Alcorn State University

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Alcorn State University
Motto Where Knowledge and Character Matter
Type Public, HBCU
Land grant
Established 1871
President Alfred Rankins, Jr.
Students 3,730 (Fall 2016)[1]
Location Lorman, Mississippi, U.S.
31°52′37″N 91°08′28″W / 31.87694°N 91.14111°W / 31.87694; -91.14111Coordinates: 31°52′37″N 91°08′28″W / 31.87694°N 91.14111°W / 31.87694; -91.14111
Campus Rural; 1,700 acres (6.9 km2)
Colors Purple and Gold[2]
Athletics NCAA Division ISWAC
Nickname Braves and Lady Braves
Affiliations APLU
Alcorn State University logo.png
Oakland Chapel on the campus of Alcorn State University
The Literary Society Building on the campus of Alcorn State University

Alcorn State University (Alcorn) is a historically black comprehensive land-grant institution in Lorman, Mississippi. It was founded in 1871 by the Reconstruction-era legislature to provide higher education for freedmen. It is the first black land grant college established in the United States. The university is counted as a census-designated place and had a resident population of 1,017 at the 2010 census.[3]

The university's most famous alumnus, Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist, graduated in 1948. Students at the college were part of the mid-twentieth century civil rights struggle, working to register residents for voting and struggling to end segregation. Other alumni have been activists, politicians and professionals in Mississippi and other states. The university is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


Alcorn State University was founded at the former Oakland College, a school for whites established by the Presbyterian Church. Oakland College closed its doors at the beginning of the American Civil War because of the outbreak of war; most students enlisted in the military. When the college failed to reopen at the end of the war, the property was sold to the state of Mississippi. It renamed the facility as Alcorn University in 1871, in honor of James L. Alcorn, then the state's governor, and established it as a land grant institution and historically black college. [4][5]

This was the first black land grant college in the country. Congress required that states with segregated educational institutions (as was maintained in all the former Confederacy) designate black land grant colleges in order to receive land grants monies for white colleges, as Congress had authorized the program to benefit students of all races. Alcorn University started with what are recognized as three historic buildings.[6]

United States Senator Hiram R. Revels resigned his seat when offered the position as Alcorn's first president. The state legislature provided $50,000 in cash for ten successive years for the establishment and overall operations of the college. The state also granted Alcorn three-fifths of the proceeds earned from the sale of 30,000 acres (12,000 ha) of land scrip for agricultural or land grant colleges under federal legislation. The land was sold for $188,928 with Alcorn receiving a share of $113,400. This money was to be used solely to support the agricultural and mechanical components of the college, which Congress wanted to develop nationally. From its beginning, Alcorn State University was a land-grant college.

In 1878, the name Alcorn University was changed to Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College. The university's original 225 acres (0.91 km2) of land have been expanded to develop a 1,700 acres (6.9 km2) campus. The goals for the college set by the Mississippi legislature following the Reconstruction era emphasized training for blacks rather than academic education. The school, like other black schools during these years, was less a college than a vocational school intended to prepare students for the agricultural economy of the state andof most of their hometowns.

At first the school was exclusively for black males, but women were admitted in 1895. Today, women outnumber men at the university 1800 to 1200. Alcorn began with eight faculty members in 1871. Today the faculty and staff number more than 500. The student body has grown from 179 mostly local male students to more than 4,000 students from all over the world.

In 1974 Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College was renamed Alcorn State University, representing the development of its programs. Governor William L. Waller signed House Bill 298 granting university status to Alcorn and the other state-supported colleges. Alcorn had already become a more diversified university, with graduate programs. It provides an undergraduate education that enables students to continue their work in graduate and professional schools, engage in teaching, and enter other professions. It also provides graduate education to equip students for further training in specialized fields.

While early graduates of Alcorn had limited horizons, more recent alumni are successful physicians, lawyers, pharmacists, dentists, educators, administrators, managers, and entrepreneurs.

