Auburn University

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Auburn University (AU or Auburn) is a state university located in Auburn. With over 23,000 students and 1,200 faculty, it is the largest university in the state and according to U.S. News & World Report, has a selectivity rating of "more selective." Auburn was chartered on February 1, 1856, as the East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts school affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The college was donated to the state of Alabama in 1872, when it became the state's public land-grant university under the Morrill Act and was renamed the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama. In 1892, the college became the first four-year coeducational school in the state. The college was renamed the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API) in 1899. In 1960, its name was officially changed to Auburn University, as it had long been popularly known. Auburn is one of only 13 American universities designated as a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research center.


Auburn University was chartered as the East Alabama Male College by the Alabama Legislature, over the veto of Governor John Winston, on February 1, 1856. It opened its doors in 1859 as a Methodist College, with Reverend William J. Sasnett as president. The first year's enrollment consisted of 80 undergraduates taught by a 10-man faculty, governed by a 51-member board of trustees. Classes were held in "Old Main" until the college was closed due to the Civil War, when most of the students and faculty left to enlist. During the war, the campus served as a training ground for the Confederate Army, with its building used as a hospital for Confederate wounded.

The college reopened in 1866. In 1872 the Methodist church transferred ownership to the State of Alabama. Alabama placed the school under the provisions of the Morrill Act as a land-grant institution, the first in the South to be established separate from the state university. This act provided for 240,000 acres of Federal land to be sold in order to provide funds for an agricultural and mechanical school. As a result the school was renamed the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama.

Under the provisions of this act, land-grant institutions were also supposed to teach military tactics and train officers for the United States military. In the late 1800s, most students at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama were enrolled in the cadet program, learning military tactics and training to become future officers. Each county in the state was allowed to nominate two cadets to attend the college free of charge.

In 1892, two historic events occurred: women were first admitted to the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, and football was first played as a school sport. Eventually, football replaced polo as the main sport on campus. In 1899, the school name was again changed, this time to Alabama Polytechnic Institute.

By 1911 API reported enrollment of 737 students with 64 professors and instructors. Tuition was free for state residents, and $20 per session for non-residents.

On October 1, 1918, nearly all of Alabama Polytechnic Institute's able-bodied male students 18 or older voluntarily joined the United States Army for short-lived military careers on campus. The student-soldiers numbered 878, according to API President Charles Thach, and formed the academic section of the Student Army Training Corps. The vocational section was composed of enlisted men sent to Auburn for training in radio and mechanics. The students received honorable discharges two months later following the Armistice that ended World War I. API struggled through the great depression, having scrapped an extensive expansion program by then-President Bradford Knapp. Faculty salaries were cut drastically, and enrollment decreased along with state appropriations to the college.

During World War II, API again found its place training officers for the U.S. Military on campus; Auburn produced over 32,000 troops for the war effort. Following the end of World War II, API, like many colleges around the country, experienced a period of massive growth caused by returning soldiers taking advantage of their GI Bill offer of free education. In the five-year period following the end of the war, enrollment at API more than doubled.

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Recognizing that the school had moved beyond its agricultural and mechanical roots, it was granted university status by the Alabama Legislature in 1960 and officially renamed Auburn University, a name that better expressed the varied academic programs and expanded curriculum that the school had been offering for years. Like most universities in the American South, Auburn was racially segregated prior to 1963, with only white students being admitted. Compared to the images of George Wallace standing in the door of the University of Alabama, integration went smoothly at Auburn, with the first African-American student being admitted in 1964, and the first doctoral degree being granted to an African-American in 1967.

Today, Auburn has grown since its founding in 1856 to have the largest on-campus enrollment in the state of Alabama, with over 23,000 students and a faculty of almost 1,200 at the main campus in Auburn. Additionally, there are over 6,000 students at the Auburn University Montgomery satellite campus established in 1967.



