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Albany State University (1903- )

Albany State University is a historically black university in Albany, Georgia. It was founded in 1903 by Joseph Winthrop Holley, a native of South Carolina.  This son of former slaves was inspired by the writings of W.E.B. DuBois to try to improve conditions for the South’s African American population by offering industrial and religious education. The first incarnation of the school was the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute, and initially the school‘s goal was to offer primary and secondary education and to train teachers. In 1917, the school gained state funding and a board of trustees and was renamed the Georgia Normal and Agricultural College.  Also in 1917 it began offering two year post-secondary degrees.

In 1932 the school gained affiliation with the Georgia University System and in 1943 the school’s name was again changed, this time to Albany State College. This name change marked the development of the school into a four year university.  The same year Albany State College awarded its first baccalaureate degree. In 1996 the institution adopted its current name in recognition of the school’s autonomous graduate programs.

Albany, Georgia was a focus of struggle of the early civil rights movement in the 1960s. The desegregation campaign that resulted in mass arrests of civil rights protestors included many students from Albany State University, along with civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The very first two protesters arrested, Blanton Hall and Bertha Gober, were Albany State students, and when they were expelled from school many in the student body sharply criticized the college administration.

The school has remained relatively small. In 1993 it had about 2,300 students.  It continues to focus on training teachers. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education ranked ASU third in the nation for bachelor’s degrees in education awarded to African American undergraduates in 2010. As a liberal arts school, the school also offers 35 diverse undergraduate majors, and master’s programs in

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