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Coordinates: 33°12′43″N 87°32′46″W 33.2118615, -87.5460255


University of Alabama

  • Location & Contact Information
    • Address, Directions, & Map:
      • Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States of America
    • Telephone Numbers: (205) 348-6010
    • Official Website: [1]
  • History & Memorable Moments

In 1818, Congress authorized the newly-created Alabama Territory to set aside a township for the establishment of a "seminary of learning." When Alabama was admitted to the Union on December 14, 1819, a second township was added to the land grant, bringing it to a total of 46,000 acres (186 km²). The General Assembly of Alabama established the seminary on December 18, 1820, named it "The University of the State of Alabama," and created a Board of Trustees to manage the construction and operation of the university. The board chose as the site of the campus a place which was then just outside the city limits of Tuscaloosa, the state capital at the time. The University's charter was presented to the first University president in the nave of nearby Christ Episcopal Church. Alabama opened its doors to students on April 18, 1831, with the Reverend Alva Woods as President. [1]

An academy-style institution during the Antebellum period, the university emphasized the classics and the social and natural sciences. There were around 100 students per year at the University in the 1830s. However, as Alabama was a frontier state and a sizable amount of its territory was still in the hand of various Native American tribes until the 1840s, it lacked the infrastructure to adequately prepare students for the rigors of university education. Consequently, only a fraction of students who enrolled were adequately prepared for a university education and few students graduated, especially in the early years. Those who did graduate often had distinguished careers in Alabama and national politics. Early graduates included Benjamin Porter and Alexander Meek. [1]

There was an active literary culture on campus and in Tuscaloosa. The University had one of the largest libraries in the country on the eve of the Civil War at more than 5000 volumes. There were several thriving literary societies, including the Erosophic and the Phi Beta Kappa societies, which frequently had lectures by distinguished politicians and literary figures, including United States Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell, novelist William Gilmore Simms, and Professor F.A.P. Barnard (later president of Columbia University). [1]

Discipline and student behavior was a major issue at The University almost from the day it opened. Early presidents attempted to enforce strict rules regarding conduct. Students were prohibited from drinking, swearing, making unauthorized visits off-campus, or playing musical instruments outside of a one-hour time frame. Yet riots and gunfights were not an uncommon occurrence. To combat the severe discipline problem, president Landon Garland lobbied and received approval from the legislature in 1860 to transform the university into a military school. As such, many of the cadets who graduated from the school went on to serve as officers in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As a consequence of that role, Union troops burned down the campus in April 1865, which was unrelated to Sherman's March to the Sea several months earlier and farther east, in Georgia. Only four buildings survived the burning, including the President's Mansion built in 1841 and the Gorgas House built in 1829 (the oldest building on campus). [1]

The University reopened in 1871 and in 1880, Congress granted The University 40,000 acres (162 km²) of coal land in partial compensation for $250,000 in war damages. The military structure was dropped approximately a decade after the school was officially opened to women in 1892 after much lobbying by Julia Tutwiler to the Board of Trustees. Tutwiler Hall is now the largest female-only dorm on campus. [1]

On June 11, 1963, contrary to the wishes of University administrators[citation needed], Governor George Wallace made his infamous "stand in the schoolhouse door." He stood in the front entrance of Foster Auditorium in a symbolic attempt to stop the enrollment of two African Americans: Vivian Malone and James Hood. When confronted by U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and federal marshals sent in by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Wallace stepped aside. Although Hood dropped out of school after two months, he subsequently returned and, in 1997, received his Ph.D. in philosophy. Malone persisted in her studies and became the first African American to graduate from The University. In 2000, The University granted her a doctorate of humane letters. Later in his life, Wallace apologized for his opposition at that time to racial integration. [1]

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    • Black, Tony Lee (June 1996 - May 1998)
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    • Robicheaux, Robert (August 1977 - Present)
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