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Tuskegee to celebrate 91st Founder's Day

TUSKEGEE, Ala. – Tuskegee University will celebrate its 91st Founder’s Day at 9:30 a.m. CDT April 6 in the University Chapel on campus. The convocation will honor the school’s founder, Booker T. Washington.

Kenneth M. Hamilton, an associate professor in the Department of History and director of the Ethnics Studies program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, will deliver the keynote address.

He has held previous positions at Ohio State University, Memphis State University, Washington University and Kansas State University. He began his career as a social studies teacher in the Topeka, Kan., public school system.

Among Hamilton’s extensive list of publications and contributions to scholarly journals are: “White Wealth and Black Repression: Blacks in Harrison County, Texas, 1865-1868” in the Journal of Negro History and “African Americans after Reconstruction and During the Booker T. Washington Era,” a chapter in American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship.

Hamilton is currently writing a book-length study, Booker T. Washington: America’s Memory of a National Icon. The work is about America’s initial response to the death of the renowned educator and founder of Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University.

According to Hamilton, “This study will clearly demonstrate how changing prevailing political views of America's opinion-makers have altered Washington's public memory during his post-death years. Numerous scholars have constructed analytical models for the discussion of the years after 1895 based, in part, on their respective interpretations of the historic persona of Washington. Thus, this study will make a major contribution to understanding how knowledge of the African American experience is constructed.”

The Founder’s Day Convocation will feature addresses from student government, alumni and Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, University president. Payton will also recognize the descendants of Washington and the reunion classes of 1928, 1933, 1938, 1943, 1948, 1953, 1958, 1963 and 1968.

Tuskegee University was founded in a one room shanty, near Butler Chapel AME Zion Church, 30 adults represented the first class – Washington the first teacher. The founding date was July 4, 1881, authorized by House Bill 165.

Since its inception, the University has grown to be home to approximately 3,000 students. The academic programs are organized into five Colleges: (1) the College of Agricultural, Environmental and Natural Sciences; (2) the College of Business and Information Science; (3) the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Physical Sciences; (4) the College of Liberal Arts and Education; and (5) the College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health.

The curricula for the five colleges currently offer 49 degrees including 39 Bachelor’s, 13 Master’s, two Doctor's of Philosophy: one in Materials Science and Engineering and one in Integrative BioSciences, and~the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

The University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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