Albany State University is a four-year, state-supported, historically black university (HBCU) located in Albany, Georgia, United States. It is one of three HBCU's in the University System of Georgia. ASU is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Joseph Winthrop Holley, born in 1874 to former slaves in Winnsboro, South Carolina, founded the institution in 1903 as the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute. Two educators, Reverend Samuel Loomis and his wife, sent Holley to Brainerd Institute and then Revere Lay College (Massachusetts). While attending Revere Lay, Holley got to know one of the school's trustees, New England businessman Rowland Hazard. After taking a liking to Holley, Hazard arranged for him to continue his education at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Holley aspired to become a minister and prepared by completing his education at Pennsylvania's Lincoln University.
W. E. B. Du Bois inspired Holley to return to the South after he read Du Bois's writings on the plight of Albany's blacks in The Souls of Black Folk. Holley relocated to Albany to start a school. With the help of a $2,600 gift from the Hazard family, Holley organized a board of trustees and purchased 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land for the campus, all within a year. The aim of the institution at the time was to provide elementary education and teacher training for the local Black population. It was turned over to the state of Georgia in 1917 as Georgia Normal and Agricultural College, a two-year agricultural and teacher-training institution.
In 1932, the school became part of the University System of Georgia and in 1943 it was granted four-year status and renamed Albany State College. The transition to four-year status heavily increased the school's enrollment. In 1981 the college offered its first graduate program, a prelude to the school being upgraded to university status in 1996.
Holley served as President of the school from 1903–1943. He was succeeded by Aaron Brown (1943–1954), William Dennis (1954–1965), Thomas Miller Jenkins (1965–1969), Charles Hayes (1969–1980), Billy C. Black (1980–1996), Portia Holmes Shields (1996–2005), and Everette J. Freeman (2005 – present)
The college played a significant role in the American Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s. Many students from the school, Black improvement organizations, and representatives from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came together to create the Albany Movement. The movement brought prominent civil rights leaders to the town including Martin Luther King Jr. The movement resulted in the arrests of more than 1,000 black protestors. Among the very first to be arrested were students from Albany State. On November 22, 1961, Blanton Hall and Bertha Gober entered the white waiting room of the Albany bus station to buy tickets home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Refusing to leave after being ordered to do so, police arrested them both. Albany State president William Dennis, fearful of losing his position, immediately suspended and eventually expelled the students. This action engendered a great deal of animosity from the black community and the student body. Gober would continue in the civil rights movement as one of the SNCC's Freedom Singers and write the group's anthem. Bernice Johnson Reagon, another Albany State student who left school to work with the SNCC, would later form the well-known a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock. On December 10, 2011, thirty two of the students who were expelled were granted honorary degrees. The school awarded thirty one honorary baccalaureate degrees and one honorary doctorate – that to Bernice Johnson Reagon. A noted cultural historian, Reagon was also the commencement speaker.
In July 1996 the university system's Board of Regents approved a name change, and the school officially became Albany State University. Today Albany State University continues to provide a wide range of educational opportunities to the residents of southwest Georgia. The school participates in an engineering transfer program and a dual degree program with the Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the top engineering schools in the nation. Then President, Portia Shields created the Holley Institute summer program, which consists of an intense four weeks of study to help high school students improve low SAT scores and gain admission to college. The program has a near 100 percent success rate and has received praise from the state Board of Regents. Albany State also has the third highest student retention rate in the university system. A new stadium was opened in 2004, and new housing units opened in 2006.
Academics and demographics
Albany State offers undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and professional degree programs.
According to U.S. News & World Report, ASU is number 32 out of 36 ranked in the magazine’s ranking of undergraduate education at HBCUs. It is ranked as a 2nd tier school on the Regional Universities (South) list.
Today the Albany State University student body consists of both traditional and non-traditional students who make up the more than 4,000 student population. These students come primarily from Atlanta, southwest and central Georgia, other US states and many foreign countries. The average student age is 24 and about 40 percent of the students live in on-campus housing.
The Graduate school degree programs include: Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Educational Leadership(M.Ed&Ed.S), English Education, Health and Physical Education, Mathematics Education, Middle Grades Education, Music Education, Nursing, Public Administration, School Counseling, Science Education, and Special Education.
Albany State offers more than 30 undergraduate degree programs and six advanced degrees. The university also offers the Board of Regents' engineering transfer program and the dual degree program in engineering with Georgia Tech. Today, Albany State University provides innovative instructional and professional programs through its five academic schools: Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Nursing and Allied Health Sciences and the Graduate School. The University serves 24 counties in the Southwest Georgia area with graduate and undergraduate courses in more than 30 fields.
There are over 59 clubs and organizations including bands, choirs, religious groups, honor societies, several major Greek and honor sororities and fraternities, and ROTC.
All nine of the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations currently have chapters at Albany State University. These organizations are:
Three of the music organizations currently have chapters at Albany State University. These organizations are:
Albany State's Marching Band participated in the 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and will participate in the 2014Honda Battle of the Bands (HBOB).
Albany State University holds membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II (as a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) and participates in the following sports: football, basketball, baseball, cheerleading, volleyball, cross-country and track and field.
Albany State sponsored men and women's swimming and diving teams in past years and were named National Black College Swimming and Diving Champions in 1979 and 1980.
This is a list of notable alumni which includes graduates, non-graduate former students, and current students of Albany State University. It also reflects those alumni who attended and/or graduated from the institution under its prior historical names.