Oakwood University is a private university located in Huntsville, Alabama, United States. It is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A group of College constituents made the decision on December 2, 2007, to change the school's name from Oakwood College to Oakwood University.
Oakwood University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Department of Education of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to award the associate, baccalaureate, and master's degrees. The first master's degree offered by the University was the Master of Pastoral Studies Degree (January 2008). The first graduate students were conferred degrees on May 9, 2009. Oakwood also conferred its first honorary doctorate on May 9, 2009, to Wintley Phipps, internationally renowned musician and the 2009 Commencement speaker. Oakwood University has been a member institution of the United Negro College Fund since 1964.
The University has performed well in external rankings, having listed among the Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the Southern Region (#31) and #28 on the list of Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities by the U.S. News & World Report, tied with Alabama A&M University (also in Huntsville) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The University is also listed on a regular basis among the top 20 institutions of higher learning that provide African-Americans to medical schools.
Oakwood University owns and operates the Christian radio station WJOU 90.1 FM, formerly WOCG.
Oakwood University was founded in 1896 as Oakwood Industrial School. Legend has it that the school was named for a stand of oak trees found on the campus.
The school first opened in 1896 with 16 students. Classes were offered in various trades and skills. In 1904, the name was changed to Oakwood Manual Training School, and it was chartered to grant degrees in 1907. In 1917, the school offered its first instruction at the postsecondary level, and in that same year it changed its name to Oakwood Junior College. In 1944, the name Oakwood College was adopted. The first bachelor’s degrees were awarded in 1945. Oakwood College received its initial accreditation from SACS in 1958, and in 2007, the college received approval to award graduate degrees. In response to this higher accreditation, the school's Board of Trustees and constituents voted to change the name of the institution again to Oakwood University of Seventh-day Adventists.
Oakwood University owns 1,185 acres (5 km2) in Huntsville, Alabama. The main campus consists of 23 buildings spread across 105 acres (0.4 km2). Another 500 acres (2 km²) under cultivation. Building developments are continuing. The J. L. Moran Hall, completed in 1944 and named after the first black president of Oakwood, stands with more recently erected buildings such as the McKee Business & Technology Complex, completed in 2002.
The institution also houses a branch office of the Ellen G. White Estate.
The Bradford-Cleveland-Brooks (BCB) Leadership Center which opened in October 2007 houses a training center for evangelists and ministers as well as provide additional classroom space for the Department of Religion and Theology. This building is also home to the classes for the first master's degree program for the university (Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Studies). The newly completed Holland Hall will accommodate about 300 males, primarily freshmen, and will house its first students in the 2008-2009 school year.
Students at Oakwood, or "Oakwoodites" as they are sometimes called, either live on campus in any of the five residence halls/areas, rent an apartment from the school's own West Oaks Apartment Complex, or live off-campus in the surrounding area. Oakwood is a boarding institution, and any student under the age of 22 not living with an immediate family member over age 22 in the area is required to live on campus. Freshmen males live in the Holland Hall dormitory, which is a new residence hall for freshmen males and selected upperclass males, while freshmen women live in Carter Hall. There are two more residential complexes for women: Wade Hall and the Annex are for senior female students. Edwards Hall is the dormitory for senior male students. Two additional dormitories, Peterson Hall and Cunningham Hall, are currently vacant and awaiting renovation.
Degrees awarded by the Department of Biological Sciences are Biology (B.S.), Biology Education (B.S.), Biomedical Sciences (B.S.), and Natural Science (B.S.). The curriculum is designed for those students desiring to enter graduate, medical, dental, or allied health schools, as well as for those planning to teach in elementary or secondary schools. Oakwood’s pre-medical/dental and pre-graduate programs provide their students with funded opportunities to perform extramural laboratory research at many well-known research universities.
Degrees awarded by the Department of Chemistry are Biochemistry (B.S.), Biochemistry Professional (B.S.), Chemistry (B.S.), Chemistry Professional (B.S.), Chemical Engineering (B.S.), Chemistry Education (B.S.), Cytotechnology (B.S.), Medical Technology (B.S.), Pre-Physical Therapy (B.S.), Pre-Occupational Therapy (A.S.), Pre-Physician Assistant (A.S.), and Pre-Speech-Language Pathology (A.S.).
The Department of Religion & Theology became the first department to offer graduate degrees in 2008. Currently, degrees in Theology (B.A.) [Pastoral/Evangelistic Ministry, or Pre-Counseling/Pre-Chaplaincy Ministry], Religious Education (B.S.), and Pastoral Studies (M.A.) are offered.
Adventist Colleges Abroad is a program that allows Oakwood students to spend time studying at Adventist universities outside of the United States while earning credit for the degree they are pursuing at Oakwood. Some of the colleges participating in this program are in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, France, Spain, Austria, Italy, Greece, Germany, Ukraine, Thailand, and Japan. Most Oakwood students study in Argentina, France, Mexico, Spain, and Greece.
Oakwood University is committed to the spiritual nurture and character development of each student with the goal of ‘developing servant leaders’. The Office of Spiritual Life, in conjunction with the Oakwood University Church, the USM, and the residence halls offers numerous programs and services for spiritual enrichment including weekly chapel services, Sabbath church service, Adventist Youth Society, residence hall worships, student missionary program, and club and outreach activities. The institution extends to each student the opportunity to participate in the Literature Evangelism Training Center (LETC) program. This program is designed to assist in helping students acquire scholarships for tuition and spread the Gospel in print to a world in need of a Savior.
Basketball and football are the major sports on campus, with intramural basketball activities taking place during the spring semesters. The school's basketball teams are the Oakwood Ambassadors and Lady Ambassadors. The Ambassadors male basketball team won the 2008 National Championship for the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) in March. This school year was also the team's first year as part of the league. The Ambassadors won their second USCAA National Championship in March 2012.
The Aeolians, Oakwood University's premier touring ensemble, was founded in 1946 by former professor, Dr. Eva B. Dykes. This choir has 45-60 members from various disciplines, and the group travel nationally and internationally as musical ambassadors for the University. The choir has visited Romania, Great Britain, Poland, Jamaica, and Bermuda among other locations. The group has also performed at the White House for President Bill Clinton and at the Kennedy Center, both in Washington, D.C. The current conductor of the ensemble is Jason Max Ferdinand, M.M., a graduate of Oakwood University and Morgan State University and a former Aeolian. He is also the current conductor of the Oakwood University Choir. Other musical ensembles on campus include gospel choirs Dynamic Praise, Voices of Triumph, the group Serenity winners of the First Season of "Making The Group" reality show competition. Oakwood University is known for its legacy of great music. In 2010, Oakwood's group, "Committed" won the national competition The Sing-off. Take 6
At the 2008 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament in Orlando, Florida, Oakwood University team members brought home the trophy. This competition featured 64 teams from historically black colleges and universities around the nation. In addition to winning the championship, Oakwood University received a grant of $50,000 from the American Honda Motor Company. Both the quiz bowl and basketball teams adjusted their playing schedules to not play on Saturday, the day observed as the Sabbath (Oakwood University is a Seventh-day Adventist institution), and both teams still emerged as champions over Alcorn State University. At the 2009 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament, the team, led by captain Alesis Turner, returned to once again be named the champions (the team played in the final rounds against North Carolina Central University). The school joins Tuskegee University, Florida A&M University, and Morehouse College, as the only schools to win back-to-back championships at HCASC.
Amber Bullock- winner of BETs Sunday's Best
Two books have been written about the history of Oakwood: Oakwood! A Vision Splendid and A Place Called Oakwood: