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Tuskegee University

a private, historically black college located on 5,000 acres in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tuskegee University

Tuskegee offers a total of 49 degrees (39 Bachelor's, 13 Master's, 2 Doctor's of Philosophy) in five colleges -- Agricultural, Environmental and Natural Sciences; Business and Information Services; Engineering, Architecture and Physical Sciences; Liberal Arts and Education; Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health. Tuskegee is also home to the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care, the nation's first bioethics center devoted to engaging the sciences, humanities, law and religious faiths in the exploration of the core moral issues which underlie research and medical treatment of African-Americans and other underserved people. It opened two years after President Bill Clinton apologized on behalf of the nation for the federal government's use of 399 poor African-American sharecroppers in a study on the treatment and natural history of syphilis, most of them without their knowledge, from 1932 to 1972.


Tuskegee was the brainchild of Lewis Adams, a former slave, and George W. Campbell, a former slave owner. Adams could read, write and speak several languages despite having no formal education, and was an acknowledged leader of the African-American community in Macon County. He was concerned that former slaves would be unable to support themselves if they were not educated; Campbell agreed and contributed what resources he could to make Adams' dream come true.

The dream became reality when W.F. Foster, a white candidate for the Alabama Senate, asked Adams what he would want in return for the black vote in Macon County. Adams said he wanted a normal (teaching) school for free men and freed slaves. After Foster and fellow candidate Arthur L. Brooks were elected they followed through on their promise and got legislation passed authorizing $2,000 to create the school. An organizing committee was formed, which hired Booker T. Washington, a former slave, to be the school's first president; Washington would hold that position until his death in 1915.

Booker T. Washington

Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School opened in space borrowed from a church on July 4, 1881. The following year Washington bought the grounds of a former plantation, and the campus remains on that site to this day. The first buildings were constructed by students, many of whom were paid with a free education. In 1892 the Alabama Legislature passed a law giving the Institute the right to act independent of the State of Alabama.

The famed Tuskegee Airmen were formed here in 1941.

The Tuskegee campus was declared a National Historic Landmark on April 2, 1966, and became a National Historic Site on October 26, 1974.

Tuskegee Institute became fully accredited in 1985 and its name was formally changed to Tuskegee University that same year.

Notable Graduates
name (year of degree) -- achievement

The Commodores -- musical group
Ralph Ellison -- novelist and literary critic
Daniel "Chappie" James (1942) -- first African-American to reach the rank of Four-Star General, in 1975
Ray Nagin (1978) -- Mayor of New Orleans
Keenan Ivory Wayans -- actor, comedian and television producer

The official website of Tuskegee University is

Booker T. Washington
The Commodores

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The Robinson Library >> Education >> Individual Institutions: United States

This page was last updated on 07/27/2017.