The University of Alabama (informally known as Alabama, U.A., or Bama) is a public research university in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Established in 1820 and opened to students in 1831, the University of Alabama is the oldest and largest of the public universities in Alabama and the flagship of the University of Alabama System.
The university offers programs of study in 13 academic divisions leading to bachelor’s, master’s, education specialist, and doctoral degrees. The only publicly supported law school in the state is at U.A. Other academic programs unavailable elsewhere in Alabama include doctoral programs in anthropology, communication and information sciences, metallurgical engineering, music, Romance languages, and social work.
As one of the first public universities established in the early 19th century southwestern frontier of the United States, the University of Alabama has left a cultural imprint on the state, region, and nation over the past two centuries. The school was a center of activity during the American Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. The University of Alabama varsity football program (nicknamed the Crimson Tide), inaugurated in 1892, ranks as one of the ten winningest programs in U.S. history.
In a 1913 speech then-president, George H. Denny extolled the university as the “capstone of the public school system in the state [of Alabama]”, lending the university its current nickname, The Capstone. In addition, university alumni and faculty include 57 Goldwater Scholars, 15 Rhodes Scholars, 16 Truman Scholars, 36 Hollings Scholars, and 15 Boren Scholars.
In 1818, the United States Congress authorized the newly created Alabama Territory to set aside a township to establish a “seminary of learning”. When Alabama was admitted to the Union on December 14, 1819, a second township was added to the land grant, bringing it to a total of 46,000 acres (186 km2). The General Assembly of Alabama established the seminary on December 18, 1820, named it The University of the State of Alabama, and created a board of trustees to manage the construction and operation of the university.
The board selected a construction site and an architect to design the campus. The site the board chose was, at the time, outside the city limits of the erstwhile state capital, Tuscaloosa. William Nichols, the Alabama State Capitol building and Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa, was chosen to design the campus. Influenced by Thomas Jefferson’s plan at the University of Virginia, the Nichols-designed campus featured a 70-foot (21 m) wide, 70-foot (21 m) high domed Rotunda that served as the library and nucleus of the campus.
The university’s charter was presented to the first university president in the nave of Christ Episcopal Church. U.A. opened its doors to students on April 18, 1831, with the Reverend Alva Woods as president. An academy-style institution during the Antebellum period, the university emphasized the classics and the social and natural sciences. There were around 100 students per year at U.A. in the 1830s.
As the state and university matured, an active literary culture evolved on campus and in Tuscaloosa. U.A. had one of the largest libraries in the country on the eve of the Civil War, with more than 7,000 volumes. There were several thriving literary societies, including the Erosophic and the Phi Beta Kappa societies, which often had lectures by such distinguished politicians and literary figures as the United States Supreme Court Justice John A.
Campbell, novelist William Gilmore Simms, and Professor Frederick Barnard (later president of Columbia University). The addresses to those societies reveal a vibrant intellectual culture in Tuscaloosa; they also illustrate the proslavery ideas central to the university and the state.
Discipline and student behavior was major issue at the university almost from the day it opened. Early presidents attempted to enforce strict rules regarding conduct. Students were prohibited from drinking, swearing, making unauthorized visits off-campus, or playing musical instruments outside a one-hour time frame. Yet riots and gunfights were not uncommon. President Landon Garland lobbied and received approval from the legislature in 1860 to combat the severe discipline problem to transform the university into a military school.
From the Civil War to World War II
Many of the cadets who graduated from the school served as officers in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As a consequence of that role, Union troops burned down the campus on April 4, 1865 (only 5 days before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9), unrelated to Sherman’s March to the Sea for several months earlier and farther east, in Georgia.
Despite a call to arms and defense by the student cadet corps, only four buildings survived the burning: the President’s Mansion (1841), Gorgas House (1829), Little Round House (1860), and Old Observatory (1844). The university reopened in 1871, and in 1880, Congress granted the university 40,000 acres (162 km2) of coal land in partial compensation for $250,000 in war damages.
The University of Alabama allowed female students beginning in 1892. The Board of Trustees allowed female students largely due to Julia S. Tutwiler, with the condition that they are over eighteen and would be allowed to enter the sophomore class after completing their first year at another school and passing an exam. Ten women from Tutwiler’s Livingston school enrolled for the 1893 fall semester. By 1897, women were allowed to enroll as freshmen.
During World War II, U.A. was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program, which offered students a path to a Navy commission. The University of Alabama had extensions in other cities, including Mobile; the University of South Alabama was opened in 1963 to replace that program.
Until the 1960s, the university only admitted white students. The practice of racial segregation was common in the American South, and the university barred all students of color from attending. The first attempt to integrate the university occurred in 1956 when Autherine Lucy successfully enrolled on February 3 as a graduate student in library sciences.
She secured a court order preventing the university from rejecting her application based on race. In the face of violent protests against her attendance, Lucy was suspended (and later outright expelled) three days later by the board of trustees based on being unable to provide a safe learning environment. The university was not integrated until 1963, when Vivian Malone and James Hood registered for June 11.
Governor George Wallace made his infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door”, standing in the front entrance of Foster Auditorium in a symbolic attempt to stop Malone and Hood’s enrollment. Wallace stepped aside when confronted by U.S. deputy attorney general Nicholas Katzenbach and federal marshals sent in by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. President John F. Kennedy had called for the integration of the University of Alabama, as well.
Although Hood dropped out of school after two months, he returned and, in 1997, received his Ph.D. in philosophy. Malone persisted in her studies and became the first African American to graduate from the university. In 2000, the university granted her a doctorate of humane letters. Autherine Lucy’s expulsion was rescinded in 1980, and she re-enrolled and graduated with a master’s degree in 1992. Later in his life, Wallace apologized for his opposition at that time to racial integration. In 2010, the university formally honored Lucy, Hood, and Malone by rechristening the plaza in front of Foster Auditorium as Malone-Hood Plaza and erecting a clock tower – Autherine Lucy Clock Tower – in the plaza.
On April 27, 2011, Tuscaloosa was hit by a tornado rated EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which left a large path of destruction but spared the campus. Six students who lived on off-campus premises were confirmed dead by the university. Due to the infrastructural damage of the city (approx. 12% of the city) and the loss of life, the university canceled the rest of the spring semester and postponed graduation.
From a small campus of seven buildings in the wilderness on the main road between Tuscaloosa and Huntsville (now University Boulevard) in the 1830s, U.A. has grown to a massive 1,970-acre (800 ha) campus in the heart of Tuscaloosa. There are 297 buildings on campus containing some 10,600,000 square feet (980,000 m2) of space. In 2010, the school added 168 acres to its campus by purchasing the property belonging to Bryce Hospital. It also plans to acquire more land to accommodate the continuing growth of enrollment.
The university maintains the University of Alabama Arboretum in eastern Tuscaloosa and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab on Dauphin Island, just off the Alabama Gulf Coast. In 2011, the Sustainable Endowments Institute gave the university a College Sustainability Report Card grade of “B+”.
U.A. is home to several museums, cultural facilities, and historical landmarks.
The Alabama Museum of Natural History at Smith Hall exhibits Alabama’s rich natural history. The oddest artifact could be the Sylacauga meteorite, the largest known extraterrestrial object to strike a human being who survived. The Paul W. Bryant Museum houses memorabilia and exhibits on the history of U.A. athletic programs, most notably the tenure of football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Athletic trophies and awards are displayed at the Mal Moore Athletic Building, named for the university’s former athletic director, near the Bryant Museum.
The Sarah Moody Gallery of Art at Garland Hall hosts contemporary art exhibitions, including the university’s permanent collection. The Ferguson Art Gallery at the Ferguson Center also hosts revolving art exhibitions. The Jones Archaeological Museum at Moundville exhibits the history of the Mississippian culture in Alabama.
Numerous historical landmarks dot the campus, including the President’s Mansion, Denny Chimes, Foster Auditorium (a National Historic Landmark), the Gorgas–Manly Historic District, and Maxwell Observatory.
Campus culture facilities include the Allen Bales Theater, the Marion Gallaway Theater, Morgan Auditorium, and the Frank M. Moody Music Building, which houses the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and the U.A. Opera Theatre as three resident choirs.
“About University of Alabama was taken from Wikipedia“