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WSSU celebrates 125 years with events throughout September

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is readying for a celebration 125 years in the making. 

On Sept. 28, 1892, Slater Academy, the institute that would become WSSU, was founded by visionary Dr. Simon Green Atkins. The month of September is an opportunity for WSSU to share the university's historic milestones and achievements and also look to the future.

Here’s a look at how you can celebrate WSSU’s quasquicentennial.

Sciences Building Groundbreaking

WSSU’s Board of Trustees will break ground on a new $50 million sciences building on Friday, Sept. 15. The event, scheduled for 8 a.m. and open to the public, will be held in the Wilveria B. Atkinson Plaza. The five-story building – first conceived in 2006 – will help WSSU increase the number and diversity of future scientists. The building is funded through the NC Connect Bond.

“I Dream a World: The Life and Dreams of Simon Green Atkins”

WSSU celebrates its 125th anniversary with an original mixed performance production, “I Dream a World: The Life and Dreams of Simon Green Atkins,” at 11 a.m. on Sept. 28 in K.R. Williams Auditorium. The production –  through narration, spoken word and song –  tells the story of Dr. Simon Green Atkins, a man who had an audacious dream to create a university that would educate the children and grandchildren of recently freed slaves with the same excellence and ideas as Ivy League schools. The event, sponsored by Reynolds American, will include performances by the WSSU Choir and the Burke Singers.

A birthday party, featuring cake, music and other festivities, will follow at 12:30 p.m. outside K.R. Williams. Both events are free and open to the public.

Winston-Salem Football Classic

WSSU continues its 125th celebration week with the Second annual Winston-Salem Football Classic, Sept. 29-30.

Friday, Sept. 29:

  • Youth tRAMSformation Tour: More than 700 middle-school students from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will be touring WSSU’s campus. The event will include sessions with WSSU student-athletes and professors. WSSU Athletics is partnering with WS/FCS on this event.

Saturday, Sept. 30

  • WSSU Fall 2017 Open House: Hundreds of prospective students and their families will be on campus for activities and to learn more about WSSU programs. The event is sponsored by WSSU’s Enrollment Management. More information at:
  • WSSU Football vs. Lincoln University: WSSU faces CIAA foe Lincoln University. The game tips off at 6 p.m. at Bowman Gray Stadium. Stay at the conclusion of the game for fireworks.

Give Back

During the festivities, the community is invited to honor the university and its legacy by making a gift of $125 or more. To donate online, go to:

WSSU also will be celebrating throughout the month by posting special photos and posts on its official social media channels. You can share by using #WSSU125th.

Purchase 125th items from WSSU's campus bookstore. Items are available on campus and through the online store.

Diggs Gallery Exhibit

The Diggs Gallery is celebrating WSSU’s 125th anniversary with “Origins: The Historical Legacy of Visual Art at Winston-Salem State University.” The special exhibit pulls from the gallery’s permanent collection, highlighting 12 artists spanning more than a century of art. 

The exhibit runs through Dec. 2. The gallery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.

WSSU’s History

WSSU was founded on Sept. 28, 1892, as the Slater Industrial Academy, in a one-room frame structure with 25 students and one teacher. Today, WSSU has just over 5,100 students and offers nearly 50 degree programs, including and two doctoral programs.

A bold past. A brilliant future.

For 125 years, Winston-Salem State University has fostered the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment. Join us in celebrating our 125th anniversary with events throughout 2017. Learn more at

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