's home on the Tuskegee campus, circa 1906

In addition to building Tuskegee, Washington became a famous orator and leading spokesperson for African Americans in the United States for the final 20 years of his life. He was awarded honorary degrees, including a doctorate. Later Washington was perceived as accommodating, for emphasizing industrial arts as the priority in black education. At the same time, however, he used his wealthy patrons to secretly fund and arrange legal representation for blacks in litigation over disfranchising provisions of state constitutions. He helped bring forward such cases as Giles v. Harris (1903) and Giles v. Teasley (1904).[2]

Dr. Washington used Tuskegee to develop a network of wealthy American philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie, Collis P. Huntington, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Huttleston Rogers and Elizabeth Milbank Anderson. According to Dr. Washington's papers, Rogers, who had a poor public image as a robber baron and a leader of Standard Oil, was actually warm and generous with his friends, family and what he felt were worthy causes. An early champion of the concept of matching funds, Henry Rogers was a major anonymous contributor to Tuskegee and dozens of other black schools for more than 15 years. In June 1909, Dr. Washington made a famous speaking tour along the newly completed Virginian Railway in Rogers' personal railcar Dixie, stopping at rural points in southern Virginia and southern West Virginia where the railroad was providing a new transportation link for commerce. His traveling companion on the tour recorded that Dr. Washington was warmly received by blacks and whites alike.

1940 photo, Junior class in farm management at Tuskegee Institute.

Another major relationship Washington developed was with Julius Rosenwald, son of an immigrant Jewish clothier and self-made man who had risen to the top of Sears, Roebuck and Company in Chicago, Illinois. He and other Jewish friends had long been concerned about the lack of educational resources for blacks, especially in the South. After meeting with Dr. Washington, Rosenwald agreed to serve on Tuskegee's Board of Directors. He also worked with Dr. Washington to stimulate funding to train teachers schools such as Tuskegee and Hampton Institute. Beginning with a pilot program in 1912, he created model schools and stimulated construction of new schools. He used technical help from Tuskegee to develop plans and build schools. Rosenwald created a fund but required communities to raise matching funds to encourage local collaboration. Rosenwald and Washington stimulated the construction and operation of more than 5,000 small community schools and supporting resources for the education of blacks throughout the rural the South in the early 20th century. The local schools were a source of much community pride and were of priceless value to African-American families during those troubled times in public education. This work was a major part of Dr. Washington's legacy and was continued (and expanded through the Rosenwald Fund and others) for many years after his death.

Despite his travels and widespread work, Dr. Washington continued as principal of Tuskegee. Concerned about the educator's health, Rosenwald took steps to ease his tireless pace. However, in 1915, Washington died at the age of 59, as a result of congestive heart failure, reportedly aggravated by overwork. At his death, Tuskegee's endowment exceeded US$1.5 million. He was buried on the campus near the chapel.

World War II

In 1941, in an effort to train black aviators, a training squadron of the U.S. Army Air Corps was established at Tuskegee Institute, using Moton Field, about 4 miles away from the campus center. These aviators became known as the Tuskegee Airmen and both the Army and Air Force R.O.T.C. programs still exist there today. The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field was established in 1998. Robert Russa Moton was the successor to Booker T. Washington after his death in 1915, and the second president of Tuskegee Institute.

Eleanor Roosevelt lends support

Distinguished visitors
President William McKinley (Republican) visited December 16, 1898
President William Howard Taft (Republican) visited April 27, 1920
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited July 26, 1941
President Gerald Ford (Republican) visited April 13-14, 1978
Vice President George H. W. Bush (Republican) visited April 12, 1981
President Ronald Reagan (Republican) Spring Commencement Speaker
on May 10, 1987
President George W. Bush (Republican) visited April 19, 2006

Eleanor Roosevelt was very interested in the work at the Tuskegee Institute, particularly in the aeronautical school. In 1941 she visited Tuskegee Army Air Field and asked to take a flight with one of the Tuskegee pilots. Although the Secret Service was anxious about the ride, flight instructor Charles A. Anderson piloted Mrs. Roosevelt over the skies of Alabama for over an hour. That flight proved for Mrs. Roosevelt that blacks could fly airplanes and she did everything in her power to help them in that endeavor.

Eleanor Roosevelt also corresponded with F.D. Patterson, the third president of the Tuskegee Institute, and lent her support to the Institute whenever she was able to do so.[3]


Tuskegee campus, 1916.

Tuskegee University is located at 32°25′48.76″N 85°42′27.81″W / 32.4302111°N 85.707725°W / 32.4302111; -85.707725

Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site

Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
Tuskegee University is located in Alabama
Nearest city: Tuskegee, Alabama
Coordinates: 32°25′49″N 85°42′28″W / 32.43028°N 85.70778°W / 32.43028; -85.70778Coordinates: 32°25′49″N 85°42′28″W / 32.43028°N 85.70778°W / 32.43028; -85.70778
Built/Founded: 1882
Architect: Robert Robinson Taylor
Architectural style(s): Greek Revival, Queen Anne
Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966[4]
Designated NHL: June 23, 1965[5]
NRHP Reference#: 66000151

The campus of Tuskegee Institute was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.[5] The area covered in the landmark designation is not specifically defined in the 1965 description, and hence may be assumed to include the entire Tuskegee University campus at the time.[6]

Points of "special historic interest," noted in the landmark description include:[6]

The campus is also a National Historic Site, under the name Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, distinct from the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site which is a separate National Historic Site.

Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center

The Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center is a hotel in Tuskegee, Alabama. The Kellogg Conference Center offers state-of-the-art multimedia meeting rooms, as well as a 300-seat auditorium and a ballroom that accommodates up to 350 guests. The Kellogg Conference Center is the only such center on a historically black campus. There are a total of 11 worldwide. Other Kellogg Conference Centers are located at: Michigan State University, Gallaudet University and the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona).

Student activities

More than 100 groups, including Greek letter fraternities and sororities, are active on Tuskegee University's campus.

Tuskegee's students can also participate in dozens of civic organizations, student media groups, service groups, state clubs and honor societies representing virtually every academic discipline.

Students also have the option of developing their own campus organizations with the approval of the Dean of Students.


The baseball program has won thirteen SIAC championships and has produced several professional players, including big-leaguers Leon Wagner, Ken Howell, Alan Mills and Roy Lee Jackson.

The prominence of Tuskegee University football is longstanding as well. Among its records include: 27 SIAC championships; eight national HBCU championships; 70 winning seasons out of 113; 16 undefeated seasons; eight appearances in the Pioneer Bowl (championship match up between the SIAC and CIAA champs) in the bowl's 10 years of existence; 12 other postseason games not including the Pioneer Bowl; 23 NFL pro draft picks; about 40 free agents in the NFL, CFL and Arena football league; first HBCU to win 600 career games.

The Sheridan Broadcasting Network, the national polling agency that ranks black college football programs, recently named Tuskegee the No. 1 football team in the nation. In addition to winning the university's 600th career victory and a national championship, the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee also won their second consecutive SIAC championship, the sixth in the last decade.

With these achievements Tuskegee continues the tradition of being the Winningest Black College Football program in the Nation, being the #2 all time in Wins and Win Percentage in NCAA Division II Football along with being a Top 40 Football program tradition in the South averaging 10.2 wins a season dominating the SIAC Conference with their latest Conference title coming in 2007.

Tuskegee was also the first black college to have a football stadium, Cleve Abbott Memorial Stadium.

Notable faculty and staff

Name Department Notability Reference
George Washington Carver African American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor whose studies and teaching revolutionized agriculture in the Southern United States.
General Daniel "Chappie" James Fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, who in 1975 became the first African American to reach the rank of four star General.
Robert Robinson Taylor First African American graduate of MIT, Architect for most of the Tuskegee campus buildings and founder of trades programs. Also served as second in command to Tuskegee's founder and first President, Dr. Booker T. Washington.
Lamina Sankoh Early Sierra Leonean nationalist politician who taught at Tuskegee in the late 1920s
Booker T. Washington Appointed President for 1881-1915 First Principal of the University

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference
Robert Beck 1970s writer "Iceberg Slim"
Alice Marie Coachman 1942 American athlete who specialized in high jump, and was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal
Ralph Ellison Novelist, literary critic, scholar and writer
Vera King Farris 1959 President of Richard Stockton College of New Jersey from 1983–2003 [1]
General Daniel "Chappie" James 1942 US Air Force Fighter pilot, who in 1975 became the first African American to reach the rank of four star General.
Lonnie Johnson (inventor) Inventor of the Super Soaker and former NASA aerospace engineer
Tom Joyner 1971 American radio host whose daily program, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, is syndicated across the United States and heard by over 10 million radio listeners.
Marion Mann 1940 Former Dean of the College of Medicine at Howard University and US Army Brigadier General (retired)
Claude McKay 1912 Jamaican writer and poet

{{Alum|name=Leo Mortonyear = 1968|nota= Chancellor, U. of Missouri - Kansas City

Albert Murray 1939 Literary and jazz critic, novelist and biographer
Ray Nagin 1978 Mayor of New Orleans
Gertrude Nelson 1929 Military, civilian, and American Red Cross nurse and college administrator from Louisiana
Maurice Richards Rapper Rich Boy, attended the university before he focused on a music career
The Commodores 70s R&B band including musician Lionel Richie
Roderick Royal Acting Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama
Herman J. Russell 1953 Founder and former President & CEO of H. J. Russell Construction Co., the largest minority owned construction company in the nation
Jake Simmons Jr. 1919 Oil broker and civil rights advocate
Danielle Spencer Television actress
Keenan Ivory Wayans Actor, comedian and television producer

Joshua Bernard Austin National President of Black Men Incorporated, a organization started while he was a student at Tuskegee;

Teddy Wilson Jazz pianist

See also


External links

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