Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University is a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina. Founded by S.G. Atkins in 1892 as the Slater Industrial Academy (later Winston-Salem Teachers College, then Winston-Salem State College), Winston-Salem State University was the first African-American college to offer degrees in elementary education. Today, Winston-Salem University is a research institution with over 6,400 students, and offers both baccalaureate and graduate degrees.
Backstory and Context
Winston-Salem State University was founded by Dr. Simon Green Atkins as the Slater Industrial Academy in 1892. The school's name was changed to Winston-Salem Teachers College in 1925, when it became the first African-American school to award degrees in elementary education. Later, the School of Nursing was added. In the 1960s, the name was again changed to Winston-Salem State College (then University) as the school's curricula further diversified. In 1972, Winston-Salem State University became one of the constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina.
Dr. Atkins was on the faculty of Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina when he was approached by citizens of Winston to found a school in their town. Funding was sought, and with the help of Winston's African-American population and philanthropists R.J. Reynolds and John F. Slater, sufficient money was raised to open the Slater Industrial Academy in 1892. The school originally consisted of a single, one-room wooden building with twenty five students. However, due to Dr. Atkins' tireless efforts, the Slater Industrial Academy soon prospered.
The state of North Carolina took over funding and chartered the school as the Slater Industrial and State Normal School in 1899. By 1925, the school had earned national recognition, and the North Carolina General Assembly expanded the curriculum to offer degrees in elementary education. This made it the first African-American college in the United States to award degrees in that discipline, and the General Assembly re-chartered the school as Winston-Salem Teachers College. In 1953, the College added the School of Nursing, which offered its graduates Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing making them eligible to take the national nursing board exams and become registered nurses.
As a reflection of its excellence and of the variety of degrees that it offered, Winston-Salem Teachers College was renamed Winston-Salem State College in 1963, and in 1969, the General Assembly granted the College university status. Subsequently, in 1972, Winston-Salem State University became one of the constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina. From its humble beginning, Winston-Salem State University has played an important role in education in the United States, and in particular, in North Carolina. It has grown from one building to more than thirty and from twenty five students to more than six thousand. Winston-Salem State University now offers baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate degrees, and has many distinguished graduates. Among them are basketball legend, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Louise Smith (who created the first kindergarten program in North Carolina), and journalist Stephen A. Smith.