OKelly Library

History of Winston-Salem State University in Brief

Winston-Salem State University was founded by Simon Green Atkins as the Slater Industrial Academy September 28, 1892. It began in a one-room frame structure with 25 pupils and one teacher. In 1895, the school was recognized by the state of North Carolina, and in 1897 it was chartered by the state as the Slater Industrial and State Normal School.

From the beginning, the school has insisted upon the vital importance of elementary school teachers in any program of building an improved citizenship. Emphasis has, therefore, constantly been placed upon the quality and quantity of training for these teachers. In 1925, the General Assembly of North Carolina recognized the school's leadership in this field; granted the school a new charter, extending its curriculum above high school; changed its name to Winston-Salem Teachers College; and empowered it under authority of the State Board of Education to confer appropriate degrees. Winston-Salem Teachers College thus became the first African American institution of higher learning in the nation to grant degrees for teaching in the elementary grades.

The School of Nursing was established in 1953, awarding graduates the degree of Bachelor of Science. In 1957 the North Carolina General Assembly revised the charter of the college authorizing it to expand its curriculum to include secondary education and other specific types of training as directed and determined by the State Board of Higher Education. In 1963 the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the changing of the college's name from Winston-Salem Teachers College to Winston-Salem State College. A statute designating Winston-Salem State College as Winston-Salem State University received legislative approval in 1969.

On October 30, 1971, the General Assembly reorganized higher education in North Carolina. On July 1, 1972, Winston-Salem State University became one of 16 constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina, subject to the control of a Board of Governors.

The following persons have served as President/Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University since its founding in 1892: Simon Green Atkins (1892-1904; 1913-1934), Cadd Grant O'Kelly (1904-1910), Francis Marion Kennedy (1910-1913), Francis Loguen Atkins (1934-1961), Kenneth Raynor Williams (1961-1977), H. Douglas Covington (1977-1984), Haywood L. Wilson, Jr. (1984-1985), Cleon L. Thompson, Jr. (1985-1995), Gerald McCants (1995), Alvin J. Schexnider (1996-2000), Harold L. Martin (2000-2006), Michelle Howard-Vital (2006-2007), Dr. Donald J. Reaves (2007-Present).

References: The History of Winston-Salem State University, 1892-1995, Winston-Salem State University (The College History Series), Forsyth: A County on the March, Winston-Salem: A History, Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century.

Winston-Salem State University

601 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

Winston-Salem, NC 27110

Phone: (336) 750-2000

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