Auburn has traditionally been rated highly by academic ranking services. According to the most recent rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Auburn is ranked 38th among the nation's top 50 public universities and is tied for 3rd among public universities in the SEC (sharing this spot with the University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama). Auburn University is typically the highest-ranked university in the state of Alabama in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, having held the number one ranking in the state for 12 of the past 14 years, and was ranked below another university only on one occasion (and tied this year). Auburn was the only college or university in Alabama included in the inaugural edition (1981) of the widely respected Peterson's Guides to America's 296 Most Competitive Colleges, .

Auburn is a charter member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), which is comprised of 11 of the largest Southern public universities in the US and one private university, Vanderbilt University. Among the other 10 peer public universities, 2 are ranked ahead of Auburn by U.S. News & World Report, and 2 others tie Auburn. This high ranking and reputation for academic quality is in spite of the fact that Auburn's $316 million endowment is currently the second smallest of the 12 SEC universities. An attempt to increase the endowment by $500 million began in 2005 with the "It Begins at Auburn" campaign. As of August 2006, the campaign had raised $390 million dollars, making it the largest campaign in university history.

The university currently consists of thirteen schools and colleges. Programs in engineering, architecture and business have been ranked among the best in the country and Auburn also boasts strong programs in veterinary medicine, mathematics, science, agriculture, and journalism. The university's core curriculum has likewise been recognized as one of the best in the nation.

The Ginn College of Engineering has a 134-year tradition of engineering education, consistently ranking in the nation's top 20 engineering programs in terms of numbers of engineers graduating annually. The college has a combined enrollment of close to 4,000. Auburn's College of Engineering offers majors in civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial, textile, aerospace, agricultural, and chemical engineering, and--more recently--began a program in wireless engineering after receiving a donation from alumnus Samuel L. Ginn. In 2001, Ginn, a noted US pioneer in wireless communication, made a $25 million gift to the college and announced plans to spearhead an additional $150 million in support. This gave Auburn the first Bachelor of Wireless Engineering degree program in the United States. Auburn University was the first university in the Southeast to offer the bachelor of software engineering degree and the master of software engineering degree.

Auburn has historically placed much of its emphasis on the education of engineers at the undergraduate level, and in recent years has been ranked as high as the 10th largest undergraduate engineering program in the US in terms of the number of undergraduate degrees awarded on annual basis. The Ginn College of Engineering is now focused on growing the graduate programs, and recent rankings demonstrate the increasing profile of graduate engineering education at Auburn. The Ginn College of Engineering was recently ranked 60th nationally overall and 35th among public universities that offer doctoral programs in engineering by U.S. News and World Report. Last year, the College ranked 67th among all engineering programs and 40th among such programs at public universities. "America's Best Graduate Schools 2006" ranks the Ginn College of Engineering's graduate program in the Top 100 graduate engineering programs in the US. Auburn's Industrial and Systems Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering were all ranked in the top 100.

The architecture profession’s publication Design-Intelligence recently ranked Auburn's School of Architecture as the No. 1 school in the South for preparing its graduates for the professional field. In addition, the school was ranked No. 10 in value nationally, with a 9th place national ranking for the Interior Architecture program. Of critical mention here is the School's Rural Studio program, founded by the late Samuel Mockbee.

Auburn's Economics Department, in the College of Business, was ranked 123rd in the world in 1999 by the Journal of Applied Econometrics. Auburn was rated ahead of such international powerhouses as INSEAD in France (141st) and the London Business School (146th). Auburn's MBA Program in the College of Business has annually been ranked by U.S. News and World Report magazine in the top ten percent of the nation's more than 750 MBA Programs.

Nationally recognized ROTC programs are available in three branches of service: Air Force, Army, and Navy/Marine Corps, the latter being the only one of its kind in Alabama. Each of these three ROTC units is ranked among the top ten in the nation. Over 100 officers that attended Auburn have reached flag rank (general or admiral), including one, Carl Epting Mundy Jr., who served as Commandant of the US Marine Corps. Auburn is one of only seven universities in the Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program, and has historically been one of the top ROTC producers of Navy nuclear submarine officers.

