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General Description

From the opening of its doors in 1912 as a normal school for training teachers to its present status as one of Tennessee's two comprehensive universities, the University of Memphis has been thrust forward by the growth of Memphis and the Mid-South. A town oriented to a rural economy and culture in 1900 grew into a large urban and commercial center mid-century, and the city's public institution of higher learning experienced comparable growth.

The metropolitan and regional requirements for more highly trained university graduates have, of necessity, caused the University to expand all its offerings in arts and sciences, business, the fine arts, education, engineering and technology, law, and several special professional fields. Degrees range from the baccalaureate through the doctorate. Approximately 80 percent of the full-time faculty have earned the highest possible degree in their fields. The University strives to optimize its resources in its quest for excellence through teaching, research and service.

With an enrollment of over 20,000, the University of Memphis is committed to developing programs of the highest caliber, for only through such a commitment will it be a standard of quality in higher education for the citizens of our service area. As the comprehensive university of the State University and Community College System of Tennessee, the University of Memphis is striving to increase the ratio of doctoral programs it offers, which will also require an increased emphasis on research and scholarship activity. The University is committed to serving a diverse student body of all races, sexes and nationalities. Our students are expected, upon graduation, to be able to compete effectively with their counterparts from any other respected university in the nation.


The roots of the University of Memphis date back to September 12,1912, with the establishment and beginning of classes at West Tennessee State Normal School, which provided for the training of primary and secondary education teachers. However, the seeds for the normal school's creation were sown three years earlier, in 1909, when the Tennessee General Assembly passed a General Education law calling for establishment and maintenance of three normal schools, one school located in each of the three grand divisions of the state.

The eastern edge of Memphis became the site for West Tennessee State Normal School, which in 1929 became West Tennessee State Teachers College. In 1941, the college expanded its liberal arts curriculum, and the name was changed to Memphis State College--an institution serving three to four thousand students. The undergraduate program was reorganized into three schools and a graduate school was added in 1951.

Memphis State achieved university status in 1957, and on July 1, 1994, the name was officially changed to the University of Memphis.

Governing Body

The governance and control of the University of Memphis is vested in the Tennessee Board of Regents. The composition and powers of the Board are set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated 49-8-201 through 49-8-203. The Board consists of 18 members; 12 lay citizens appointed for six-year terms by the Governor from each congressional district and grand division of the State; one faculty member appointed for a one-year term; one student appointed for a one-year term by the Governor from among the System institution; and four ex officio members--the Governor, Commissioner of Education, Commissioner of Agriculture, and the Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.


The schools and colleges that make up the University are the Graduate School, the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, the University College, the Loewenberg School of Nursing, the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, School of Public Health, and five colleges offering graduate and undergraduate programs: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Fogelman College of Business and Economics, the College of Communication and Fine Arts, the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, and the Herff College of Engineering. The institution also offers a University Honors Program for highly motivated students seeking exceptional and challenging programs of study in a variety of disciplines. The colleges, departments, and the undergraduate degree programs they offer are described in more detail in the Colleges and Degree Programs section of this Catalog.