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Alcorn State University (shortened to Alcorn StateASU or Alcorn) is a public, historically black, comprehensive, land-grant institution located northwest of Lorman, Mississippi in rural Claiborne County. It was founded in 1871 by the Reconstruction-era legislature to provide higher education for freedmen. It is the first black land grant college established in the United States. Its main campus is approximately 80 miles southwest of Jackson, Mississippi.

One of Alcorn’s most notable alumni, Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist, graduated in 1952. Students at the college were part of the mid-twentieth century civil rights movement, working to register residents for voting and struggling to end racial inequality. Other alumni have been activists, politicians and professionals in Mississippi and other states. The university is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Alcorn State’s athletic teams known as the Braves and compete in the NCAA’s Division I. All teams compete as members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)


Alcorn State University was founded at the former Oakland College, a school for whites established by the Presbyterian Church. Oakland College closed its doors at the beginning of the American Civil War because of the outbreak of war; most students enlisted in the military. When the college failed to reopen at the end of the war, the property was sold to the state of Mississippi. It renamed the facility as Alcorn University in 1871 in honor of James L. Alcorn, then the state’s governor, and established it as a land grant institution and historically black college[3][4]

This was the first black land grant college in the country. Congress required that states with segregated educational institutions (as was maintained throughout the former Confederacy) designate black land grant colleges in order to receive land grant monies for white colleges, as Congress had authorized the program to benefit students of all races. Alcorn University started with what are recognized as three historic buildings.[5]

United States Senator Hiram R. Revels resigned his seat when he accepted the position as Alcorn’s first president. The state legislature provided $50,000 in cash for ten successive years for the establishment and overall operations of the college. The state also granted Alcorn three-fifths of the proceeds earned from the sale of 30,000 acres (12,000 ha) of land scrip for agricultural or land grant colleges under federal legislation. The land was sold for $188,928 with Alcorn receiving a share of $113,400. This money was to be used solely to support the agricultural and mechanical components of the college, which Congress wanted to develop nationally. From its beginning, Alcorn State University was a land-grant college.

In 1878, the name Alcorn University was changed to Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College. The university’s original 225 acres (0.91 km2) of land have been expanded to develop a 1,700 acres (6.9 km2) campus. The goals for the college set by the Mississippi legislature following the Reconstruction era emphasized training for blacks rather than academic education. The school, like other black schools during these years, was less a college than a vocational school intended to prepare students for the agricultural economy of the state and of most of their hometowns.

At first the school was exclusively for black males, but women were admitted in 1895. Today, women outnumber men at the university 1800 to 1200. Alcorn began with eight faculty members in 1871. Today the faculty and staff number more than 500. The student body has grown from 179 mostly local male students to more than 4,000 students from all over the world.

In 1974, Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College was renamed Alcorn State University, representing the development of its programs. Governor William L. Waller signed House Bill 298 granting university status to Alcorn and the other state-supported colleges. Alcorn had already become a more diversified university, with graduate programs. It provides an undergraduate education that enables students to continue their work in graduate and professional schools, engage in teaching, and enter other professions. It also provides graduate education to equip students for further training in specialized fields.

While early graduates of Alcorn had limited job opportunities, some recent alumni have become physicians, lawyers, pharmacists, dentists, educators, administrators, managers, and entrepreneurs.

Alcorn State is accredited, with seven schools and degree programs in more than fifty areas, including a nursing and a Master of Business Administration program. The facilities number approximately 80 modern structures with an approximate value of $71 million.[6]


Hiram Rhodes Revels1871–1882No
John Houston Burrus1882–1893No
Wilson H. Reynolds1893–1894No
Thomas J. Calloway1894–1896No
Edward H. Triplett1896–1899No
William H. Lanier1899–1905No
Levi John Rowan1905–1911No
John Adams Martin1911–1915No
Levi John Rowan1915–1934No
Isiah S. Sanders, Acting President1934–1934No
William Harrison Bell1934–1944No
Preston Sewell Bowles1944–1945No
William Harrison Pipes1945–1949No
Jesse R. Otis1949–1957No
John Dewey Boyd1957–1969No
Walter Washington1969–1994No
Rudolph E. Waters Sr.1994–1995Yes
Clinton Bristow Jr.1995–2006No
Malvin A. Williams Sr.2006–2008Yes
George E. Ross2008–2010No
Norris Allen Edney2010–2011Yes
M. Christopher Brown II2011–2013No
Norris Edney2013–2014Yes
Alfred Rankins, Jr.2014–2017No
Donzell Lee2017-presentyes


Alcorn State is the second largest HBCU and fifth largest university in Mississippi with an enrollment of approximately 3,700 undergraduate students and 600 graduate students. The university has seven schools, offering more than 50 different fields of study.

  • School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences
  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Business
  • School of Education and Psychology
  • School of Nursing

Alcorn State University consistently ranks among the top 25 HBCUs in the nation according to the annual U.S. News & World Report HBCU rankings.[9]

Alcorn State University is the only HBCU in Mississippi with a comprehensive nursing program.[10]

Alcorn’s honors program is an option for highly qualified undergraduate students who wish to enhance their academic experience and leadership skills.[11]

Master of Business Administration (MBA) program

Alcorn State University offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program through its Natchez campus. Classes are conducted in the evening. Students may join the live lecture classes via a live internet feed. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), a global accrediting body for business degree programs. The MBA program has been popular with international and out-of-state students.

