Clark Atlanta University

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Clark Atlanta University
Clark Atlanta University Seal
Motto"I'll Find a Way or Make One" (Atlanta University); "Culture for Service" (Clark College)[1]
EstablishedJuly 1, 1988 (1988-07-01)
Atlanta University (1865)
Clark College (1869)
TypePrivate, HBCU[2]
Religious affiliationUnited Methodist Church
Endowment$44.2 million[3]
PresidentCarlton E. Brown
LocationAtlanta, Georgia,
United States
CampusUrban, 126 acres (0.5 km2)
ColorsRed, black, gray[4]
AthleticsNCAA Division II[4]
NicknameBlack Panther[4]
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Clark Atlanta University
Clark Atlanta University Seal
Motto"I'll Find a Way or Make One" (Atlanta University); "Culture for Service" (Clark College)[1]
EstablishedJuly 1, 1988 (1988-07-01)
Atlanta University (1865)
Clark College (1869)
TypePrivate, HBCU[2]
Religious affiliationUnited Methodist Church
Endowment$44.2 million[3]
PresidentCarlton E. Brown
LocationAtlanta, Georgia,
United States
CampusUrban, 126 acres (0.5 km2)
ColorsRed, black, gray[4]
AthleticsNCAA Division II[4]
NicknameBlack Panther[4]

Clark Atlanta University is a private, historically black university in Atlanta, in the U.S. state of Georgia. It was formed in 1988 with the consolidation of Clark College (founded in 1869) and Atlanta University (founded in 1865). Clark Atlanta University is a member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).


CAU's history at a glance
1865Atlanta University founded
Clark College established in Atlanta's Summerhill section
1871Clark College relocated to Whitehall and McDaniel Street property.
1877Clark College chartered and renamed to Clark University
1880Clark University conferred its first degree
1929Atlanta University Center established
1988Clark Atlanta University created

Clark Atlanta University was formed by the consolidation of Atlanta University, which offered only graduate degrees, and Clark College, a four-year undergraduate institution oriented to the liberal arts.

Atlanta University[edit]

An African American student art exhibition at the university in the mid-20th century.

Atlanta University, founded in 1865 by the American Missionary Association, with later assistance from the Freedmen's Bureau, was, before consolidation, the nation's oldest graduate institution serving a predominantly African-American student body. By the late 1870s, Atlanta College had begun granting bachelor's degrees and supplying black teachers and librarians to the public schools of the South. In 1929–30, it began offering graduate education exclusively in various liberal arts areas, and in the social and natural forensis. It gradually added professional programs in social work, library science, and business administration. At this same time, Atlanta University affiliated with Morehouse College and Spelman College in a university plan known as the Atlanta University Center.

The campus was moved to its present site, and the modern organization of the Atlanta University Center emerged, with Clark College, Morris Brown College, and the Interdenominational Theological Center joining the affiliation later. The story of the Atlanta University over the next twenty years from 1930 includes many significant developments. Graduate Schools of Library Science, Education, and Business Administration were established in 1941, 1944, and 1946, respectively. The Atlanta School of Social Work, long associated with the university, gave up its charter in 1947 to become an integral part of the university. In 1957, the controlling Boards of the six institutions (Atlanta University; Clark, Morehouse, Morris Brown and Spelman Colleges; and Gammon Theological Seminary) ratified new Articles of Affiliation. The new contract created the Atlanta University Center. The influence of Atlanta University has been extended through professional journals and organizations, including Phylon. Through Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, a member of the faculty, the university was also associated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Clark College[edit]

Clark College was founded in 1869 by the Freedman's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which later became the United Methodist Church. It was named for Bishop Davis Wasgatt Clark, who was the first President of the Freedman's Aid Society and became Bishop in 1864. A sparsely furnished room in Clark Chapel, a Methodist Episcopal church in Atlanta's Summerhill section, housed the first Clark College class. In 1871, the school relocated to a new site on the newly purchased Whitehall and McDaniel Street property. In 1877, the School was chartered as Clark University.

An early benefactor, Bishop Gilbert Haven, visualized Clark as the "university" of all the Methodist schools founded for the education of freedmen. After the school had changed locations several times, Bishop Haven, who succeeded Bishop Clark, was instrumental in acquiring 450 acres (1.8 km2) in South Atlanta, where in 1880 the school conferred its first degree. (The university relocated in 1883.) Also in 1883, Clark established a theology department. Named for Dr. Elijah H. Gammon, the Gammon School of Theology in 1888 became an independent theological seminary. It is part of the Interdenominational Theological Center.

