Auburn University

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Auburn University (AU) is a state university located in Auburn, Alabama in the United States. With over 23,000 students and 1,200 faculty, it is the largest university in the state. Auburn was chartered on February 1, 1856, as the East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts school affiliated with the Methodist Church. The college was donated to the state of Alabama in 1872, when it became the state's public land-grant university under the Morrill Act and was renamed the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama. In 1892, the college became the first four-year coeducational school in the state. The college was renamed the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API) in 1899. In 1960, its name was changed to Auburn University, as it had long been popularly known.

Samford Hall, located on College Street in Auburn, is home to the University's administration.


"Old Main," the first building on Auburn's campus, was destroyed by fire in 1887.
File:Auburn cadets.jpg
API Cadets drill on Ross Square in 1917.
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API Cadets and students wait at the train station for trains to Atlanta or Montgomery, circa 1943

Auburn University was chartered by the Alabama Legislature as the East Alabama Male College on May 6, 1856, under the guidance of the Methodist Church. However, from its very first day, it has always been called "Auburn." The first President of the institution was Reverend William J. Sasnett, and the school opened its doors in 1859 to a student body of eighty and a faculty of ten. The early history of Auburn is inextricably linked with the Civil War and the Reconstruction era South. Some of the first secession debates in Alabama occurred in Langdon Hall on the campus of the East Alabama Male College. Classes were held in "Old Main" until the college was closed due to the Civil War, when most of the students and faculty left to enlist. The campus was used as a training ground for the Confederate Army, and "Old Main" served as a hospital for Confederate wounded.

To commemorate Auburn's contribution to the Civil War, a cannon lathe used for the manufacture of canons for the Confederate Army and recovered from Selma, Alabama, was presented to Auburn in 1952 by brothers of Delta Chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. It sits today on the lawn next to Samford Hall.

The school was reopened in 1866 following the end of the Civil War and has been open ever since. In 1872, control of the institution was transferred from the Methodist Church to the State of Alabama for financial reasons. Alabama placed the school under the provisions of the Morrill Act as a land-grant institution, the first in the South to be established separate from the "state" university. This act provided for 240,000 acres (971 km²) of Federal land to be sold in order to provide funds for an agricultural and mechanical school. As a result, in 1872 the school was renamed to the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama.

Under the provisions of this act, land-grant institutions were also supposed to teach military tactics and train officers for the United States military. In the late 1800s, most students at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama were enrolled in the cadet program, learning military tactics and training to become future officers. Each county in the state was allowed to nominate two cadets to attend the college free of charge.

In 1892, two historic events occurred: women were first admitted to the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, and football was first played as a school sport. Eventually, football replaced polo as the main sport on campus. In 1899, the school name was again changed, this time to Alabama Polytechnic Institute.

On October 1, 1918, nearly all of Alabama Polytechnic Institute's able-bodied male students 18 or older voluntarily joined the United States Army for short-lived military careers on campus. The student-soldiers numbered 878, according to API President Charles Thach, and formed the academic section of the Student Army Training Corps. The vocational section was composed of enlisted men sent to Auburn for training in radio and mechanics. The students received honorable discharges two months later following the Armistice that ended World War I. API struggled through the great depression, having scrapped an extensive expansion program by then-President Bradford Knapp. Faculty salaries were cut drastically, and enrollment decreased along with state appropriations to the college.

During World War II, API again found its place training officers for the U.S. Military on campus; Auburn produced over 32,000 troops for the war effort. Following the end of World War II, API, like many colleges around the country, experienced a period of massive growth caused by returning soldiers taking advantage of their GI Bill offer of free education. In the five-year period following the end of the war, enrollment at API more than doubled.

Recognizing that the school had moved beyond its agricultural and mechanical roots, it was granted university status by the Alabama Legislature in 1960 and officially renamed Auburn University, a name that better expressed the varied academic programs and expanded curriculum that the school had been offering for years. Like most universities in the American South, Auburn was racially segregated prior to 1963, with only white students being admitted. Compared to the images of George Wallace standing in the door of the University of Alabama, integration went smoothly at Auburn, with the first African-American student being admitted in 1964, and the first doctoral degree being granted to an African-American in 1967.

Today, Auburn has grown since its founding in 1856 to have the largest on-campus enrollment in the state of Alabama, with over 23,000 students and a faculty of almost 1,200 at the main campus in Auburn. Additionally, there are over 6,000 students at the Auburn University at Montgomery satellite campus established in 1967.


Samford Hall, located on College Street in Auburn, is home to the University's administration.

