Alcorn State University

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]


Name Years[7][8] Interim
Hiram Rhodes Revels 1871–1882 No
John Houston Burrus 1882–1893 No
Wilson H. Reynolds 1893–1894 No
Thomas J. Calloway 1894–1896 No
Edward H. Triplett 1896–1899 No
William H. Lanier 1899–1905 No
Levi John Rowan 1905–1911 No
John Adams Martin 1911–1915 No
Levi John Rowan 1915–1934 No
Isiah S. Sanders, Acting President 1934–1934 No
William Harrison Bell 1934–1944 No
Preston Sewell Bowles 1944–1945 No
William Harrison Pipes 1945–1949 No
Jesse R. Otis 1949–1957 No
John Dewey Boyd 1957–1969 No
Walter Washington 1969–1994 No
Rudolph E. Waters Sr. 1994–1995 Yes
Clinton Bristow Jr. 1995–2006 No
Malvin A. Williams Sr. 2006–2008 Yes
George E. Ross 2008–2010 No
Norris Allen Edney 2010–2011 Yes
M. Christopher Brown II 2011–2013 No
Norris Edney 2013–2014 Yes
Alfred Rankins, Jr. 2014–2017 No
Donzell Lee 2017-present yes


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

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Medgar Evers 1948 First NAACP field secretary and well-known civil rights activist [1]
Albert Butler 1970 Mississippi State Senator [2]
Horace R. Cayton, Sr. c.1880s Journalist and politician, who was one of first blacks to serve on county and state delegations in Seattle, Washington [18]
Chandra Minor 2008 First African-American female orthodontist in Mississippi [19]
Katie G. Dorsett Member of the North Carolina Senate from the 28th district
Alex Haley Author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family
Kimberly Morgan Miss Mississippi 2007
Michael Clarke Duncan attended Actor
Alexander O’Neal attended Musician
Ed Smith Former alderman of the 28th ward in Chicago, Illinois from 1983 to 2010.
Joseph Edison Walker 1903 President of Universal Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee
Adena Williams Loston 1973 President of St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Jack Spinks 1952 Former professional football player for the New York Giants
Willie Alexander 1971 Former professional football player for the Houston Oilers
Jimmie Giles 1977 Former professional football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Leslie Frazier 1980 Defensive 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 Young 1980 Former professional football player for the Philadelphia Eagles
Issiac Holt 1985 Former professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys
Milton Mack Former professional football player for the Detroit Lions
Fred McNair Former Professional Canadian and Arena football player, brother of Steve McNair, and Head Coach of Alcorn State Football
Cedric Tillman 1992 Former professional football player for the Denver Broncos
Dwayne White Former professional football player for the St. Louis Rams
Garry Lewis Former professional football player for the Oakland Raiders
Torrance Small 1992 Former NFL player for the New Orleans Saints
John Thierry 1994 Former NFL player for the Chicago Bears
Steve McNair 1996 Former professional quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens
Bryant Mix 1997 Former NFL player for the Houston Oilers
Donald Driver 1999 Former professional football player for the Green Bay Packers
Chad Slaughter 2000 Former Professional football player for the Oakland Raiders
Louis Green 2002 Former NFL player for the Denver Broncos
Charlie Spiller 2007 Former NFL player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nate Hughes 2008 Former NFL player for the Detroit Lions
Larry Smith 1980 Former NBA player and assistant coach in the NBA and WNBA.
Lee Robinson 2009 Professional football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos
Emmanuel Arceneaux 2009 Current CFL and former NFL player
Frank Purnell Former professional football player for the Green Bay Packers
Damien Wilson Linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, transferred out of Alcorn after his freshman season
Iris Kyle 10-time overall Ms. Olympia professional bodybuilder

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