Clark Atlanta University
Clark Atlanta University (CAU), located southwest of downtown Atlanta, is a private, urban, coeducational institution of higher education.
CAU was formed by the consolidation of Atlanta University and Clark College. In 1987 the boards of trustees of the two parent institutions authorized an exploration of the possible advantages of closer working arrangements, and in 1988 the joint committee submitted its report for ratification, recommending that the two schools be consolidated as one institution. On June 24, 1988, both boards agreed to the consolidation recommendation, and on July 1, 1988, CAU was established. It inherited the rich traditions of two independent institutions, which were connected over the years by common heritage, commitment, consortia relationships, and location.
The Atlanta University and Clark College Heritage
Before consolidation Atlanta University, founded in 1865, was the nation's oldest graduate institution serving a predominantly African American student body.
The story of Atlanta University from 1930 through 1950 includes several noteworthy developments. The Schools of Library Service (later the School of Library and Information Studies), Education, and Business Administration were established in 1941, 1944, and 1946 respectively. In 1947 the Atlanta School of Social Work, long associated with the university, became an integral part of the school, and in 2001 it was renamed the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work. In 1994 the School of International Affairs and Development, which now operates within the School of Arts and Sciences, admitted its first students.
Clark College was founded in 1869
Bishop Gilbert Haven, an early benefactor, saw Clark as the university of all the Methodist schools founded for the education of freedmen. Clark was founded to set a standard for other MEC educational institutions for African American youth. Bishop Haven was instrumental in acquiring 450 acres in south Atlanta, and after several changes in location the institution moved there in 1883. Also in 1883, Clark established the Gammon School of Theology, named in honor of Elijah H. Gammon, which in 1888 became an independent theological seminary and is now part of the Interdenominational Theological Center.
In the 1930s Clark joined the Atlanta University complex for purposes of economy and efficiency, and in the winter of 1939, work was begun on an entirely new physical plant adjoining Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. In 1957 the boards of the six institutions (Atlanta University; Clark, Morehouse, Morris Brown, and Spelman colleges; and Gammon Theological Seminary) ratified the Articles of Affiliation, creating the Atlanta University Center, which today also includes the Morehouse School of Medicine.
Over the years many distinguished scholars have taught at Atlanta University and Clark College.
Noted alumni include James Weldon Johnson, the nineteenth-century author, statesman, and composer; Henry O. Flipper, the first African American graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York (he attended Atlanta University for only one year); Louis Tompkins Wright, the first African American surgeon to head the Department of Surgery at Harlem Hospital in New York; Horace E. Tate, who oversaw the merger of the black and white teachers' associations in Georgia and was a state senator for many years; Judge Horace T. Ward, the first black student to legally challenge segregation in higher education in the Deep South; the civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy; Marva Collins, an educator and the founder of the Westside Preparatory School in Chicago, whose innovative approaches to teaching at-risk youth have gained national recognition; Reatha Clark King, the former president of the General Mills Foundation; the writer Pearl Cleage; and Kenny Leon, the actor and former artistic director of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre.
The Consolidated Clark Atlanta University
With 4,900 students and 298 faculty members in 2003,
The influence of the university has been extended through professional journals and organizations,
CAU's radio station, WCLK 91.9 FM, broadcasts traditional and contemporary jazz, gospel, blues, Latin, and reggae throughout the metropolitan Atlanta area, serving more than 100,000 listeners each week.
The CAU art galleries include the renowned historic African American art collection, located in Trevor Arnett Hall. The university also houses small but notable African and contemporary art collections. Highlighting these treasures is a series of six murals, titled Art of the Negro, painted by Hale Woodruff.
A meaningful outgrowth of the consolidation of Atlanta University and Clark College was the establishment of the Clark Atlanta University Guild. It was founded in 1992 by Brenda Hill Cole, the wife of then-president Thomas Cole, to increase local awareness of the university's contribution to the academic and cultural life of Atlanta, and to support a scholarship program for the Arts and Humanities Division of the School of Arts and Sciences. The guild's primary fund-raiser is the Jazz Under the Stars Concert, which has featured, among others, the performers Nancy Wilson, Wynton Marsalis, Roberta Flack, James Moody, and Roy Ayers. In its first twelve years the guild's annual concert has raised more than $1 million and awarded 176 scholarships to students in the arts and humanities. Guild members include women on the CAU faculty and staff, alumnae, community leaders, and business leaders. The honorary chair of the guild is Angel Broadnax, the wife of CAU president Walter Broadnax.
CAU's enduring mission is to produce graduates who have met standards of excellence in contemporary higher education, who are educated to be creative, and who have a perspective on the world and its peoples that commits them not only to excel in their professional careers and personal lives but also to seek new knowledge and solutions to the problems of humankind.
Clarence A. Bacote, The Story of Atlanta University: A Century of Service, 1865-1965 (Atlanta: Atlanta University, 1969).
James P. Brawley, The Clark College Legacy: An Interpretive History of Relevant Education, 1869-1975 (Atlanta: Clark College, 1977).
Earle D. Clowney, Clark Atlanta University
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.