For almost a century the University of Memphis has been a catalyst for progress in the city of Memphis, the state of Tennessee and the surrounding Mid-South region. From its inception as a normal school dedicated to the education of public school teachers, to its role today as an educator of technologically-savvy graduates who face a complex world, the University of Memphis has always fulfilled its current mission while looking forward to and planning for its future.
Exceptional students from Tennessee, from every other state in the nation and from almost 100 countries around the world choose to attend the University of Memphis. They come here on the recommendation of their major professors at European universities; they come here to study subjects that are offered nowhere else; they come to study alongside men and women who are recognized and respected throughout the academic and scientific communities as foremost in their fields.
Ever forward-looking, the University of Memphis is poised to enter one of its most historic and productive periods. From the faculty and staff we have in place to our alumni and benefactors, our "people assets" have never been more willing, able and generous in their efforts to build an academic environment that makes a life-long impact on the young minds at the U of M.
The University of Memphis was founded under the auspices of the General Education Bill, enacted by the Tennessee Legislature in 1909. Known originally as West Tennessee State Normal School, the institution opened its doors Sept. 10, 1912, with Dr. Seymour A. Mynders as president.
Students in the first classes selected blue and gray as the school colors and the tiger as the mascot. Tradition holds that the colors, those of the opposing armies during the Civil War, were chosen in commemoration of the reuniting of the country after that divisive conflict.
Over the next decade, The Desoto yearbook was created, the first library was opened in the Administration Building, the first dining hall was built and the first men's dorm was built; today that dorm, Scates Hall, houses the College of Arts and Sciences' Dean's offices.
The college changed names again in 1941, becoming Memphis State College, and in 1946, J. Millard "Jack" Smith became president - the first alumnus to hold the position. In 1950 graduate studies were initiated, and in 1954 the school switched from a quarter to a semester system.
In 1957 the state legislature designated Memphis State full university status. In 1959 the university admitted its first African American students, and the first doctoral programs began in 1966. The 1970s, under President Cecil C. Humphreys, saw new buildings constructed across the campus, including a University Center and a 12-story library. In 1983 MSU became the first public university in Tennessee to gain accreditation of its entire curriculum.
Today, the University of Memphis is one of Tennessee's three comprehensive doctoral-extensive institutions of higher learning. Situated in a beautiful park-like setting in the state's largest city, it is the flagship of the Tennessee Board of Regents system. It awards more than 3,000 degrees annually.
With an enrollment of almost 23,000 students, The University of Memphis has 26 Chairs of Excellence, more than any other Tennessee university, and five state-approved Centers of Excellence.
Facts at a Glance
Dr. Shirley C. Raines
1912 as West Tennessee State Normal School
1,160 acres and 202 buildings at eight sites
Local Economic Impact
Enrollment (for Fall 2011)
Law School 419
The University of Memphis is fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Approximately 2,500 employees including 930 full-time faculty
|Martin S. Belz (1972)||President of Belz Enterprises|
|Isaac Bruce (1997)||NFL Football Player|
|Dixie Carter (1963)||Actress|
|Kellye Cash (1987)||Miss America 1987|
|Robert N. Clement (1968)||Former U.S. Congressman|
|Steve Cohen (1973)||U.S. Congressman|
|Eric Jerome Dickey (1983)||Best-Selling Author|
|Bernice Donald (1974)||Judge, Federal District Court|
|William B. Dunavant Jr. (1954)||Chairman of Dunavant Enterprises|
|John Dye (1996)||Actor|
|Larry Finch (1973)||Former Memphis Basketball Head Coach|
|Anfernee Hardaway (1993)||NBA Basketball Player|
|Dr. W.W. Herenton (1966)||Mayor, City of Memphis|
|Barbara Walker Hummel (1947)||Miss America 1947|
|Craig Leake (1969)||Television Producer|
|R. Brad Martin (1976)||Chairman of the Board/CEO, SAKS Inc.|
|Wink Martindale (1957)||Television Personality|
|Elliot Perry (1991)||Former NBA Basketball Player|
|William Sanderson (1968)||Actor|
|Lynda Mead Shea (1968)||Miss America 1960|
|Charles C. Thompson (1964)||Author and TV Producer|
|Fred Thompson (1964)||Actor and 2008 Presidential Candidate|
|Pat Kerr Tigrett (1963)||International Fashion Designer|
|Tamika Whitmore (1999)||WNBA (2006 All-Star)|
|Lorenzen Wright (1996)||NBA Basketball Player|
|Dan Uggla (2001)||MLB (2006 All-Star)|