Savannah State University, the oldest public historically black university in the State of Georgia, develops productive members of a global society through high quality instruction, scholarship, research, service, and community involvement. The University fosters engaged learning and personal growth in a student-centered environment that celebrates the African American legacy while nurturing a diverse student body. Savannah State University offers graduate and undergraduate studies including nationally accredited programs in the liberal arts, the sciences and the professions.
Overview of Savannah State University
Savannah State University was founded when the Georgia General Assembly passed enabling legislation on November 26, 1890, creating a normal school for the training of Black citizens. The fledgling institution, known as the Georgia State Industrial College (GSIC) for Colored Youths, began its first session in June 1891 in the Baxter Street School Building in Athens, Georgia, with Richard R. Wright, Sr., as principal, and was considered a part of the University of Georgia. Religious and educational leaders such as Professor John McIntosh, Reverend E. K. Love, James Simms, Alexander Harris, and others met in March 1891 in the basement of the First African Baptist Church and developed a proposal that convinced Judge Peter W. Meldrim, chair, and the other white members of the Georgia State Industrial College Board of Commissioners to locate the new Black institution in Savannah.
The college was established as a result of the Second Morrill Land Grant Act of August 30, 1890, which had specific wording mandating the development of Black land grant colleges in the southern and border states. The early educational paradigm of the college was based on the Talented Tenth philosophy of W. E. B. DuBois, the vocation of Booker T. Washington, and the model of the New England College espoused by Richard R. Wright, Sr., because of his education under the American Missionary Association at Atlanta University. The early curriculum had normal, agricultural, and college programs. The college opened in Savannah on October 7, 1891, with Richard R. Wright, Sr., as principal, five students from Ware High School in Augusta, and a supervisor for the farm. Richard R. Wright, Jr., received the first baccalaureate degree from the college in June 1898. During Wright’s presidency, Presidents William McKinley (December 1898) and William Howard Taft (May 1, 1912) visited the campus. During Cyrus G. Wiley’s (GSIC Class of 1899) tenure (1921-26), women were admitted as boarders, and the college was established as a federal agricultural extension center.
In 1932, the college became a full-time degree granting institution, without high school and normal programs, and became a member of the University System of Georgia. The name of the college was changed to Georgia State College in 1936. In 1950, the name of the college was changed to Savannah State College and in 1996, the name was changed to Savannah State University.
Though its earliest academic programs were centered on agriculture, commerce and industrial and vocational trades, today’s curriculum is focused on science, research, business, liberal arts, teacher preparation and global citizenship.
Richard R. Wright
Cyrus G. Wiley
Benjamin F. Hubert
James A. Colston
William K. Payne, Ph.D., Acting
William K. Payne, Ph.D.
Howard Jordan, Ph.D.
Prince A. Jackson, Jr., Ph.D.
Clyde W. Hall, Ed.D., Acting
Wendell G. Rayburn, Ph.D.
Wiley S. Bolden, Ph.D., Acting
William E. Gardner, Jr., Ph.D.
Annette K. Brock, Ph.D., Acting
John T. Wolfe, Ph.D.
Carlton E. Brown, Ed.D.
Julius S. Scott, Ph.D., Interim
Earl G. Yarbrough, Sr., Ph.D.
Cheryl Davenport Dozier, DSW, Interim
Cheryl Davenport Dozier, DSW,
Kimberly Ballard-Washington, J.D., Interim