History of TSU

A Brief History of Tennessee State



Tennessee State University is a comprehensive urban coeducational land-grant university founded in 1912 in Nashville, Tenn. The present-day Tennessee State University exists as a result of the merger on July 1, 1979 of Tennessee State University and the former University of Tennessee at Nashville.

Through successive stages, TSU has developed from a normal school for Negroes to its current status as a national university with students from 44 states and 38 countries. The 500-acre main campus, with more than 65 buildings, is located in a residential setting. The Avon Williams Campus is located downtown, near the center of the Nashville business and government district.

By virtue of a 1909 Act of the General Assembly, the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School was created, along with two other normal schools in the state of Tennessee, and began serving students on June 19, 1912. William Jasper Hale was appointed as head of the school. In 1922, the institution was raised to the status of a four-year teachers' college and was empowered to grant the bachelor's degree. The first degrees were granted in June 1924. During the same year, the institution became known as the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College. In 1927, "Normal" was dropped from the name of the college.

The General Assembly of 1941 authorized the State Board of Education to upgrade substantially the educational program of the college, which included the establishment of graduate studies leading to the master's degree. Graduate curricula were first offered in several branches of teacher education. The first master's degree was awarded by the college in June 1944.

Accreditation of the institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was first obtained in 1946. In August 1951, the institution was granted university status by approval of the State Board of Education. The reorganization of the institution's educational program included the establishment of the Graduate School, the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Education, and the School of Engineering. Provisions were also made for the later addition of other schools in agriculture, business and home economics.

The university (then known as Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State University) was elevated to a full-fledged land-grant university status by approval of the State Board of Education in August 1958. The Land-Grant University Program, as approved by the State Board of Education included the School of Agriculture & Home Economics, the Graduate School, the Division of Extension and Continuing Education and the Department of Aerospace Studies. In 1968, the state legislature formally dropped "Agricultural & Industrial" from the university's name, which became Tennessee State University. The School of Allied Health Professions and the School of Business were created in 1974. In addition, the School of Nursing was established in 1979. Currently, TSU consists of seven colleges: the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Engineering, Technology & Computer Science, the College of Health Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Public Service & Urban Affairs; and has a School of Graduate Studies and Research.

The University of Tennessee at Nashville began in 1947 as an extension center of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and offered only one year of extension credit until 1960, when it was empowered by the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee to offer two years of resident credit. Authorization was granted to extend this to three years of resident credit in 1963, even though degrees were awarded by the Knoxville unit.

To more fully realize its commitment as a full-function evening university, the UT-Nashville campus became a full-fledged, four-year degree-granting institution in 1971 upon successfully meeting the requirements for accreditation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. During the same year, the General Assembly sanctioned the institution as a bona fide campus of the University of Tennessee, and the new university occupied its quarters in the building at the corner of 10th and Charlotte Avenues in downtown Nashville.

It was the erection of the above-mentioned building which gave rise to the decades-long litigation to "dismantle the dual system" of higher education in Tennessee. The litigation resulted in the merger of both institutions (ordered by Judge Frank Gray in February 1977), resulting in an expansion of the present-day Tennessee State University as a Tennessee Board of Regents institution.

Today, TSU continues to offer 45 bachelor's degrees, 24 master's degrees and awards doctoral degrees in seven areas: biological sciences, computer information systems engineering, psychology, public administration, curriculum and instruction, administration and supervision, and physical therapy.

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