2009 faculty firings[edit]

In 2009, the university fired 55 members of the faculty (20 of whom had tenure) after declaring an "enrollment emergency."[5] The action earned the university a severe censure from the American Association of University Professors, which asserted that there was no "enrollment emergency" and decried the lack of faculty involvement in the process.[5] The AAUP investigation specifically cited that Clark Atlanta University did not provide dismissed faculty members with hearings before faculty peers, as required by both AAUP standards and university regulations, and for providing a "sorely deficient" one month of severance salary. The AAUP panel consisted of four individuals and included one professor at a historically black institution (Charles L. Betsey of Howard University) and one professor who according to Inside Higher Ed, "has written extensively and sympathetically about black colleges" (Marybeth Gasman of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education).[5]


Clark Atlanta University's main campus houses 37 buildings on 126 acres (0.5 km2) and is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the center of Atlanta.

Residential facilities[edit]


Clark Atlanta was ranked on the 2008 list of The Washington Monthly of "Best Colleges and Universities," and the list of US News & World Report of top historically black colleges and universities (No. 9 out of 34 best).[6]


Clark Atlanta has a Carnegie classification of "Research University – High Research Activity" and is one of only four Historically Black Colleges and Universities to earn such a distinction.[7] The university receives annual research grants of $ 17,570,778.[8]

Student life[edit]

National fraternities and sororities[edit]

All nine of the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations currently have chapters at Clark Atlanta University. Other organizations currently registered on campus include Sigma Alpha Iota, Gamma Sigma Sigma, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Tau Beta Sigma and Gamma Phi Delta.

Student media[edit]


CAU operates WCLK (91.9 FM), a jazz radio station.


Clark Atlanta University, known athletically as the Panthers, are competing within the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division II. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also Clark Atlanta University alumni

This is a list of notable alumni which includes graduates, non-graduate former students, and current students of Atlanta University, Clark College, Clark University, and/or Clark Atlanta University. It does not include other notable persons who may have attended Clark Atlanta University as cross-registered students (credit as an alumnus is not given to Clark Atlanta University, which has spurred controversy over the school's cross-registration policies).

James Weldon Johnson AU, Class of 1894
NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
Ralph Abernathy1951Civil rights activist[9]
Marvin S. Arrington, Sr.1963Politician and jurist[10]
Bryan Barber1996Director of the 2006 film Idlewild[11]
Hamilton Bohannonsongwriter and record producer, who was one of the leading figures in 1970s disco music
Benjamin Brown[disambiguation needed]Civil rights activist and Georgia State Representative (1966, 1969–77)[12]
Aki Collins1997Assistant coach with the Marquette Golden Eagles men's basketball team[13]
Marva Collins1957Educator; founder and director of the Westside Preparatory School in Chicago, Illinois[1]
Dewey W. Knight, Jr.1957first Black department director and the only black Deputy County Manager in Miami-Dade County[1]
Mary Frances Early1957First African-American graduate of the University of Georgia[14]
Wayman CarverComposer; first person to use extensive use of the flute in jazz
Amanda DavisNews anchor at WAGA (Fox5) in Atlanta, Georgia[15]
Pearl CleageAuthor[16]
DJ DramaMusic producer
Henry O. FlipperFirst black graduate of West Point[17]
C. Hartley Grattan1923Economist, historian[18]
Grace Towns Hamilton1927First African American woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly[19]
James A. Hefner1962Economist
Fletcher Henderson1920Pianist, band leader and composer[20]
New JackProfessional wrestler
Alexander Jefferson1942Retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and a member of the Tuskegee Airmen[21]
Robert R. JenningsPresident of Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University
Henry C. "Hank" Johnson1976U.S. Congressman, Georgia 4th District[22][23]
James Weldon Johnson1904Writer[16][24]
Otis Johnson1969Mayor of Savannah, Georgia[25]
Kenny LeonActor and former artistic director of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre[16]
Lucy Craft LaneyEducator, opened the first school for black children in Augusta, Georgia in the late 19th century
Curtis Johnson2008former NFL linebacker
Walt Landersformer NFL player
Greg McCraryformer NFL tight end
Emmanuel Lewis1997Actor[26]
Martha S. LewisGovernment official in New York City and state[27]
Evelyn G. LoweryAmerican civil rights activist and leader; marched in the historic Selma to Montgomery March
Mason "Mase" Durrell BetheaRapper
Major OwensLibrarian, U.S. Congressman (New York)
Harry Pace1903African-American recording pioneer, founder of Black Swan Records, Insurance executive[28]
Eva PigfordModel/actress; winner of America's Next Top Model Cycle 3
Nnegest LikkeMovie director and screenwriter
Jacque Reid1995Journalist
Pernessa C. SeeleImmunologist and the CEO and founder of Balm in Gilead, Inc.[29]
C. Lamont SmithSports agent, the founder and president of All Pro Sports and Entertainment
Morris Stroud1969Former professional football player
Bobby Wilson2004Singer better known by his stage name Bobby V[30]
Phuthuma NhlekoCEO of the MTN Group
Jo Ann Robinson1948Civil rights activist
Horace T. WardJudge and first black student to legally challenge segregation in higher education in the Deep South[16]
Walter Francis White1916NAACP leader[31]
Hosea WilliamsCivil rights activist[32]
Madaline A. WilliamsFirst black woman elected to the New Jersey state legislature[33]
Louis Tompkins WrightFirst black surgeon to head the Department of Surgery at Harlem Hospital in New York City[16]
Richard R. Wright1876First black Paymaster in the U.S. Army and first president of Savannah State University[34]
Dorothy Yancypresident of Johnson C. Smith University
Ella Gaines YatesFirst African-American director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System
KDSinger-songwriter, record producer, rapper

