Clarksville, TN – In a few months, Austin Peay State University will officially turn 90, and anyone who happened to be on campus when the school first opened in the late 1920s would likely not recognize it today.
Students enjoy a beautiful spring day at Austin Peay State University. (Taylor Slifko, APSU)
Only about 158 students enrolled at the Austin Peay Normal School during its first fall semester, and the old Castle and Stewart buildings disappeared more than half a century ago.
Throughout the last nine decades, the University has undergone extensive changes, and in another 90 years, when historians look back on the school’s progress, they might argue that 2016 was one of the more transformative years in Austin Peay history.
Here are some of the major stories to come out of Austin Peay this last year:
In January, the University purchased 11 acres along College Street from the Jenkins and Wynne auto dealership. The $8.8 million purchase marked one of the largest expansions in the University’s history, finally connecting campus with downtown Clarksville.
On February 16th, the U.S. Army Cadet Command presented Austin Peay’s ROTC program with its seventh MacArthur Award. Each year, the award recognizes eight schools, selected from among the 275 senior Army ROTC units nationwide, as the top programs in the country.
During its 85thyear in print, The All State, APSU’s student-produced newspaper, was named the best college newspaper during the Southeast Journalism Conference. The newspaper also placed second for best public service journalism and third for best college website.
In early March, the APSU men’s basketball team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament after becoming the first no. 8 seed to ever be crowned Ohio Valley Conference Champions. The Governors lost to no. 1 seed Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
In April, APSU’s historic Governors Stadium was renamed Fortera Stadium, thanks to a new 25-year, $2.5 million agreement between the University and the Fortera Credit Union.
For the fifth consecutive year, APSU was one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. In addition, APSU was the only university in Tennessee to make the national publication’s “Great Colleges to Work For 2016” list.
Earlier this fall, the University welcomed the largest freshman class in its 89-year history when 1,963 first-year students enrolled at APSU. The University saw a 26.3 percent increase in freshman students over last year.
Jacob Robertson, an APSU physics student, discovered a quasar while conducting research at Fermilab—the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory. Robertson was assisting Dr. Allyn Smith, APSU professor of astronomy, with the international Dark Energy Survey project.
On October 11th, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed eight individuals to the newly created institutional governing board at Austin Peay. In addition to Dr. Nell Rayburn, the trustee selected by APSU’s faculty, the appointees include Billy Atkins, Katherine Cannata, Larry Carroll, Don Jenkins, Gary Luck, Valencia May, Robin Mealer and Mike O’Malley. Once the Tennessee General Assembly confirms them, the trustees will appoint a nonvoting student member to the board.
APSU graduate Brittany Orton was recently accepted into the graduate program at the University of Cambridge. She will pursue her master’s degree in Anglo-Saxon history at one of the world’s most prestigious universities under the guidance of Dr. Simon Keynes, Cambridge professor and great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin.