Auburn University has developed into one of the largest universities in the South, remaining in the educational forefront with its traditional blend of arts and applied science and changing with the needs of today while living with a respect for the traditions and spirit that are Auburn.
Chartered in 1856, Auburn University opened in 1859 and has had four official names. The university started out as the East Alabama Male College, a Methodist institution. Classes were first held for 80 students with a faculty of six in 1859 at the East Alabama Male College, a Methodist institution. In 1872, the college became a state-owned, land-grant institution and was renamed the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, changing from a private liberal arts school to a state-supported college with emphasis on new scientific and agricultural programs. As expansion continued, the Alabama Legislature decided in 1899 that a new name was needed to reflect the institution’s growth, and the college became the Alabama Polytechnic Institute. As Charles Thach, the university’s sixth president, stated, “The Alabama Polytechnic Institute, a high sounding phrase, is fit for legal documents and grave legislation, but not to conjure with and not to yell and not to dream with as is fair.” The Legislature agreed, and in 1960 the Alabama Polytechnic Institute became Auburn University.