Oakwood University

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Oakwood University
Former names
Oakwood Industrial School
Oakwood Manual Training School
Oakwood Junior College
Oakwood College
MottoEducation, Excellence, Eternity
TypePrivate, HBCU
Religious affiliation
Seventh-day Adventist Church
Endowment$15.6 million[1]
PresidentLeslie Pollard
Location, ,
United States

34°45′22″N 86°39′11″W / 34.756°N 86.653°W / 34.756; -86.653Coordinates: 34°45′22″N 86°39′11″W / 34.756°N 86.653°W / 34.756; -86.653
CampusSuburban, 1,185 acres (5 km2)
ColorsBlue and gold   
AthleticsUSCAA Division I
NicknameAmbassadors / Lady Ambassadors
MascotThe Ambassador
Oakwood University Logo

Oakwood University is a private, historically black Seventh-day Adventist university in Huntsville, Alabama. It is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Oakwood University.jpg

Oakwood University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Department of Education of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (through the Adventist Accrediting Association) to award the associate, baccalaureate, and master's degrees.

Oakwood University owns and operates the Christian radio station WJOU 90.1 FM, formerly WOCG.[3]


Oakwood University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees through the following schools:[4]

  • School of Arts & Sciences
  • School of Business & Information Systems
  • School of Education & Social Sciences
  • School of Nursing & Health Professions
  • School of Theology

Student activities[edit]

There are over 30 clubs and organizations on campus.[5]

Musical groups[edit]

The Aeolians, Oakwood University's premier touring ensemble, was founded in 1946 by former professor, Dr. Eva B. Dykes.[6] This choir has 45–60 members from various disciplines, and the group travels nationally and internationally as musical ambassadors for the university. The choir has visited Romania, Great Britain, Poland, Jamaica, and Bermuda among other locations. The group has also performed at the White House for President Bill Clinton and at the Kennedy Center, both in Washington, D.C. The current conductor of the ensemble is Jason Max Ferdinand, M.M., a graduate of Oakwood University and Morgan State University and a former Aeolian. Other musical ensembles on campus include gospel choirs Dynamic Praise, Voices of Triumph, the group Serenity winners of the First Season of "Making The Group" reality show competition. Oakwood University is known for its legacy of great music. In 2010, an Oakwood-based vocal group, Committed, won the a capella TV competition The Sing-off.[7] The group is featured in Jacob Collier's 2019 recording and video of Lionel Richie's song All Night Long (All Night).[8]

Academic competitions[edit]

At the 2008 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament in Orlando, Florida, Oakwood University team members brought home the trophy. This competition featured 64 teams from historically black colleges and universities around the nation. In addition to winning the championship, Oakwood University received a grant of $50,000 from the American Honda Motor Company. Both the quiz bowl and basketball teams adjusted their playing schedules to not play on Saturday, the day observed as the Sabbath (Oakwood University is a Seventh-day Adventist institution), and both teams still emerged as champions over Alcorn State University. At the 2009 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament, the team, led by captain Alesis Turner, returned to again be named the champions (the team played in the final rounds against North Carolina Central University). In 2017, Oakwood for the third time won the HCASC Tournament, defeating Bowie State University in the finals without losing a game the entire tournament. 2017 marked the 28th season of the tournament. The school joins Tuskegee University, Florida A&M University, and Morehouse College, as the only schools to win back-to-back championships at HCASC.[9]


Oakwood University's athletic teams are known as the Ambassadors and Lady Ambassadors. The university competes as a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).[10] Oakwood fields 7 sports, men's teams include baseball, basketball, and soccer while women's teams include basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball.[10] The university also offers several intramural sport activities.[11]

Men's basketball[edit]

The Ambassadors men's basketball team won the 2008 USCAA National Championship in the team's first season a member of the association. The Ambassadors won their second USCAA Division I National Championship in March 2012 against Rochester College, and their third in March 2016.[12] The university became the first college or university in Alabama to win three men's basketball championships when the Ambassadors defeated Concordia College to win the 2019 Division I USAA Championship.[13] The Ambassadors men's basketball team won the university's fourth title in 2019 with a 58–57 win against Bluefield State.[14]

