In 1880, a bill, which included a yearly appropriation of $2,000, was passed by the Alabama State Legislature to establish a school for blacks in Macon County. This action was generated by two men-Lewis Adams, a former slave, and George W. Campbell, a former slave owner-who saw the need for the education of black people in this rural Alabama locale.
This bill was signed by Governor Rufus Willis Cobb, and became law on February 12, 1881, thus establishing Tuskegee Normal School for the training of Black teachers. Further, a three-man commission was established to serve as the governing board for the school, and was authorized to recruit and hire a teacher. After considerable recruiting efforts, the commissioners employed Booker T. Washington, who opened the school on July 4, 1881; thus, Tuskegee University was born as Tuskegee Normal School. Thirty men and women from Macon and neighboring counties gathered on the first day to attend Alabama’s most distinctive normal school for the training of black teachers.
In 1882, Dr. Washington contracted to buy a 100 acre abandoned plantation, which became the nucleus of Tuskegee’s present campus. He began a program of self- help which permitted students to live on the campus and earn all or part of their expenses by helping to construct the campus, including making their own brick.
Dr. Washington soon envisioned the development of a greater institution with a diversity of program offerings. However, he also realized that such growth and development could not be nurtured by state funding alone, and that financial support from beyond state borders would be essential to fulfilling his dreams. As a result, the Alabama Legislature, by Act No. 71 passed in 1892, reconstituted and established Tuskegee Normal Institute as a public body and corporation of the State of Alabama with full power of action and authority vested in a board of trustees. Henceforth, Tuskegee could assume the characteristics of a private institution for developmental reasons while continuing partially as a state supported institution.
Dr. Washington died November 14, 1915, at Tuskegee, and was buried on the campus near the Chapel. At the time of his death, the foundation had been laid for a strong Tuskegee Institute. Its endowment amounted to approximately $2 million and its students numbered 1500. Tuskegee was founded as Tuskegee Normal in 1881, re-designated Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in 1893, changed to Tuskegee Institute in 1937 and renamed Tuskegee University in 1985.
Tuskegee’s enrollment includes students who represent most states of the United States and a number of foreign countries.
Institutional Mission and Purpose
Tuskegee University is a national, independent, and coeducational institution of higher learning that has a historically unique relationship with the State of Alabama. The University has distinctive strengths in the sciences, architecture, business, engineering, health and other professions, all structured on solid foundations in the liberal arts. In addition, the University’s programs focus on nurturing the development of high-order intellectual and moral qualities among students and stresses the connection between education and the leadership Americans need for highly trained leaders in general, especially for the work force of the 21st Century and beyond. The results we seek are students whose technical, scientific and professional qualities have not been not only rigorously honed, but also sensitively orientated in ways that make the public-spirited graduates who are both competent and have a strong commitment to public service and to excellence.
The University is rooted in a history of successfully educating Black Americans to understand themselves against the background of their total heritage and the promise of their individual and collective future. The most important of the people we serve are our students. Our overall purpose is to nurture and challenge them to grow to their fullest potential. Serving their needs is the principal reason for our existence. And a major outcome we seek is to prepare them to play effective professional and leadership roles in society and to become productive citizens in the national and world community. Tuskegee University continues to be dedicated to these broad aims.
Over the past century, various social and historical changes have transformed this institution into a comprehensive and diverse place of learning whose fundamental purpose is to develop leadership, knowledge, and service for a global society. Committed deeply to academic excellence, the University admits highly talented students and challenges them to reach their highest potential. The University also believes strongly in equality of opportunity and recognizes that exquisite talent is often hidden in students whose finest development requires unusual educational, personal and financial reinforcement. The University actively invites a diversity of talented students, staff, and faculty from all racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds to participate in this educational enterprise.
Special Elements of the University’s Mission
- We focus on education as a continuing process and lifelong endeavor for all people.
- We provide a high quality core experience in the liberal arts.
- We develop superior technical, scientific, and professional education with a career orientation.
- We stress the relationship between education and employment, between what students learn and the changing needs of a global workforce.
- We preserve, refine, and develop further the bodies of knowledge already discovered.
- We discover new knowledge for the continued growth of individuals and society and for the enrichment of the University’s instructional and service programs.
- We develop applications of knowledge to help resolve problems of modern society.