Jay Searcy of the Philadelphia Inquirer said in 1994 that except for its football team, Evers, and "an occasional Olympic athlete," "Alcorn rarely gets mentioned outside the state of Mississippi."[7]

Alcorn State is accredited, with seven schools and degree programs in more than fifty areas, including a nursing program. The facilities number approximately 80 modern structures with an approximate value of $71 million.[8]

In late 2013, the state began investigating the university's purchasing policies. Three administrators, including the president and the chief financial officer, have resigned while these investigations have been conducted.[9]


Name Years[10][11] Interim
Hiram Rhodes Revels 1871–1882 No
John Houston Burrus 1882–1893 No
Wilson H. Reynolds 1893–1894 No
Thomas J. Calloway 1894–1896 No
Edward H. Triplett 1896–1899 No
William H. Lanier 1899–1905 No
Levi John Rowan 1905–1911 No
John Adams Martin 1911–1915 No
Levi John Rowan 1915–1934 No
Isiah S. Sanders, Acting President 1934–1934 No
William Harrison Bell 1934–1944 No
Preston Sewell Bowles 1944–1945 No
William Harrison Pipes 1945–1949 No
Jesse R. Otis 1949–1957 No
John Dewey Boyd 1957–1969 No
Walter Washington 1969–1994 No
Rudolph E. Waters Sr. 1994–1995 Yes
Clinton Bristow Jr. 1995–2006 No
Malvin A. Williams Sr. 2006–2008 Yes
George E. Ross 2008–2010 No
Norris Allen Edney 2010–2011 Yes
M. Christopher Brown II 2011–2013 No
Norris Edney 2013–2014 Yes
Alfred Rankins, Jr. 2014–present No


The university enrolls over 3,000 full-time and 300 part-time undergraduate students and 600 graduate students.

The university has seven schools, offering more than 50 different fields of study.

  • School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences
  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Business
  • School of Education and Psychology
  • School of Nursing

Alcorn State University consistently ranks among the top 25 HBCUs in the nation according to the annual U.S. News & World Report HBCU rankings.[12]

Honors Program[edit]

The Honors Program is an option for highly qualified undergraduate students who wish to enhance their academic experience and leadership skills.[13]

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Program[edit]

Alcorn State University offers a general Master of Business Administration (MBA) program through its Natchez campus. Classes are conducted in evening to accommodate its working executive students. Additionally, students off-site may join the live lecture classes via live video feed through the internet. The MBA program offered by Alcorn School of Business is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), global accrediting body for quality business degree programs. Ever since its inception, the Alcorn State's MBA program has been very popular with international students.

Global programs[edit]

Besides coordinating study-abroad opportunities, Global Programs brings worldwide perspectives to campus through exchange programs and special events.[14]

Pre-professional programs[edit]

Alcorn offers pre-professional programs to prepare students for a transition to specialized studies in the fields of law, engineering, nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy and dentistry.[15]


Alcorn State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, and Specialist in Education degrees.

Alcorn's teacher education program is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics is accredited by the American Dietetics Association. The Associate of Science in Nursing degree, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, and the Master of Science in Nursing degree programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Alcorn State University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Association of Industrial Technology, and the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.


The main campus is located near Lorman, Mississippi. The Nursing School and the Business School's Master of Business Administration (MBA) program are located in Natchez, Mississippi. The university also has a class center in Vicksburg.

Main campus[edit]

The main campus is located in rural southwestern Mississippi, 45 miles (72 km) south of Vicksburg,[7] 40 miles (64 km) north of Natchez, and 80 miles (130 km) southwest of Jackson.[16] As of 1994 the closest hotels and/or restaurants to the Alcorn campus are 15 miles (24 km) away along U.S. Highway 61.[7]

Male residence halls include Medgar Wiley Evers Heritage Village Complex and Hiram Revels Hall.[17] Female residence halls include Medgar Wiley Evers Heritage Village Complex buildings A and B, John Burrus Hall, and the Female Honors Residence Hall.[18]

Recent Campus Additions include:

  • 5 mi (8.0 km) Bike/Walking Trail
  • Foster Baseball Field at McGowan Stadium
  • Medgar Wiley Evers Heritage Village (student housing)
  • Clinton Bristow Dining Hall
  • Ecology and Natural Resources Building
  • BioTechnology Building
  • Fine Arts Building Renovations/ Band Hall Addition
  • Lanier Hall renovated into the Student Housing Office
  • Old President House renovated into the Alumni House

Current and planned construction projects include:

  • School of Business (Dumas Hall) renovations
  • Rowan Hall renovations into the Student Health Center
  • Bowles Hall renovations into the Executive Administration Building
  • Student Housing Phase II/ Faculty Housing
  • Technology Classroom Building

Other locations[edit]

Alcorn State has campuses in Natchez and Vicksburg.


Jay Searcy of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote in 1994 that Alcorn had "a gritty football team that has sent 68 players to the National Football League".[7] His article was chiefly about Steve McNair, who is among those numerous players to have gone on to professional football careers.