Adventist Colleges Abroad[edit]

Adventist Colleges Abroad is a program that allows Oakwood students to spend time studying at Adventist universities outside of the United States while earning credit for the degree they are pursuing at Oakwood.[15]

Notable alumni[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Dr. Delbert Baker 1975 Administrator, educator, author and former president of Oakwood University (currently serves on the White House Board for HBCUs) [16]
Barry Black former U.S. Navy Chief of Chaplains and Chaplain of the U.S. Senate
Ronald Brise Florida State Representative
Angela Brown Soprano Opera Singer
Natalie Cadet Singer, member of Cadet Sisters
Alvin Chea Member of the gospel group Take 6
Clifton Davis Actor, Pastor, Singer, Songwriter
Hallerin Hilton Hill radio talk show host, WNOX Knoxville, Tennessee
T. R. M. Howard 1931 Civil Rights Leader, Surgeon, Entrepreneur, Mentor to Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer
Heather Knight 1982 President of Pacific Union College
Davido Nigerian Afropop musician
Brian McKnight R&B Singer/musician, and also brother of alumnus Claude McKnight
Claude McKnight Member of the gospel group Take 6
Toni Neal Traffic Anchor, WSB-TV Atlanta, Georgia
Wintley Phipps Pastor, Singer, Founder and President of U.S. Dream Academy
John F. Street Former mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mervyn Warren Member of the gospel group Take 6
Committed Winners of Season 2, NBC's The Sing Off
Amber Bullock 2011 Winner of Season 4 BET's Sunday Best
Little Richard[17] American recording artist, singer-songwriter and actor.
Eric Thomas 2001 Pastor, Motivational Speaker, Author, and Educator.
Sydney Freeman Jr. Educational theorist, author, and social scientist at the University of Idaho.

Further reading[edit]

  • Oakwood! A Vision Splendid, Mervyn A. Warren (1996)
  • A Place Called Oakwood, Benjamin J. Baker

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2017. "Oakwood University has an endowment valued at nearly $15.6M, as of the end of the 2017 fiscal year. The return on its endowment was of $2.27M (14.5%), compared to the 7.76% average return ($2.88M on $37.1M) across all Baccalaureate Colleges".
  2. ^ Hashimoto, Giovanni (22 November 2011). "Adventist College and University Enrollment Generally Up". Spectrum. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  3. ^ http://www.wjou.org/
  4. ^ https://graduate.oakwood.edu/
  5. ^ https://www2.oakwood.edu/life-at-oakwood/
  6. ^ "Aeolians". Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  7. ^ Wright, Jared. Oakwood University Vocalists Star on NBC's "Sing-Off" Spectrum Blog, December 7, 2010. Includes video of their performance.
  8. ^ "Jacob Collier with Metropole Orkest Djesse, Vol. 1". March 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Honda Campus All-Star Challenge".
  10. ^ a b "The USCAA Membership: Oakwood University". USCAA. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Intramural Sports". Oakwood University Athletics. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  12. ^ Staff (March 2012). "Oakwood University Wins USCAA National Men's Basketball Championship". Adventist Today News. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  13. ^ Culpepper, Reginald (March 10, 2016). "Ambassadors of Oakwood University Win USCAA Basketball Championship". HBCU Connect. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Oakwood Wins Men's Division I National Championship, Fourth in School History". USCAA. March 9, 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Adventist Colleges Abroad". Oakwood University. Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
  16. ^ http://messagemagazine.org/index.php/152-Message-Magazine/227-2011-Nov/Dec/author/93-Delbert-W-Baker,-PHD,
  17. ^ Hall, Kristin (2020-09-25). "Little Richard to be buried at historically black college". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2020-09-25.

External links[edit]