Global programs

Besides coordinating study-abroad opportunities, Global Programs brings worldwide perspectives to campus through exchange programs and special events.[12]

Pre-professional programs

Alcorn offers pre-professional programs to better prepare students for a transition to specialized studies in the fields of law, engineering, nursing, physical therapy, medicine, pharmacy and dentistry.[13]


Alcorn State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Specialist in Education degrees.

Alcorn’s teacher education program is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics is accredited by the American Dietetics Association. The Associate of Science in Nursing degree, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, and the Master of Science in Nursing degree programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Alcorn State University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Association of Industrial Technology, and the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.


The main campus is located near Lorman, Mississippi. The Nursing School and the Business School’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program are located in Natchez, Mississippi. The university also has a class center in Vicksburg.

Main campus

The main campus is located in rural southwestern Mississippi, 45 miles (72 km) south of Vicksburg,[14] 40 miles (64 km) north of Natchez, and 80 miles (130 km) southwest of Jackson.[15]

Male residence halls include Medgar Wiley Evers Heritage Village Complex and Hiram Revels Hall.[16] Female residence halls include Medgar Wiley Evers Heritage Village Complex buildings A and B, John Burrus Hall, and the Female Honors Residence Hall.[17]

Recent Campus Additions include:

  • 5 mi (8.0 km) Bike/Walking Trail
  • Foster Baseball Field at McGowan Stadium
  • Medgar Wiley Evers Heritage Village (student housing)
  • Clinton Bristow Dining Hall
  • Ecology and Natural Resources Building
  • BioTechnology Building
  • Fine Arts Building Renovations/ Band Hall Addition
  • Lanier Hall renovated into the Student Housing Office
  • Old President House renovated into the Alumni House

Current and planned construction projects include:

  • School of Business (Dumas Hall) renovations
  • Rowan Hall renovations into the Student Health Center
  • Bowles Hall renovations into the Executive Administration Building
  • Student Housing Phase II/ Faculty Housing
  • Technology Classroom Building

Other locations

Alcorn State has campuses in Natchez and Vicksburg.


Alcorn athletics logoMain article: Alcorn State Braves and Lady BravesSee also: Alcorn State Braves football and Alcorn State Braves men’s basketball

Jay Searcy of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote in 1994 that Alcorn had “a gritty football team that has sent over 60 players to the National Football League“.[14] His article was chiefly about NFL quarterback and former Alcorn State player Steve McNair.

Sounds of Dyn-O-mite

Alcorn State University’s marching band was founded in the 1960s; the band is known as the “Sounds of Dyn-O-mite” (SOD). Led by five drum majors, SOD has more than 190+ members.

The “Golden Girls” (GGs) is the established dance squad that has been featured with SOD since its inception.

Notable alumni

NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
Medgar Evers1948First NAACP field secretary and well-known civil rights activist[1]
Albert Butler1970Mississippi State Senator[2]
Horace R. Cayton, Sr.c.1880sJournalist and politician, who was one of first blacks to serve on county and state delegations in Seattle, Washington[18]
Chandra Minor2008First African-American female orthodontist in Mississippi[19]
Katie G. DorsettMember of the North Carolina Senate from the 28th district
Alex HaleyAuthor of Roots: The Saga of an American Family
Kimberly MorganMiss Mississippi 2007
Michael Clarke DuncanattendedActor
Alexander O’NealattendedMusician
Ed SmithFormer alderman of the 28th ward in Chicago, Illinois from 1983 to 2010.
Joseph Edison Walker1903President of Universal Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee
Adena Williams Loston1973President of St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas


NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
Jack Spinks1952Former professional football player for the New York Giants
Willie Alexander1971Former professional football player for the Houston Oilers
Jimmie Giles1977Former professional football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Leslie Frazier1980Defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, former defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, former special assistant coach with the Indianapolis Colts
Roynell Young1980Former professional football player for the Philadelphia Eagles
Issiac Holt1985Former professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys
Milton MackFormer professional football player for the Detroit Lions
Fred McNairFormer Professional Canadian and Arena football player, brother of Steve McNair, and Head Coach of Alcorn State Football
Cedric Tillman1992Former professional football player for the Denver Broncos
Dwayne WhiteFormer professional football player for the St. Louis Rams
Garry LewisFormer professional football player for the Oakland Raiders
Torrance Small1992Former NFL player for the New Orleans Saints
John Thierry1994Former NFL player for the Chicago Bears
Steve McNair1996Former professional quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens
Bryant Mix1997Former NFL player for the Houston Oilers
Donald Driver1999Former professional football player for the Green Bay Packers
Chad Slaughter2000Former Professional football player for the Oakland Raiders
Louis Green2002Former NFL player for the Denver Broncos
Charlie Spiller2007Former NFL player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nate Hughes2008Former NFL player for the Detroit Lions
Larry Smith1980Former NBA player and assistant coach in the NBA and WNBA.
Lee Robinson2009Professional football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos
Emmanuel Arceneaux2009Current CFL and former NFL player
Frank PurnellFormer professional football player for the Green Bay Packers
Damien WilsonLinebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, transferred out of Alcorn after his freshman season
Iris Kyle10-time overall Ms. Olympia professional bodybuilder

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