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Wed, 09.28.1892

Winston-Salem State University Begins Classes

*On this date in 1892, Winston-Salem State University WSSU) was founded.  It is one of over 100 Historical Black Colleges and Universities in America.  

WSSU began as the Slater Industrial Academy by Simon Green Atkins in Winston Salem, N.C. Atkins had an audacious vision to create an institution where every student would meet the challenges of the day equipped with an education designed to prepare the “head, hand, and heart intellectually.” Twenty-five students attended classes in a one-room frame structure and were taught by a single instructor.  

In 1925, the General Assembly of North Carolina recognized the school’s curriculum above high school, changed its name to Winston-Salem Teachers College, and empowered it under the authority of the State Board of Education to confer appropriate degrees. Winston-Salem Teachers College thus became the first Black institution in the nation to grant degrees for teaching the elementary grades.  In response to a growing medical community emerging in the Winston-Salem area, the School of Nursing was established in 1953, awarding graduates the degree of Bachelor of Science.

Recognizing the university’s growing curriculum and expanding role, the North Carolina General Assembly of 1963 authorized changing the name from Winston-Salem Teachers College to Winston-Salem State College.  A statute designating Winston-Salem State College as Winston-Salem State University received legislative approval in 1969. In 1972, Winston-Salem State University became one of the 16 constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina, subject to the control of a Board of Governors.  Since its founding, Winston-Salem State University has grown from a one-room frame structure to more than 39 buildings on a picturesque 117-acre campus overlooking the woodlands of Salem Lake in the heart of Winston-Salem.  

The university is currently number one in the UNC system for North Carolina job placement for graduates and number one in the UNC system for the average salary for triad-area graduates. It is home to an award-winning student activities center, top 25 division II football, basketball, and baseball programs, and offers students 100-plus student organizations.   With a faculty-to-student ratio 16:1, the university enrolls approximately 5,100 students and offers more than 40 bachelor’s programs, nine master’s programs, two professional doctoral programs, and two certificate programs.  

Through the Division of Lifelong Learning, non-traditional students can pursue studies through evening-weekend, summer, distance learning, and continuing education classes.  Notable alumni include Selma Burke, Louis Farrakhan, and others.




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Black is what the prisons are, The stagnant vortex of the hours Swept into totality, Creeping in the perjured heart, Bitter in the vulgar rhyme, Bitter on the walls; Black is where the devils... THE AFRICAN AFFAIR by Bruce M. Wright.
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