In addition to the many outstanding ROTC graduates commissioned through Auburn, two masters degree alumni from Auburn, four-star generals Hugh Shelton and Richard Myers, served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the last decade. Both officers received their commissions elsewhere, and attended Auburn for an M.S. (Shelton) and M.B.A. (Myers).

Auburn has graduated six astronauts (including T.K. Mattingly of Apollo 13 fame) and one current and one former director of the Kennedy Space Center. 1972 Auburn Aerospace Engineering graduate Jim Kennedy, currently director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, was previously deputy director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Several hundred Auburn graduates, primarily engineers and scientists, currently work directly for NASA or NASA contractors. Hundreds of Auburn engineers worked for NASA at MSFC during the peak years of the "space race" in the 1960s, when the Saturn and Apollo moon programs were in full development.

Auburn University owns and operates the 334-acre Auburn-Opelika Robert G. Pitts Airport, providing flight education and fuel, maintenance, and airplane storage. The Auburn University Aviation Department is fully certified by the FAA as an Air Agency with examining authority for private, commercial, instrument, and multiengine courses.

Auburn University has been recognized as having some of the best agriculture, fisheries, and poultry science programs in the South. The Old Rotation on campus is the oldest continuous agricultural experiment in the Southeast, and third oldest in the United States, dating from 1896. In addition, the work of Dr. David Bransby on the use of switchgrass as a biofuel was the source of its mention in the 2006 State of the Union Address.

Modern Healthcare ranked Auburn University’s Physicians Executive M.B.A. (PEMBA) program in the College of Business ninth in the nation among all degree programs for physician executives, according to the Journal’s May 2006 issue. Among M.B.A. programs tailored specifically for physicians, AU’s program is ranked second.

Schools and year originated:

  • College of Agriculture, 1872
  • College of Architecture, Design and Construction, 1907
  • College of Business, 1967
  • College of Education, 1915
  • Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, 1872
  • School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, 1984
  • College of Human Sciences, 1916
  • College of Liberal Arts, 1986
  • School of Nursing, 1979
  • James Harrison School of Pharmacy, 1885
  • College of Sciences and Mathematics, 1986
  • College of Veterinary Medicine, 1907
  • Graduate School, 1872

Student life


For most of the early history of Auburn, boarding houses and barracks made up most of the student housing. Even into the 1970s, boarding houses were still available in the community. It wasn't until the great depression that Auburn began to construct the first buildings on campus that were "dorms" in the modern sense of the word. As the university gradually shifted away from agricultural and military instruction to more of an academic institution, more and more dorms began to replace the barracks and boarding houses.

Auburn's first dorms were hardly luxurious. Magnolia Dormitory, built in the 1950s and demolished in 1987, was once used by the state of Alabama in its defense against a lawsuit brought by state prison inmates. The inmates claimed that housing two men in a cell of particularly small dimensions constituted 'cruel and unusual punishment.' The state argued in court that students at Auburn actually paid to live in even smaller living spaces—at Magnolia Dorm. The inmates lost the case. Its "twin", Noble Hall, used as a women's residence, was demolished only in 2005 and was condemned during at least the final year in which it was inhabited.

In the last twenty years, the city of Auburn has experienced a rapid growth in the number of apartment complexes constructed. Most Auburn students today live off-campus in the apartment complexes and condos, which surround the immediate area around the university. Less than 25 percent of Auburn students live on campus.

Auburn's on-campus student housing consists of three complexes located at various locations over campus. "The Quad" is the oldest of the four, dating to the great depression projects begun by the Works Progress Administration and located in Central Campus. Made up of 11 buildings, the Quad houses mostly undergraduates in coed, alternating-floor buildings. "The Hill" is made up of 14 buildings and is located in South Campus. The Hill houses mostly undergraduate women with the exception of the two high-rise dormitories (Boyd and Sasnett), which are coed on alternating floors.

