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22 February 2008
Dr. William A. Meehan:
JSU Will Celebrate 125 Years on Feb. 22

By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - The Jacksonville News

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Unite with Jacksonville State University Friday, Feb. 22, as we commemorate the 125th anniversary of an institution, which began as Jacksonville State Normal School in 1883 with the signing of a bill by Gov. Edward O’Neal.

The normal school opened with three instructors, and by 1884 there were 247 names in the roll book. JSU is now near meeting the goal of 10,000 students. In the fall 2007 enrollment numbers for JSU, 247 is the number of international students representing 71 countries studying at the university.

In 1883, normal classes were free and the tuition rose from there and topped out at the collegiate senior paying three dollars per month. For the 2008 fiscal year, JSU took in $42,551,973 in total tuition and fees and now stands as a driving economic force for the city of Jacksonville.

As well as a financial asset to the city, JSU has always resided as a research and educational resource to the community. Within the establishing act, the normal school conducted a preparatory school for children in the town and surrounding areas.

As a university in 2008, Jacksonville State has not drifted from many ideals upon which the institution first began. The College of Education and Professional Studies, a college graduating the largest number of educators in the state, instructs community children through the Teaching/Learning Center (TLC). More than 5,630 children have benefited from instruction at the TLC within the past 20 years.

Tradition plays a tremendous role at Jacksonville State University. In 1930, the university seal was adopted under President Clarence W. Daugette. Within the ribbon under the crest is the Latin inscription, “Exegi monumentum ere perennius,” which translates, “I have reared a monument more enduring than bronze.”

The characteristic which distinguishes JSU as a leading regional comprehensive institution is strength of tradition lying as a foundation on which to build a transcendental future. Daugette, one of 11 presidents to serve JSU, is an example of the dedicated leadership and eyes for enhancement the university has been fortunate to experience and which I strive to continue.

In The First Hundred Years, a book detailing a century of history of JSU, Effie Sawyer wrote, “For 43 years Daugette was an energizing force in a growing education center. With keen business ability in managing meager resources and a firm resolution to expand facilities, he dreamed and built as the years passed. He laid the foundation for Jacksonville State University and for the students who would become leaders in Alabama and throughout this country.”

The drive fostered by Daugette was followed and increased by his successor, Dr. Houston Cole. In her book, Sawyer noted that many ‘firsts’ of JSU are credited to Dr. Cole. Under his administration, 24 buildings and two annexes were built or begun and the college became a state university with a student government, ROTC program, nursing school, football stadium and police academy, among other firsts.

Over the past several years, the university has had the opportunity to celebrate milestone anniversaries for organizations, which represent the excellence upon which it is founded. Beginning with a vision, growing with strategic planning and hard work, and carrying over all traditions which exude excellence are components of survival for an organization on campus. Last year, the Southerners and Marching Ballerinas hosted a 50-year reunion and in 2006, the International House celebrated 60 years in Paris.

Tradition is an important aspect of every part of JSU—from 1883 to 2008. As the university celebrates 125 years as an educating institution, we look to maintain core values and ideas serving as our base and foundation, sustaining excellence while moving forward.

“Our Vision: Jacksonville State University will be the regional comprehensive institution of choice for students who want a strong, high quality education. Students will be challenged academically by dedicated and accessible faculty and have access to the latest technology to ensure success in an expanding global community. Curriculum offerings will utilize developing methods of instruction to eliminate barriers of time and distance and allow the JSU experience to transcend regional boundaries. Highly responsive services that demonstrate the institution’s commitment to continuous improvement will ensure JSU’s reputation as the friendliest campus in the South.”

Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and Communications, contributed to this article.

About William A. Meehan

Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.

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