A global outlook, practical idealism, a passion for public service: They're part of American University today, and they were in the air in 1893, when AU was chartered by Congress. George Washington had dreamed of a "national university" in the nation's capital. But it took John Fletcher Hurst to found a university that, in many ways, embodies that dream.
President Woodrow Wilson officially dedicated the university on May 27, 1914 and the first graduate students were admitted. The College of Liberal Arts was established in 1925, with the first 75 undergraduate students admitted that fall.
Photos: Bishop Hurst at groundbreaking; Hurst Hall in 1902, which now houses the Department of Biology and the Premedical Program
Throughout the history of American University, the College of Arts and Sciences has changed its name several times. At first known as the "College of Liberal Arts," the name was changed to the "College of Arts and Sciences" in 1939. For a brief period it was known simply as the "Undergraduate College" until the name was converted back to the "College of Arts and Sciences" in 1956.
The largest school or college at American University, the College of Arts and Sciences currently has 2,931 students, 339 full-time faculty, and more than 150 degrees offered. While the College is continually growing, the commitment to promoting free and rational discourse, fostering an understanding of the diversity of human experience, providing the critical intellectual skills necessary to navigate a rapidly changing world, and integrating knowledge across disciplinary boundaries never changes.
Photo: Students in the mid-1950s in front of Battelle Memorial Building, the current College home
Photos: Battelle Memorial Building in the 1960s; Theodore Roosevelt at McKinley cornerstone laying in 1902
Methodist bishop John Fletcher Hurst buys some 90 acres of farmland on which to build a nonsectarian national university.
1891 The university incorporates as The American University under laws of the District of Columbia. Bishop Hurst is elected chancellor.
AU is chartered by Act of Congress.
1896 Bishop Hurst breaks ground for College of History (Hurst Hall).
1902 McKinley Building cornerstone is laid by President Theodore Roosevelt.
1914 First class is admitted (28 students, including 4 women).
First class graduates.
1925 College of Liberal Arts is established; 75 students enroll.
First undergraduate class of the College of Liberal Arts graduates.
Asbury Building is completed, the current home for the Department of Psychology.
1962 Watkins Art Building opens.
1966 Kreeger Music Building opens.
1967 Beeghly Chemistry Building opens.
1975 School of Education is established.
1984 Department of Communication becomes School of Communication under the College of Arts and Sciences.
1993 School of Communication becomes independent.
2002 Battelle Building is renovated and becomes the new home of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre opens.
The Katzen Arts Center, housing the visual and performing arts departments, opens.
2006 The American University Museum, housed in the Katzen Arts Center, hosts 18,000 visitors its first year.
New, state-of-the-art studios were opened in the Kreeger Building for the Audio Technology Program.
The building housing the Department of Language and Foreign Studies was dedicated as Jack Child Hall to recognize Professor Jack Child's commitment to the department.
The Department of Language and Foreign Studies is now the Department of World Languages and Cultures.
(Photos: Katzen Arts Center; Battelle-Tomkins Memorial Building)
Deans of the College
1925-1944 George B. Dennis, Dean (College Of Liberal Arts)
1944-1945 Earl A. Dennis, Dean
1945-1946 Thomas Marshall, Dean
1946-1947 John W. Manning, (Elected, Did Not Serve)
1946-1953 John E. Bentley, Dean
1953-1959 Harold E. Davis, Dean (Undergraduate College)
1959-1964 Ralph C. John, Dean (1964, College of Arts & Sciences)
1964-1965 David G. Mobberly, Dean (College of Arts & Sciences)