You wouldn’t recognize the University of West Alabama at its inception. Our university has humble roots deep in antebellum Alabama, and a quick look at UWA history tracks that growth from unassuming origins to the full-fledged university that UWA is today. Get to know UWA with these quick facts from UWA history.
- Livingston Female Academy, which began in 1835, starts the University of West Alabama’s origins. The beginning of UWA history is a small, church-supported academy operating during a time of migration in Sumter County, where settlers where escaping the harsh oversight of law. At the time, academies were integral to the South, providing older children with preparatory work to continue their education into college.
- Tuition at the Livingston Female Academy was exceptionally less than one might expect and educational institution to charge. An interesting tidbit about UWA history is that tuition was $20 per term, plus an extra $5 for piano lessons and plus $10 to attend classes on French and embroidery.
- The most famous UWA president is Julia Tutwiler. Thanks to her, the academy received the first state appropriation given to female education. Additionally, it was through Tutwiler’s encouragement that the University of Alabama now includes female students. During Tutwiler’s presidency, the academy became the Alabama Normal College, the first of many major name-changes of UWA history.
- 1915 marks the year the school became co-educational. Accompanied by this change was the new president to replace Julia Tutwiler: Dr. George William Brock, who expanded the school and added Brock, Bibb Graves, and Foust Hall to the campus.
- Brock Hall was the site of the first major school building constructed by the academy. The hall was constructed shortly after Alabama legislature granted a tax-exempt status to the institution.
- The academy became accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 1936. At this time, the United States was suffering from the Great Depression. Livingston State Teachers College, formerly the Alabama Normal College, maintained a focus on educating future teachers, and during the presidency of Dr. Noble Franklin Greenhill, saw the introduction of Greek life to campus grounds.
- The school nearly closed due to low enrollment by 1944. And unfortunate part of UWA history is around World War II, when men were leaving to fight in the war, dramatically dropping enrollment and attendance.
- A master’s degree program was added in 1957. 1959 marked the first year in UWA history that the first master’s degrees were awarded to students at the institution.
- The Ira D. Pruitt School of Nursing was established in 1973. The Allied Health Linkage had also been established with the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and a dual degree program was developed alongside Auburn University.
- UWA underwent multiple more name changes before settling on the University of West Alabama. By the time it was the University of West Alabama, the school’s name had changed from the Livingston State Teachers College to Livingston State University to simply Livingston University. Finally, in 1995, Livingston University became the University of West Alabama to prove the commitment founded by UWA to its regional roots.
UWA history is long and varied; the institution we know today focused on different goals, called itself many different names—as if it was growing into its shoes and the responsibility it set upon itself. For more insight into UWA, Livingston and the surrounding area, continue following the UWA Continuing Education blog! If you are interested in learning about our non-credit, online continuing education courses, check out our course offerings at www.uwa.edu/ce.