- We serve the global society as well as the regional and campus community and beyond through the development of outreach programs that are compatible with the University’s educational mission, that improve understanding of community problems, and help develop relevant alternative solutions.
- We engage in outreach activities to assist in the development of communities as learning societies.
Land Grant Mission
The above three elements of mission, together with certain acts of the United States Congress and the State of Alabama, define Tuskegee University as a land grant institution. Originally focused primarily in agriculture, the University’s land-grant function currently is a generic one that embraces a wide spectrum of liberal arts, scientific, technical, and professional programs.
A strong liberal arts program with a general education curriculum is provided for all undergraduate students, enabling them to prepare for the mastery of the humanities, the behavioral science, the life and physical sciences, technical and professional major areas. The more specific aims of the undergraduate program are to:
- present the process of education as a lifelong enterprise and the development of lifelong learning capabilities whose purpose is the improvement of self and society;
- insure that students have a strong grasp of the higher order skills of problem solving, critical thinking, analysis and synthesis, as well as of creative and expressive abilities, including mathematics and written and oral language usage;
- deepen students’ knowledge of history and the cultural heritage and our global connectedness;
- strengthen students sense of civic and social responsibilities;
- help students understand and appreciate the importance of moral and spiritual values to enable them not only to pursue careers successfully, but to lead lives that are personally satisfying, socially responsible, and spiritually mature and enriched;
- equip students with excellent research interests and capabilities, effective communication and analytical skills and strong commitments to the professions and to the broad and ever-changing leadership and workforce needs of our society and the world.
Graduate and Professional Programs
The University provides graduate level instruction as well as research and training in post baccalaureate professional fields. These programs seek to develop in students the ability to engage in independent and scholarly inquiry, a mastery of certain professional disciplines, a capacity to make original contributions to various bodies of knowledge, and the commitment and competencies to teach others. Graduate degrees are offered only in selected fields of University strength and opportunity.
Tuskegee University accomplishes its central purpose of developing leadership, knowledge, and service through its undergraduate, graduate, professional, research and outreach programs. Through these programs, students are encouraged not only to pursue careers but to be of service to society and to remain active lifetime learners. The University seeks to instill a robust thirst for knowledge and a vibrant quest for wholesome patterns of personal and social ethics that have philosophical and spiritual depth. In the process, it seeks to help each student develop an appreciation for the finer traits of human personality, the beauty of the earth and the universe, and a personal commitment to the improvement of the human condition.
Institutional Core Values
The mission statement of Tuskegee University explicitly identifies intellectual, cognitive, affective, and moral dimensions of learning which we regard as essential to the fullest development of contemporary students. These aspects of our students’ education also reflect, however, implicit core values which have emerged out of historical developments at Tuskegee and which are a part of its heritage. More than a gloss on “mission”, the following statements of “Institutional Core Values” describe a consonance we aspire to achieve between explicit and contemporary, and implicit and historical values-all of which define the unique institutional “Character” of Tuskegee University.
We believe in Tuskegee University as a community which fosters among its members:
- Personal qualities of honesty, self-reliance, hard work, courage, prudence, abstinence from harmful drugs or alcoholic abuse, tenacity, self- respect, thrift and the habit of saving for future needs;
- Societal values of equality, human dignity and of service and responsibility to others; understanding and acceptance of human diversity in all its wholesome aspects; mutual respect and trust; concern and care for others; teamwork and collaboration, and the entrepreneurial spirit of reasonable risk-taking and investing with integrity to build economic security for self and for society.
- Intellectual and moral attributes of curiosity and creativity; objectivity, openness and rigor in scholarly inquiry; integrity and truthfulness; an excellence of mind and personal character; love of knowledge and of learning.
- Individual and collective initiative and enterprise; innovations in response to changing circumstances and opportunities.
- Faith in God, appreciation of our African-American heritage and traditions of the wider cultural legacy of all humankind, love of our country–America–imperfect though it is; belief in human equality, including the equality and the potential of Black people everywhere; confidence in the power of human vision and aspiration, sustained and nourished by Divine inspiration as interpreted by the our own religious traditions Judeo-Christian faith and respect for the great classical religions of the world as well as each individual’s right to hold his/her own unique religious vision.
- A commitment to making these visions, virtues and values the fundamental and pervasive reality in all aspects of the daily relationships among students, faculty, staff and other constituencies of our Tuskegee University Community.