Auburn University today is a comprehensive land, sea and space grant institution – among the few that hold that distinction – occupying more than 1,840 acres and helping fulfill the dreams of nearly 25,000 students.
The university began, though, as the small, more humble East Alabama Male College, which was chartered in 1856 and opened its doors in 1859 as a private liberal arts institution.
From 1861 to 1866 the college was closed because of the Civil War. The college had begun an affiliation with the Methodist Church before the war. Due to dire financial straits, the church transferred legal control of the institution to the state in 1872, making it the first land-grant college in the South to be established separate from the state university. It thus became the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama.
A land-grant college or university is an institution that has been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. The original mission of these institutions, as set forth in the first Morrill Act, was to teach agriculture, military tactics, and the mechanical arts as well as classical studies so that members of the working classes could obtain a liberal, practical education.
Women were admitted in 1892, making Auburn the oldest four-year, coeducational school in the state and the second-oldest in the Southeast. In 1899, the name was again changed to the Alabama Polytechnic Institute. In 1960, the school officially acquired the name it has long been called and one more in keeping with its location, size, and mission — Auburn University. The institution has experienced its greatest growth since World War II, and now has more than 250,000 graduates.
Auburn University at Montgomery was established as a separately accredited campus in 1967. The institution has developed rapidly, especially since moving to a 500-acre campus east of Montgomery in 1971. Current enrollment at AUM is about 5,200.
Chartered in 1856, Auburn University opened in 1859 and became affiliated with the Methodist Church.
Throughout the years, the institution has had four official names:
East Alabama Male College (1856-72)
Agricultural and Mechanical College (1872-99)
Alabama Polytechnic Institute (1899-1960)
Auburn University (1960-present)
Auburn's Vision is to lead and shape the future of higher education.
Our vision describes the aspiration for Auburn University 20 years in the future. It is deliberately intended to be lofty — realistic and ever challenging while also bold and ambitious. It is a challenge to ourselves to achieve greatness. Our vision is an invitation to the Auburn Family and those who do not yet know Auburn University to join us in our quest to inspire, innovate, and transform.
Auburn University has established itself as an excellent comprehensive, public land-grant university. However, excellence is not enough. We aspire to become a world-renowned institution that excels in education, research, and service—and to become a model of higher education. We understand that higher education is on the precipice of change. We intend to lead and shape that change.
Our goals describe Auburn University’s highest priorities for the next five years. The accomplishment of these goals will best position our institution to achieve its 20-year vision.
As a land-grant institution, Auburn University is dedicated to improving the lives of the people of Alabama, the nation, and the world through forward-thinking education, life-enhancing research and scholarship, and selfless service.
Auburn University’s mission concisely describes our central purpose. Our mission statement begins with a reference to the university’s origins and obligations as a public land-grant university. The 1862 Morrill Act created institutions of higher education that focused on agriculture and mechanical arts—a response to changing social and economic conditions. Land-grant universities would provide practical solutions to pressing societal problems and provide higher education to a much broader segment of American citizenry. Land-grant universities would eventually serve as the creators of economic opportunity and development. As such, we must never lose sight of the important educational, research and service responsibilities inherent in our land-grant lineage. Subsequent to its founding as a land-grant university, Auburn has also been designated, through federal legislation, as a sea-grant and space-grant university.
Our first responsibility is to educate our students and prepare them for life. We endeavor to expand their minds, broaden their experiences, and hone their capabilities by imparting both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Our goal is to empower and inspire our students to be their very best and to achieve their hopes and dreams. A key element of our public charter and of the Auburn Creed is to ensure our students are instilled with a strong work ethic, sound character traits, and core values of honesty and respect. We encourage students to make valuable contributions and to lead their fellow citizens in creating meaningful change. This responsibility to build moral character and inculcate active social responsibility distinguishes the student experience at all land-grant universities, and certainly at Auburn University.
Our second responsibility is to drive the development of research and scholarship that creates and advances knowledge. We support, build upon, and leverage the expertise of our faculty, students, and partners to discover, innovate, and create new science, new technologies, and new applications and methodologies that tangibly improve our world.
Our third responsibility, engagement and outreach, leverages the value of the first two elements. Our duty is to enable our students, graduates, faculty and partners to transform the fruits of our research and scholarship into products, methods, and services that meet our communities’ most pressing needs. Delivering real-world, practical solutions is what sets land-grant universities apart and is core to Auburn University’s foundation.
To be among the best land-grant universities, we must continue to excel in all three responsibilities. This requires leveraging the synergy found in the interchange of education, research, and service to maximize our impact on Alabama and the world.