Auburn has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the highest-ranked public university in the state of Alabama for 11 consecutive years and in the 2004 rankings was 44th among the nation's top 50 public universities. The university's core curriculum has been recognized as one of the best in the nation.

The university currently consists of thirteen schools and colleges. Programs in engineering, architecture and business have been ranked among the best in the country and Auburn also boasts strong programs in veterinary medicine, mathematics, science and journalism. The Old Rotation on campus is the oldest continuous agricultural experiment in the Southeast, and third oldest in the United States, dating from 1896. In 2003, Auburn started the first Bachelor of Wireless Engineering degree program in the US.

Schools and year originated:

  • College of Agriculture, 1872
  • College of Architecture, Design and Construction, 1907
  • College of Business, 1967
  • College of Education, 1915
  • Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, 1872
  • School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, 1984
  • College of Human Sciences, 1916
  • College of Liberal Arts, 1986
  • School of Nursing, 1979
  • James Harrison School of Pharmacy, 1885
  • College of Sciences and Mathematics, 1986
  • College of Veterinary Medicine, 1907
  • Graduate School, 1872

Student life


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An early trailer near Auburn.

For most of the early history of Auburn, boarding houses and barracks made up most of the student housing. Even into the 1970s, boarding houses were still available in the community. It wasn't until the great depression that Auburn began to construct the first buildings on campus that were "dorms" in the modern sense of the word. As the university gradually shifted away from agricultural and military instruction to more of an academic institution, more and more dorms began to replace the barracks and boarding houses.

Auburn's first dorms were hardly luxurious. Magnolia Dormitory, built in the 1950s and demolished in 1987, was once used by the state of Alabama in its defense against a lawsuit brought by state prison inmates. The inmates claimed that housing two men in a cell of particularly small dimensions constituted 'cruel and unusual punishment.' The state argued in court that students at Auburn actually paid to live in even smaller living spaces—at Magnolia Dorm. The inmates lost the case.

In the last twenty years, the city of Auburn has experienced a rapid growth in the number of apartment complexes constructed. Most Auburn students today live off-campus in the apartment complexes and condos, which surround the immediate area around the university. Less than 25 percent of Auburn students live on campus.

Auburn's on-campus student housing consists of four complexes located at various locations over campus. The Quad is the oldest of the four, dating to the great depression projects begun by the Works Progress Administration and located in Central Campus. Made up of 11 buildings, the Quad houses mostly undergraduates in coed, alternating-floor buildings. The Hill is made up of 14 buildings and is located in South Campus, though it is traditionally referred to only as "The Hill." The Hill houses mostly undergraduate women with the exception of the two high-rise dormatories (Boyd and Sasnett), which are coed on alternating floors.

The Village is located west of Campus and consists of 19 buildings of one- and two-bedroom apartments. This area was originally designated as married student housing, ideal for students who were already starting small families during their final years at Auburn. However, it now houses mostly undergraduates. The Extension is a block of six buildings, each comprised of two-bedroom apartments housing undergraduates.

Greek life

Male Greeks in Auburn are roughly divided into two separate areas: Old Row and New Row. "Old Row" traditionally was made up of the fraternities whose houses were located along Magnolia Avenue on the north side of campus. "New Row" is made up of fraternities whose houses were located along Lem Morrison Drive southwest of campus. However, being an "Old Row" or "New Row" fraternity doesn't really depend on where the house is located but on the age of the fraternity. Ergo, there are some "Old Row" fraternities with houses on "New Row" Lem Morrison Drive because they moved there. Today's "Old Row" on and around Magnolia Avenue was once the "New Row," as the first generation of fraternity houses at Auburn were on or near College Street. Most of these houses were demolished by the end of the 1970s, and only two fraternity houses remain on College today.

Because of the stipulations of a grant to Auburn made in the early 1900s, female Greek sororities are not allowed to have private houses. Instead, they are housed in the dorms located on the Hill. This had the unintended side effect of keeping dues for these sororities among the lowest in the nation.

Greek Life is important at Auburn, but is not as prevalent as at other institutions such as the University of Alabama. Roughly 18 percent of men and 34 percent of women are in greek organizations at Auburn. Some say that because of the low percentages there is a marked lack of animosity between greeks and independents.

Athletics and traditions


Auburn University's sports teams are known as the Tigers, and they participate in Division I-A of the NCAA and in the Western Division of the 12-member Southeastern Conference (SEC). Auburn routinely fields nationally competitive teams in football, men's and women's swimming and diving, baseball and women's basketball.




