The University of West Alabama was chartered in 1835 as a church-related female academy and admitted its first students in 1839. After difficult times during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, the school reopened in the late 1860s or early 1870s. Although it appears that a few male students were admitted following the reopening, a resolution by the Board of Trustees in 1876 excluded boys, and this policy was followed until the beginning of the present century.
From 1881 to 1910 the school at Livingston was under the direction of the noted educator and reformer Julia Tutwiler, who succeeded in getting a small appropriation from the State Legislature in 1883 to establish normal school training for girls at Livingston Female Academy. According to statements in the University archives, this is believed to be the first State appropriation in Alabama made exclusively for the education of women. The first normal school diplomas were granted in 1886.
Livingston Female Academy and State Normal College continued as a private institution with some State support until 1907, when the State assumed full control. It remained under its own Board of Trustees, however, until the Legislature created a State Board of Trustees for all the normal schools in 1911. In 1919 this board was abolished and all State normal schools were placed under the supervision of the State Board of Education. During these early years the school offered both secondary education and normal school programs for the training of teachers.
Dr. G. W. Brock succeeded Miss Tutwiler as president in 1910, and under his tenure of more than a quarter of a century the institution continued to grow and develop. Presidents since Dr. Brock have been as follows:
|Dr. N. F. Greenhill
Dr. W. W. Hill
Dr. D. P. Culp
Dr. John E. Deloney
Dr. Ralph M. Lyon (Acting President)
Dr. Asa N. Green
Dr. James Bob Drake (Interim President)
Dr. Donald C. Hines
Dr. Ed D. Roach
Dr. Richard D. Holland
Mr. John Blackwell
Dr. Ken Tucker
In 1929 the school at Livingston became State Teachers College, Livingston, Alabama, with authority to confer the degree of Bachelor of Science. The Bachelor of Arts degree was authorized in 1947. Although the institution had begun accepting male students soon after 1900, the student body remained predominantly female through the 1950s.
In 1957 the name was again changed by an act of Legislature-this time to Livingston State College-and the following year the mission of the institution was broadened when the Graduate Department was established and the College was authorized to confer master’s degrees in the field of professional education. In 1967 an act of the Legislature created Livingston University, with its own Board of Trustees.
In 1995 the institution recognized its broader mission as a regional university serving the educational needs of all the citizens of the area by changing its name to the University of West Alabama.
The University derives its legal authority from Alabama Code § 16-53-1, et seq. (1975).
The University of West Alabama is a state-supported, coeducational institution of higher learning governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor. As a regional institution, the University’s foremost commitment is to meeting the educational needs of the State and particularly of the West Alabama area. Valuing a diverse student enrollment, though, it also welcomes students from throughout the United States and from other countries.
The primary purpose of the University is to provide opportunities for students to pursue a quality education through associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and education specialist degrees in liberal arts, natural sciences and mathematics, pre-professional programs, nursing, technology, business, and education. Importance is placed on providing opportunities within the curricula for the development of enhanced skills in critical thinking, communication, leadership, and computer literacy. The University also seeks to provide students opportunities for growth beyond the classroom through a wide range of extracurricular activities, programs, and services and through the maintenance of an environment of cultural and intellectual diversity. Through the total educational experience that it provides and through its encouragement of the free exchange of ideas among faculty, administration, and students, the University attempts to assist its students in developing the important qualities of independent thinking and respect for the ideas of others and in building firm foundations of personal integrity and character in order to realize their quests for a philosophy of life and for self-fulfillment.
At the University of West Alabama, the emphasis is upon the traditional learner, but the institution is also committed to furthering the concept of lifelong learning and to serving the non-traditional student. It considers among its clientele are high schools, businesses and industries, governmental agencies, and professional workers. In serving these diverse publics, the institution employs not only traditional means of delivery, but it also seeks to expand its use of innovative technologies, including distance learning, and to networking with other educational institutions and agencies in order to more comprehensively address the needs of its region.
In fulfilling its mission, the University seeks to employ a vibrant, talented, and diverse faculty. In the recruitment and retention of this faculty, as with all members of the University community, the institution, consistent with its academic heritage, maintains an openness to all qualified persons.
Excellence in teaching and advising is paramount to the faculty, but the members are also committed to providing leadership and fostering positive growth throughout West Alabama through research and public service, with primary emphasis on that which meets the educational, social, cultural, and economic needs of the region.
Approved Board of Trustees June 3, 2002; Revised Fall 2008
The University, through distance learning, research and service, and partnerships with both public and private sectors, will address the major educational, social, and economic issues of the region and in doing so will promote a positive self-image of the institution and the area.
||The University will raise the level of compensation for faculty and staff to at least the State average for regional institutions and will enhance opportunities for professional development for faculty and staff in order to recruit and maintain highly qualified personnel from diverse ethnic and geographic backgrounds.
||The University will raise its student retention rate through improved student counseling and enhanced quality of residential life and extracurricular experience.
||The University will improve recruiting and its success rate by promoting an environment of excellence in academics through a vibrant instructional program, a challenging honors program, appropriate accreditation for academic programs, and enriched opportunities for intellectual exposure and exchange of ideas.
||The University will better meet the needs of its various publics, both internal and external, through the comprehensive use of current information technologies.
||The University will provide effective administrative services to support its mission.
||The University will improve its financial status by increasing its efforts at productivity and by seeking additional funding from public and private sources.
The University will strengthen its academic environment through an increased emphasis on the importance of its place in the international community, specifically through incorporation of an international focus into the curricula and through more active recruitment of international students.