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Athens State University

Athens Female College, ca. 1860

Athens State University is both the oldest and youngest institution of higher education in Alabama’s state educational system. The Institution was founded in 1822 by local citizens who purchased five acres of land, erected a building, and began Athens Female Academy. Ownership of the school was transferred in 1842 to the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Church. With the birth of the North Alabama Conference of the Methodist Church in 1870, the Institution came under the jurisdiction of that body.

On May 10, 1974, the Board of Trustees requested from the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church that the Institution seek affiliation with the State of Alabama. The conference, at its annual meeting in June 1974, gave the Board of Trustees this permission and authorized the transfer of the Institution to the State of Alabama.

In June 1975, the Institution was accepted by the Alabama State Board of Education subject to the appropriation of operating funds by the Alabama Legislature. Later that year, the Legislature appropriated funds for the operation of the Institution to serve the graduates of state junior, community, and technical colleges/institutes.

Athens State University

The institution’s name has changed several times in its 175+ year history, following adjustments in purpose and governance. Athens Female Academy, upon transfer to the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Church in 1842, became Athens Female Institute. Then in 1889 after having been transferred to the newly formed North Alabama conference, the College was known as Athens Female College. In 1931, the College became co-educational and was known as Athens College. In 1975, when the institution became part of the state educational system, it was renamed Athens State College, marking the initiation of an era of increased opportunity for service. In 1998, a bill was passed by the legislature to rename the college Athens State University. The long history of service by the University is the foundation upon which the future of the University rests.