Southern University and A&M College is a historically black college located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Baton Rouge campus is located on Scott’s Bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in the northern section of the City of Baton Rouge. The city parish has a population of more than 500,000 and serves as a cultural, political, educational, and industrial center for South Louisiana. The campus encompasses 512 acres, with an agricultural experimental station on an additional 372-acre site, located five miles north of the main campus. The University is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
The concept of Southern University was put forth by P. B. S. Pinchback, T. T. Allain, Henry Demas, and as an institution "for the education of persons of color" at the 1879 Louisiana State Constitutional Convention. In April 1880, the Louisiana General Assembly chartered Southern University, originally located in New Orleans. Southern opened its doors on March 7, 1881 (1881-03-07) with twelve students. One of the original locations of the early campus was the former Israel Sinai Temple on Calliope Street, between St. Charles and Camp streets in New Orleans. Southern became a land grant school in 1890, and an Agricultural and Mechanical department was established. Because of continued growth and a lack of land for expansion, the university relocated to what was then Scotlandville, along Scott's Bluff facing the Mississippi River in 1914. It is included as a destination of the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.
The new president and first president of what is now known as Southern University at Baton Rouge was Dr. Joseph Samuel Clark. Clark, an outstanding citizen in the Baton Rouge African American community, presided over Baton Rouge College and the Louisiana Colored Teachers Association. The Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1921 authorized the reorganization and expansion of Southern University; and Legislative Act 100 of 1922 provided that the institution be reorganized under the control of the State Board of Education. Clark presided over Southern University during a transitionary period for the institution. The student enrollment grew from forty-seven students to 500 students and many of the school's early buildings were built during this time. Clark presided until his retirement in 1938, at which time the position was given to his son, Dr. Felton Grandison Clark, a renowned speaker and gentleman. Under his tenure, the university underwent tremendous growth. About 33 of 114 current buildings were erected in his 30 years at the university. The student enrollment grew from 500 to nearly 10,000 students. Due to the reluctance of LSU Law School to admit African Americans into its law program, and a lawsuit that was filed, a special Louisiana Convention allowed a law program, Southern University Law Center to come to Southern University in 1947. The university was one of the first historically black colleges to receive a visit from a First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1943. Also during Clark's tenure, Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) (1956) and Southern University at Shreveport/Bossier City (SUSLA) (1964) were founded. They were later incorporated into the Southern University System in 1974.
In 1969, the university saw a changing of the guard, when Clark retired and Dr. Leon G. Netterville took over the reins of leadership. On November 16, 1972, two students involved with "Students United", a student protest group on the campus, Denver Smith and Leonard Brown, were shot and killed outside the Old Auditorium (now the Southern University Museum of Art). The murders have never been solved.
The institution continued to grow, and in 1974 a special session in the Louisiana Legislature established the Southern University System, with Jesse N. Stone of Shreveport as its president. The Southern University System consists of Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, (SUBR); Southern University, New Orleans (SUNO); Southern University Law Center; Southern University Agricultural Center; and Southern University, Shreveport (SUSLA is a two-year, commuter college). The Southern University Museum of Art at Shreveport is another destination of the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.
The Jetson Chair of Public Policy was endowed by former State Representative Kevin P. Reilly, Sr., and his wife, Anna Lamar Switzer Reilly of Baton Rouge. Reilly is the former CEO of Lamar Advertising Company, a company now run by his two sons, Kevin Reilly, Jr., and Sean E. Reilly. The first season of the reality television series College Hill on BET premiered in 2004 with the Southern University campus as its locale.
Lake Kernan flows through the center of the campus and the Mississippi River forms its western boundary. Since 1960, buildings containing more than 2,000,000 square feet of floor area have been constructed. These buildings include:
The Smith-Brown Memorial Union, a 66,200-square feet multipurpose building which serves as a major center for extracurricular activities. The recently renovated Union features a 6 food court with popular food outlets; barber and beauty shops; television rooms; 12 bowling lanes; a game room for billiards, video games, and quiet games; an art gallery; a browsing room; a ballroom, meeting and conference rooms; and a U.S. Post Office. The building also houses offices for student organizations.
The F. G. Clark Activity Center has accommodations for theater, athletic events, conferences, convocations, and recreational activities. The building houses the Athletic Department.
The J. S. Clark Administration Building contains the offices of the Southern University Board of Supervisors, the Southern University System officers, the Chancellor of the Baton Rouge campus, and other campus administrative officers.
E. N. Mayberry Dining Hall contains the Magnolia Room, the Cypress Room, and the Oak Room, which is for student dining. Dunn Cafeteria is located in the Freshman Complex.
Southern University main campus offers bachelors in 44 areas, 24 master's and 6 doctoral and one associate degree.
Master of Arts
Master of Business Administration
Master of Science
Master of Education
Master of Criminal Justice
Master of Public Administration
Master of Science in Nursing
Master of Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
All Southern University programs are accredited and also are monitored by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
The Southern Jaguars and Lady Jaguars represent the university in NCAA intercollegiate athletics. Southern's sports teams participate in Division I (FCS for football) in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Southern University and its northern Louisiana SWAC rival, Grambling State University, annually participate in the Bayou Classic on the Saturday following Thanksgiving Day in New Orleans. NBC has carried the game live for over 20 years. In 2011, Southern became the first school handed a postseason ban in two sports (basketball and football) for failing to meet the NCAA's academic progress rate requirements.
Southern's other most notable SWAC rivals include Jackson State and Texas Southern.
The Southern University marching band, nicknamed the "Human Jukebox", has been featured in television commercials, music videos and invited to participate in the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, Presidential Inauguration ceremonies and 4 Super Bowl halftime presentations. The band was also featured in the music video for the Jonas Brothers song, "Pom Poms". In 2008, The band was named "Best Dressed Marching Band" by FashionNews.com, and named "#1 Band In The Nation" by USA Today. The band is well known for their powerful sound in the stands, precise, high stepping, and entertaining drills on the field, and as being the only HBCU marching band to feature one drum major during performances.The band also accompanied musical group Celtic Song in their Baton Rouge installment of their award-winning Songs from the Heart Tour. One of the most notable performances being "The Voice" with Pernell Parker.