Feb 28, 2024  
2015-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
2015-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Historical Statement

The present-day Tennessee State University exists as a result of the merger on July 1, 1979, of the former Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Nashville.

Through successive stages, Tennessee State University has developed from a normal school for Negroes to its current status. By virtue of a 1909 Act of the General Assembly, the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School was created, along with two other normal schools in the State, and began serving students on June 19, 1912.

In 1922, the institution was raised to the status of four-year teachers’ college and was empowered to grant the bachelor’s degree. The first degrees were granted in June, 1924. During the same year, the institution became known as the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College; and in 1927, “Normal” was dropped from the name of the College.

The General Assembly of 1941 authorized the State Board of Education to upgrade substantially the educational program of the College, which included the establishment of graduate studies leading to the master’s degree. Graduate curricula were first offered in several branches of teacher education. The first master’s degree was awarded by the College in June 1944.

Accreditation of the institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was first obtained in 1946.

In August, 1951, the institution was granted university status by approval of the State Board of Education. The reorganization of the institution’s educational program included the establishment of the Graduate School, the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education, and the School of Engineering.

Provisions were also made for the later addition of other schools in agriculture, business, and home economics, respectively.

The University was elevated to a full-fledged land-grant university by the State Board of Education in August, 1958. The Land-Grant University program, as approved by the State Board of Education, included: the School of Agriculture and Home Economics, the Graduate School, the Division of Business, the Division of Extension and Continuing Education, and the Department of Aerospace Studies.

A School of Allied Health Professions and a School of Business were created in 1974. Also, the School of Nursing was established in 1979.

On July 1, 1979, the former University of Tennessee at Nashville was merged with Tennessee State University as a result of a court order.

Begun initially in 1947 as an extension center of the University of Tennessee, which is based in Knoxville, the University of Tennessee at Nashville offered only one year of extension credit until 1960, when it was empowered by the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee to offer two years of resident credit. Authorization was granted to extend this to three years of resident credit in 1963, even though degrees were awarded by the Knoxville unit.

To more fully realize its commitment as a full-function evening university, the Center at Nashville became a full-fledged, four-year, degree-granting institution in 1971, upon successfully meeting the requirements for accreditation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. During the same year, the General Assembly sanctioned the institution as a bona fide campus of the University of Tennessee, and the new university occupied its quarters in the building at the corner of Tenth and Charlotte Avenues.

It was the erection of the above-mentioned building that gave rise to a decade-long litigation to “dismantle the dual system” of higher education in Tennessee. The litigation, culminating with the merger of both institutions, resulted in an expanded mission of the present-day Tennessee State University as a Tennessee Board of Regents Institution.

Currently, the University consists of The College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, The College of Business, The College of Education, The College of Engineering, The College of Health Sciences, The College of Liberal Arts, and The College of Public Service and Urban Affairs; and The School of Graduate Studies.