"The Extension" is a block of six buildings (labeled A, B, C, D, E, and F), each comprised of two-bedroom apartments, housing undergraduates.

"The Village," formerly known as married student housing, recently housed a variety of students, to include undergraduates, graduates, and married students. In late 2005, this housing complex was closed to students and was later demolished during the summer and early fall of 2006.

Greek life

Male Greeks in Auburn are roughly divided into two separate areas: Old Row and New Row. "Old Row" traditionally was made up of the fraternities whose houses were located along Magnolia Avenue on the north side of campus. "New Row" is made up of fraternities whose houses were located along Lem Morrison Drive southwest of campus. However, being an "Old Row" or "New Row" fraternity doesn't really depend on where the house is located but on the age of the fraternity. Ergo, there are some "Old Row" fraternities with houses on "New Row" Lem Morrison Drive because they moved there. Today's "Old Row" on and around Magnolia Avenue was once the "New Row," as the first generation of fraternity houses at Auburn were on or near College Street. Most of these houses were demolished by the end of the 1970s, and only two fraternity houses remain on College today.

Sororities are located not in individual houses like Auburn fraternities, but in the dorms located on the Hill. This has had the unintended side effect of keeping dues for these sororities among the lowest in the nation. Each dorm has a sorority "chapter" room within it for the sorority designated to that dorm.

Greek Life is important at Auburn, but not a requirement for experiencing Auburn life. Roughly 18 percent of men and 34 percent of women are in Greek organizations at Auburn. Some say that because of the low percentages there is a marked lack of animosity between Greeks and independents. In fact, 5 out of the last 10 Student Government Association Presidents have been independents.


Main article: Auburn Tigers


For Auburn athletic traditions, see Auburn Tigers#Traditions.

The Auburn Creed

In 1945, Auburn professor George Petrie wrote a creed which grew to become a unifying set of beliefs and principles common to all Auburn students, faculty, and alumni. This creed is said to embody the spirit of Auburn and is reflected in every member of the Auburn family.


Held on the front and back steps of Katherine Cooper Cater Hall, Callouts are a time when students who have been chosen for membership into certain campus organizations are announced.

The Auburn University Marching Band

The Auburn University Marching Band has been cited as one of the nation's finest university marching bands. The band has long performed at school football games and pep rallies. The band was awarded the 2004 Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy, one of the nation's highest awards for college and university marching bands. The Auburn University Marching Band marched in the United States Presidential Inaugural Parade (for President George W. Bush) in 2005. In 2006, the Auburn University Marching Band had over 375 members, the largest in Auburn University history. The Auburn University Marching Band has been invited by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ireland, to participate in the 2008 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The Auburn University Marching Band will also performed on January 15, 2007 at the Alabama Governor's Inaugural Parade in Montgomery.

The Tiger Eyes are the visual ensemble of the Auburn University Marching Band. The Tiger Eyes are comprised of three distinct lines--flags, twirlers, and dancers--that complete complimentary choreography. The three lines work together for one common visual effect as one single ensemble. Tiger Eyes are selected by individual audition based on their specialty each year, as posted on the Auburn University Band Tiger Eyes' website.

Selected Student Organizations


  • The Auburn Plainsman – the university's student-run newspaper, has won 23 National Pacemaker Awards from the Associated Collegiate Press since 1966. Only the University of Texas' student paper has won more.
  • The Southern Humanities Review- One of the leading literary journals in the region, The Southern Humanities Review has been published at the University by members of the English faculty, graduate students in English, and the Southern Humanities Council since 1967, publishing the work of nationally known authors such as Kent Nelson and R. T. Smith.
  • Eagle Eye TV News - A weekly 30-minute television news program that is produced by Auburn University students and that airs on-campus, off-campus, and on-demand at the university website.
  • WEGL 91.1 FM - The Auburn campus radio station.
  • The Auburn Circle- The student general-interest magazine. The Circle publishes poetry, art, photography, fiction, nonfiction, and architectural and industrial design from Auburn students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
  • "Glomerata"- Auburn University's student-run yearbook which began production in 1897, and got its name from the conglomeration of Auburn, hence its name Glomerata.


