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The beginning of Kentucky State University (KSU) in 1886 is celebrated on this date. It is one of over 100 Historical Black Colleges and Universities in America (HBCUs).
From its start as a small normal school for training black teachers for the Black schools of Kentucky, KSU has grown and evolved. John Henry Jackson was their first president. KSU has become one of the state's unique liberal studies institutions, serving students regardless of race, age, sex, national origin, or economic status. The University was chartered in May 1886 as the State Normal School for Colored Persons, only the second state-supported institution of higher learning in Kentucky.
During the euphoria of Frankfort’s 1886 centennial celebration, when vivid recollections of the Civil War remained, the city’s 4,000 residents were keenly interested in having the new institution located in Frankfort. Toward that end, the city donated $1,500, a considerable amount in 1886 dollars, and a site on a scenic bluff overlooking the town. This united display of community enthusiasm and commitment won the day. The new college was located in Frankfort despite competition from several other cities.
Recitation Hall (now Jackson Hall), the college’s first building, was erected in 1887. The new school opened on October 11, 1887, with three teachers, 55 students, and John H. Jackson as president.
This development continued into the 20th century in both name and program. In 1902, the name was changed to Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons and, in 1926, to Kentucky State Industrial College for Colored Persons. In the early 1930s, the high school was discontinued, and in 1938 the school was named the Kentucky State College for Negroes. The term "for Negroes" was dropped in 1952. Kentucky State College became a university in 1972, and a year later, in 1973, the first graduate students enrolled in its School of Public Affairs.
In 1982, an additional mission was added. KSU aimed to become a major repository for collecting artifacts, books, and records related to its history of educating black citizens; the Center of Excellence for the Study of Kentucky African Americans (CESKAA) houses that collection.
Moving into the 21st century, the university's enrollment and faculty have more than doubled. Twenty-nine new structures or major building expansions have improved Kentucky State University's 511-acre campus, which includes a 203-acre agricultural research farm. This century, K-State continues its evolution as a coeducational, liberal arts institution. Notable Alumni include Anita Boswell, Ellis Wilson, and others.