Auburn's football team, currently coached by Tommy Tuberville, was voted national champions by the Associated Press in 1957. Two Auburn players, Bo Jackson in 1985 and Pat Sullivan in 1971, have won the Heisman Trophy. The Trophy's namesake, John Heisman, coached at Auburn from 1895 until 1899. Auburn is the only school that Heisman coached at (among others, Georgia Tech and Clemson) that has produced a Heisman Trophy winner. Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium has a capacity of 87,451 ranking as the eighth-largest on-campus stadium in the NCAA as of August 2004. Auburn played the first football game in the Deep South in 1892 against the University of Georgia at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia. The Tigers' first bowl appearance was in 1937 in the sixth Bacardi Bowl played in Havana, Cuba. As of 2004, AU Football has won six SEC Conference Championships and five western division championships. Auburn plays archrival Alabama each year in a game known as the Iron Bowl. However, Alabama has a 38-30-1 lead in the series.

Auburn completed the 2004 football season with an unblemished 13–0 record winning the SEC championship, their first conference title since 1989 and their first outright title since 1987. However, this achievement was somewhat overshadowed by the Tigers being left out of the BCS championship game in deference to two other undefeated, higher ranked teams, USC and Oklahoma. The 2004 team was led by quarterback Jason Campbell, running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, and cornerback Carlos Rogers, all subsequently drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. The team gained a new offensive coordinator, Al Borges, who led the team to use the west coast style offense which maximized the use of both star running backs.

Swimming and diving

In the last decade under head coach David Marsh, Auburn's swimming and diving program has become a virtual dynasty in the SEC and threatens to do the same nationally, with consecutive NCAA championships for both the men and women in 2003 and 2004. The men won their third consecutive title in 2005, and the women were national runner-up to Southeastern Conference rival Georgia. The 2004 championship was the third in a row for the women. The Auburn men have won the SEC Championship eleven out of the last twelve years and also won national championships in 1997 and 1999. Coach Marsh has been an US Olympic coach and AU swimmers have represented the US and several other countries in recent Olympics. Auburn's most famous swimmer is Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines, winner of three gold medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics. Auburn's most successful female Olympic swimmer is Kirsty Coventry (swimming for her home country of Zimbabwe) who won a gold, silver and bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

Men's basketball

The Auburn men's basketball team has enjoyed off-and-on success over the years. Its best known player is Charles Barkley.

Other NBA players from Auburn are Chuck Person, Wesley Person, Chris Porter, Marquis Daniels, Moochie Norris, and Pat Burke.

Women's basketball

The Auburn women's basketball team has been consistently competitive both nationally and within the SEC. Despite playing in the same conference as perenial powerhouse Tennessee and other competitive programs such as LSU, Georgia, and Vanderbilt, Auburn has won four regular season SEC championships and four SEC Tournament championships. AU has made sixteen appearances in the NCAA women's basketball tournament and only once, in the Tigers first appearance in 1982, have the Tigers lost in the first round. Auburn played in three consecutive National Championship games from 1988–1990 and won the Women's NIT in 2003. When Coach Joe Ciampi announced his retirement after twenty-five years at the end of the 2003–2004 season, the resulting search snared the highly experienced, former Purdue and US National and Olympic team head coach, Nell Fortner. Standout former Auburn players include: Ruthie Bolton-Holyfield, Vickie Orr, Carolyn Jones, Chantel Tremitiere and Monique Morehouse.


Auburn Baseball has won six SEC championships, three SEC Tournament championships, appeared in sixteen NCAA Regionals and reached the College World Series (CWS) four times. After a disappointing 2003–2004 season, former Auburn assistant-coach Tom Slater was named head coach. Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park is considered one of the finest facilities in college baseball and has a seating capacity of 4096 not including lawn areas. In addition to Bo Jackson, Auburn has supplied several other stand-out players to Major League Baseball, including Frank Thomas, Gregg Olson, Tim Hudson, Mark Bellhorn and Gabe Gross.


Tiger Walk

Before each Auburn home football game, thousands of Auburn fans line Donahue Avenue to cheer on the team as they walk from Sewell Hall (the athletes' dormitory) to Jordan-Hare Stadium. The tradition began in the 1960s when groups of kids would walk up the street to greet the team and get autographs. During the tenure of coach Doug Barfield, the coach urged fans to come out and support the team, and thousands did. Today the team, led by the coaches, walks down the hill and into the stadium surrounded by fans who pat them on the back and shake their hands as they walk. The largest Tiger Walk occurred on December 2, 1989, before the first ever home football game against rival Alabama—the Iron Bowl. On that day, an estimated 20,000 fans packed the one block section of road leading to the stadium. According to former athletic director David Housel, Tiger Walk has become "the most copied tradition in all of college football."[1]

Toomer's Corner

The intersection of Magnolia and College streets in Auburn, which marks the transition from downtown Auburn to the university campus, is known as Toomer's Corner. It is named after Toomer's Drugs, a small store on the corner that has been an Auburn landmark for over 150 years. Hanging over the corner are two massive old-growth oak trees, and anytime anything good happens concerning Auburn, toilet paper can usually be found hanging from the trees. Also known as "rolling the corner," this tradition is thought to have originated in the 1950s and until the mid 1990s was relegated to only to celebrating athletic wins. However, in recent years it has become a way to celebrate anything good that happens concerning Auburn. In 1995 and 2001, students even rolled the corner to celebrate NCAA probations against arch-rival Alabama.

War Eagle


There are many stories surrounding the origins of Auburn's battle cry, "War Eagle." The most popular account involves the first Auburn football game in 1892 between Auburn and the University of Georgia. According to the story, in the stands that day was an old Civil War soldier with an eagle that he had found injured on a battlefield and kept as a pet. The eagle broke free and began to soar over the field, and Auburn began to march toward the Georgia end-zone. The crowd began to chant, "War Eagle" as the eagle soared. After Auburn won the game, the eagle crashed to the field and died but, according to the legend, his spirit lives on every time an Auburn man or woman yells "War Eagle!" The battle cry of "War Eagle" also functions as a greeting for those associated with the University. For many years, a live golden eagle has embodied the spirit of this tradition. The eagle was once housed on campus in The Eagle's Cage, but the cage was taken down and the eagle moved to a nearby raptor center.

Wreck Tech Pajama Parade

The Wreck Tech Pajama Parade originated in 1896, when a group of mischievous Auburn ROTC cadets, determined to show up the more well-known engineers from Georgia Tech, sneaked out of their dorms the night before the football game between Auburn and Tech and greased the railroad tracks. According to the story, the train carrying the Georgia Tech team slid through town and didn't stop until it was halfway to the neighboring town of Loachapoka, Alabama, The Georgia Tech team was forced to walk the five miles back to Auburn and, not surprisingly, were rather weary at the end of their journey. This likely contributed to their 45–0 loss. While the railroad long ago ceased to be the way teams traveled to Auburn and students never greased the tracks again, the tradition continues in the form of a parade through downtown Auburn. Students parade through the streets in their pajamas and organizations build floats. This tradition has recently been renewed with Georgia Tech returning to Auburn's schedule after nearly two decades of absence.

Selected Student Organizations


  • One of the leading literary journals in the region, The Southern Humanities Review has been published at the University by members of the English faculty, graduate students in English, and the Southern Humanities Council since 1967, publishing the work of nationally known authors such as Kent Nelson, R. T. Smith, and Robert Clark Young
  • Eagle Eye TV News - A weekly 30-minute television news program that is produced by Auburn University students and that airs on-campus, off-campus, and on-demand at the university website.
  • The Auburn Plainsman - the university's student-run newspaper, has won 22 Pacemaker Awards from the Associated College Press since 1966. Only the University of Texas' student paper has won more.
  • WEGL 91.1 FM - The Auburn campus radio station.
  • The Auburn Circle- The student general-interest magazine. The Circle publishes poetry, art, photography, fiction, nonfiction, creative nonficiton, and architectural and indstrial design from the Auburn community.


General Interest


  • Schools and colleges: 13
  • Campus: ~375 buildings on 1,840 acres (7 km²)
  • Library total volumes: 5,316,652


  • 2005 Fall enrollment: 23,333
  • 2005 freshmen:
    • Enrolled: 4,197
    • Average ACT score: 24.1
    • Average high school GPA: 3.52



  • Byron Blagburn; professor of pathobiology specializing in parasitology; developed the PROGRAM flea pill for pets in 1995.
  • Wayne Flynt; a leading authority on Alabaman history and Baptist history in Alabama. The author of eleven books, including the Pulitzer Prize nominated Poor But Proud: Alabama’s Poor Whites.
  • Nels Madsen; engineering professor who won an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for his work on motion-capture technology for computer character animation involving mapping human motion onto the motion of a computer character. He gained recognition when Peter Jackson selected his software for use in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
  • James Voss; former US astronaut and veteran of five spaceflights; teaching courses on Space Mission Design.


Other alumni (did not graduate)


Points of interest

See also


External links

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