General Interest

  • United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) - Auburn University is the WFP's lead academic partner in a recently launched student “War on Hunger” campaign. In 2004, the WFP tasked Auburn University with heading the first student-led War on Hunger effort. Auburn then founded the Committee of 19 which has led campus and community hunger awareness events and developed a War on Hunger model for use on campuses across the country. The Committee of 19 recently hosted a War on Hunger Summit at which representatives from 29 universities were in attendance.
  • Cooperative Education (Co-Op) - Co-op at Auburn University is a planned and supervised program alternating semesters of full-time college classroom instruction with semesters of full-time paid work assignments. These work assignments are closely related to the student's academic program. Thousands of Auburn University graduates, especially engineering majors, have supported themselves financially while studying at Auburn by participating in Co-op. This educational program prepares students for professional careers by combining academic training with practical work experience in industry, business, and government.
  • The Sol of Auburn - Auburn University's Solar Car Team - recently participated in the North American Solar Challenge 2005. On July 27, 2005, Auburn's car crossed the finish line in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 4th place in Stock Class, 12th Place overall. The SOL of Auburn is the only solar car in Alabama, and the project is organized by Auburn University's College of Engineering with a team of four faculty and over twenty undergraduate students.
  • The War Eagle Flying Team (WEFT) - A student organization made up of both pilots and non-pilots. Most team members are Professional Flight Management, Aviation Management, or Aerospace Engineering majors. WEFT competes with other flying teams at the annual National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) sponsored Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON).
  • Auburn University Computer Gaming Club- One of the oldest University Sponsored Computer Gaming Clubs in the USA. Weekly meetings and semesterly LAN parties.
  • Auburn University Society for Anime and Manga- * Weekly meetings to watch and discuss Japanese anime and manga.
  • Samford Hall Clock Tower - Information on the Samford Hall Clock Tower, a well known symbol of Auburn University. Also includes information on the bell and carillon. Note: This page is not directly maintained by Auburn University.


  • Schools and colleges: 13
  • Campus: ~375 buildings on 1,840 acres (7 km²)
  • Library total volumes: 5,316,652
  • Endowment: $316,141,000
  • U.S. News Selectivity Rating: "More selective"

Enrollment & SAT/ACT Scores

  • 2005 Fall enrollment: 23,333
  • 2005 freshmen:
    • Enrolled: 4,197
    • Average high school GPA: 3.52
    • SAT verbal scores over 600 27%
    • SAT math scores over 600 38%
    • SAT verbal scores over 700 4%
    • SAT math scores over 700 5%
    • ACT scores over 30 10%

Notable alumni


  • Auburn is shown in the 2004 Lions Gate film A Love Song for Bobby Long. It is presumed to be the university where the title character, played by John Travolta, once taught as he is seen at the beginning of the movie wearing an Auburn T-shirt and baseball cap.
  • Auburn University is featured in the 2003 Sony Pictures' film Big Fish. However, Huntingdon College in Montgomery was used as the location for shooting.
  • Auburn is mentioned in the 1971 TV-movie Brian's Song, a fact-based film about two pro football players, Brian Piccolo (played by James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams).
  • Auburn has made a number of cameos in the syndicated comic strip Kevin & Kell, drawn by Auburn alumnus Bill Holbrook.


  • "Auburn University" (February 13, 2007) Wikipedia - accessed February 13, 2007
  • "Atkins, Leah Rawls (2011) "Auburn University" in Clarence L. Mohr & Charles Reagan Wilson, eds. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Vol. 17. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press

External links