Notable faculty[edit]

Ariel Serena Hedges BowenMusic Professor
Carlton E. BrownPresident Clark Atlanta University
W.E.B. Du BoisScholar, author, and civil rights activist[35]
Virginia Lacy JonesOne of the first African-Americans to earn a PhD in the Library Sciences
J. Ernest Wilkins, Jr.Mathematician and nuclear scientist
Whitney M. Young Jr.Dean of Social Work, prior to becoming Executive Director of National Urban League
Whitman MayoDrama Professor
Henry Ossawa TannerThe first African American painter to gain international acclaim.[36]
Mary Frances EarlyThe first African American graduate of the University of Georgia[37]

Further reading and information[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Clark Atlanta University". Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  2. ^ "List of HBCUs – White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities". August 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  3. ^ "Clark Atlanta University". Best Colleges 2010. U.S. News & World Report, L.P. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Men's Basketball Facts". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  5. ^ a b c "When tenure means nothing". Inside Higher Ed. January 14, 2010. 
  6. ^ Anderson, Michelle D. (February 22, 2008). "What made Clark Atlanta University President retire?". Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  7. ^ "2010 Annual Report". Clark Atlanta University. p. 3. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  8. ^ "2010 Annual Report". Clark Atlanta University. p. 16. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  9. ^ Kirkland, W. Michael (April 27, 2004). "Ralph Abernathy (1926–1990)". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Athens, GA: Georgia Humanities Council. OCLC 54400935. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  10. ^ The HistoryMakers
  11. ^ Bryan Barber at the Internet Movie Database
  12. ^ "Black Involvement in Politics: Benjamin Brown". Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  13. ^ "Aki Collins". Marquette University Athletics. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  14. ^ "Mary Frances Early". Fox Television Stations, Inc. Retrieved May 15, 2005. 
  15. ^ "Amanda Davis". Fox Television Stations, Inc. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Clowney, Earle D. (August 24, 2004). "Clark Atlanta University". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Athens, GA: Georgia Humanities Council. OCLC 54400935. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  17. ^ "Second Lieutenant Hennry O. Flipper: First Black Graduate of West Point". U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  18. ^ "In Memoriam – C. Hartley Grattan". University of Texas. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  19. ^ Graham, Lawrence Otis (1999). Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class. Harper Perennial. p. 339. ISBN 978-0-06-098438-0. 
  20. ^ Hill, Ian (December 20, 2005). "Fletcher Henderson (1897–1952)". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Athens, GA: Georgia Humanities Council. OCLC 54400935. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  21. ^ "Alexander Jefferson Biography". Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Hank Johnson". NNDB. Soylent Communications. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  23. ^ "Congressman Hank Johnson Georgia's Fourth Congressional District". Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  24. ^ "James Weldon Johnson". NNDB. Soylent Communications. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  25. ^ "Biography – Who is Dr. Otis S. Johnson?". Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  26. ^ "Emmanuel Lewis". NNDB. Soylent Communications. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  27. ^ Lewis, Martha S., Obituary, Albany Times Union, found by searching Obituary web site. Accessed April 15, 2008.
  28. ^ "Harry Pace". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2013-02-25. 
  29. ^ "Pernessa C. Seele". Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Bobby Valentino". NNDB. Soylent Communications. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  31. ^ "Walter White". NNDB. Soylent Communications. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  32. ^ Clark Atlanta University from the New Georgia Encyclopedia Online (March 24, 2006). Retrieved on 2008-02-22.
  33. ^ "Mrs. Madaline A. Williams Dies". The New York Times. December 15, 1968. p. 86. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  34. ^ "New Georgia Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  35. ^ Derrick P. Alridge: W. E. B. Du Bois in Georgia from the New Georgia Encyclopedia Online (January 8, 2010). Retrieved on 2011-07-21.
  36. ^ "Henry Ossawa Tanner". Archived from the original on January 10, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2012. 
  37. ^ "University of Georgia To Honor First Black Graduate". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°45′3″N 84°24′37″W / 33.75083°N 84.41028°W / 33.75083; -84.41028