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History and Heritage

Thank you for visiting the Selma University history page. We hope you will take a few minutes to read more about the long and storied history of our school.

The History of Selma University

Selma University was founded in 1878, with such noted men as the Reverends W. H. McAlpine, James A. Foster, and R. Murrell leading the effort. The purpose of establishing our school was for the preparation of better leaders for the church and schoolroom.

At a meeting in Mobile in 1874, the first trustees were elected. They were C. O. Booth, Alexander Butler, W. H. McAlpine, Holland Thompson, and H. J. Europe. The school opened four years later in 1878, in the Saint Phillips Street Baptist Church of Selma. The Saint Phillip Street Baptist Church later became the First Baptist Church. The Convention voted to locate the school in Selma in 1877.

In 1881, the school was incorporated by an act of the legislature under the name of Alabama Baptist Normal and Theological School of Selma. On May 14, 1908, the name was officially changed to Selma University.

The Women's Baptist Convention was organized in 1886 and built a girls' dormitory in 1889. This dormitory was named Stone Hall in honor of Miss Susie Stone.

The Dinkins Memorial Chapel was completed in 1904. It was named in honor of Reverend C. S. Dinkins, one of the presidents of the school. This building was rebuilt in 1921 after having been destroyed by fire. It was renovated in 1980.

Foster Hall was built in 1910 and named for Miss Susie C. Foster, president of the Women's Convention at the time of its construction.

Cleveland Hall was built in 1948 and was named in honor of M. C. Cleveland, Sr. The building contained materials that were taken from the Vickers Home and the Old Arcade Hotel in Selma.

Gibbs Dining Hall was constructed in 1953 and name after Mrs. Henrietta M. Gibbs.

The Stone-Robinson Library was erected in 1960 and named for Miss Susie Stone, Secretary of the Women's Convention and Reverend U. J. Robinson, President of the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention.

The Jemison-Owens Auditorium/Gymnasium was completed in 1966. This building was named in honor of Reverend D. V. Jemison, who was President of the Convention, and Dr. James H. Owens, President of the school at the time of its construction.

The Hood-Ware dormitory for men and the Jackson-Wilson dormitory for women were completed in 1970. The A.W. Wilson Science and Computer Hall was completed in 1979.

In 1988, the science complex was expanded with the addition of an annex that houses an auditorium, several instructional laboratories, and two computer facilities, with offices for faculty. The computer-equipped writing laboratory in Dinkins Hall, the mathematics laboratory in the Science addition, (completed in 1989) and the expanded library facility, which houses a center for audiovisual instruction and computer-aided self-study (completed in 1990) are the most recent improvements on campus.

In the late eighties, Selma University developed from a four-year bachelor program in religion and a two-year liberal arts program to a four-year institution. In the fall of 2000, Selma University began its transformation from a Christian liberal arts college to a Bible college. In February 2001, it received applicant status and in February 2005, candidate status, and in February 2009 initial accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education in the United States and Canada.