Description of the University
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
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 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.
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.