On July 4th, 1881, Tuskegee University was established in the midst of a difficult election. W.F. Foster, a former Confederate Colonel and Democratic candidate for state senate, asked Lewis Adams to help him secure the African-American vote. As a former slave and community leader in their predominately-black county, Adams only wanted one thing in exchange for his support: a college for African-American students.
Their political deal transformed the lives of millions of Americans, from the collegiates who walked through Tuskegee’s hallowed halls to the men and women who owed their lives to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. Today, TU is known for its distinguished undergraduate and graduate degree programs (such as the Tuskegee University Vet School), athletics department, and Marching Crimson Piper Band, which is the oldest HBCU marching band in the nation.
Kresge Center, 3rd Floor, Tuskegee, Alabama 36088-1920
Phone: (334) 727-8011
Type: 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Colors: Crimson and Gold
Motto: Knowledge, Leadership, Service
Campus housing: Yes
Student population: 3,140 (as of 2017)
- Campus Events: Homecoming, Mr. and Miss Tuskegee University, Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic, & Founders Day Convocation
- Greek Organizations: Yes
- Tuskegee College Mascot: The Golden Tigers
- Athletic Association: NCAA Division II—SAIC
- Athletic Programs: Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Cross Country, Tennis, Football, Track & Field, & Volleyball
Tuskegee, AL & The Tuskegee University Campus
Tuskegee University is located in Tuskegee, Alabama, within driving distance of Montgomery, Birmingham, and Atlanta, Georgia. Students can travel to events in any of the cities surrounding Tuskegee, or enjoy the natural and historic beauty of the school itself. With landmarks like The Oaks (Booker T. Washington’s former home), Morton Field, and the George Washington Carver Museum, it’s no wonder that the Tuskegee University campus has also been named as a National Historic Site.
Tuskegee University History
Tuskegee University was founded in 1881, when W.F. Foster won the election for Alabama State Senate with the support of Lewis Adams (an African-American community leader) and the constituents that he rallied to his cause. In exchange for their votes, Foster pushed legislation to create the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers.
With the aid of Booker T. Washington, who left his position as a Hampton Institute teacher to become the principal of the new school, the student population grew from a small contingent of local students to an international community of African descent. As Washington secured the patronage of philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and George Eastman, the school grew as well; from 1881 to his passing in 1915, the Tuskegee University address changed from a rundown church to a 100-acre campus in the same community.
During the 20th Century, the school became known for the groundbreaking accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen and disastrous implications of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. But through it all, Tuskegee University was still dedicated to its first (and most important) mission: the education and edification of African-American students.
Tuskegee University Academics
Now, thousands of students apply to Tuskegee University every year! TU is known for its distinguished undergraduate and graduate programs, from the engineering department that has been ranked as one of the best in the nation by US News and World Report to the Tuskegee University Vet School for qualified graduate students. To this day, Tuskegee University is the only historically black college or university to offer the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.); it also produces 75% of the African-American vets in the world.
Tuskegee University Athletics
The TU athletics department has a wide range of NCAA Division II sports programs. In addition to Tuskegee University football, students can participate in basketball, baseball, softball, cross country, tennis, track & field, and volleyball; many of these sporting events are held in the Cleveland Leigh Abbott Memorial Alumni Stadium.
Tuskegee University Notable Alumni
Tuskegee University’s notable alumni include:
- Lionel Richie was born and raised in Tuskegee, Alabama, where he attended university as a tennis player, marching band member, and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brother. After he graduated from Tuskegee University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, he went on to become a world-renowned singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer.
- Roosevelt Williams was regarded as one of the top five quarterbacks in the nation when he played on the Tuskegee University football team. He was drafted to the Chicago Bears in 2002, and had a successful career in the NFL.
- Alice Coachman earned her degree from the Tuskegee Institute in 1946, and eventually became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal.
Sources: Tuskegee University