In 1994 the school had no field house, and the budget of the university's athletic department was smaller than that of several high schools. At the time the department occupied cubicles in the school's physical education and health building.[7]

Sounds of Dyn-O-mite[edit]

Alcorn State University's marching band is known as the "Sounds of Dyn-O-mite" (SOD). The band has more than 200 members and was founded in the 1960s. The "Golden Girls" (GGs) is an established dance squad that has been featured with the marching band since its inception.

The marching band is led by four drum majors.

Notable alumni[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Medgar Evers 1948 First NAACP field secretary and well-known civil rights activist
Albert Butler 1970 Mississippi State Senator [1]
Horace R. Cayton, Sr. c.1880s Journalist and politician, who was one of first blacks to serve on county and state delegations in Seattle, Washington [19]
Chandra Minor 2008 First African-American female orthodontist in Mississippi [20]
Katie G. Dorsett Member of the North Carolina Senate from the 28th district
Alex Haley Author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family
Kimberly Morgan Miss Mississippi 2007
Michael Clarke Duncan attended Actor
Alexander O'Neal attended Musician
Ed Smith Former alderman of the 28th ward in Chicago, Illinois from 1983 to 2010.
Joseph Edison Walker 1903 President of Universal Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee
Adena Williams Loston 1973 President of St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Jack Spinks 1952 Former professional football player for the New York Giants
Willie Alexander 1971 Former professional football player for the Houston Oilers
Jimmy Giles 1977 Former professional football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Leslie Frazier 1980 Defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, former defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, former special assistant coach with the Indianapolis Colts
Roynell Young 1980 Former professional football player for the Philadelphia Eagles
Issiac Holt 1985 Former professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys
Milton Mack Former professional football player for the Detroit Lions
Fred Mcnair Former Professional Canadian and Arena football player and Brother of Steve Mcnair
Cedric Tillman 1992 Former professional football player for the Denver Broncos
Dwayne White Former professional football player for the St. Louis Rams
Garry Lewis Former professional football player for the Oakland Raiders
Torrance Small 1992 Former NFL player for the New Orleans Saints
John Thierry 1994 Former NFL player for the Chicago Bears
Steve McNair 1996 Former professional quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens
Bryant Mix 1997 Former NFL player for the Houston Oilers
Donald Driver 1999 Former professional football player for the Green Bay Packers
Chad Slaughter 2000 Former Professional football player for the Oakland Raiders
Louis Green 2002 Former NFL player for the Denver Broncos
Charlie Spiller 2007 Former NFL player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nate Hughes 2008 Former NFL player for the Detroit Lions
Larry Smith 1980 Former NBA player and assistant coach in the NBA and WNBA.
Lee Robinson 2009 Professional football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos
Emmanuel Arceneaux 2009 Current CFL and former NFL player
Frank Purnell Former professional football player for the Green Bay Packers
Damien Wilson Linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, transferred out of Alcorn after his freshman season
Iris Kyle 10-time overall Ms. Olympia professional bodybuilder


  1. ^ "Alcorn State University: Alcorn's preliminary fall 2016 enrollment". Retrieved 2016-09-24. 
  2. ^ "Alcorn - Graphics Standards Manual". Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  3. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Alcorn State University CDP, Mississippi". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ Brown, Ray C. (December 2, 2014). "Mississippi Colleges that have Closed, Merged, Changed Names". Ray C. Brown. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  5. ^ Oakland College
  6. ^ Posey, Josephine (1994), Against Great Odds: The History of Alcorn State University, University Press of Mississippi 
  7. ^ a b c d e Searcy, Jay. "A Phenom Puts The Middle Of Nowhere On The Map Alcorn State's Steve Mcnair Is An Out-of-this-world Qb In An Out-of-the-way Place. He's Getting It A Lot Of Attention." Philadelphia Inquirer. November 1, 1994. Retrieved on May 3, 2012.
  8. ^ "About", Alcorn University
  9. ^ "Alcorn State President Christopher Brown resigns amid investigation". Associated Press. December 19, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Alcorn State University: Past Presidents". Alcorn State University. Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 22, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 19, 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 14, 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved February 14, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Driving Directions." Alcorn State University. Retrieved on April 25, 2012.
  17. ^ "Male residence halls." Alcorn State University. Retrieved on May 3, 2012.
  18. ^ "Female Residence Halls", Alcorn State University. Retrieved on April 25, 2012.
  19. ^ "Online History – Washington State". Retrieved 2011-01-29. 
  20. ^

External links[edit]