Armstrong History

Armstrong Atlantic State University was founded in 1935 with 175 students as Armstrong Junior College to enhance higher educational opportunities in the community. The foundation of the institution, then as now, was a firm commitment to the ideals of a liberal education.

The city-supported college was housed in the historic Armstrong House, a gift to the city from the family of George F. Armstrong. Over the years, the college occupied six additional buildings downtown near Forsyth Park and Monterey Square. In 1959, as Armstrong College of Savannah, it became a two-year unit of the University System of Georgia. In 1964, the Board of Regents conferred four-year status on Armstrong State College.

In January 1966, the college moved to its present site, a gift from Donald Livingston and the Mills B. Lane Foundation. Eight buildings were constructed on the campus' original 250 acres. Additional buildings joined the original structures as Armstrong added professional and graduate programs. In 1993, work began on transforming the grounds into an arboretum.

In 1996, the institution gained state university status and a new name: Armstrong Atlantic State University. Armstrong today serves more than 7,000 students of all ages. Eighty-six percent come from across Georgia, 12 percent come from other states, and 2 percent come from 84 other nations.

Armstrong in the Community

Since its inception as a city-owned junior college, Armstrong has been a strong partner with its neighbors. Armstrong graduates have taught generations of school children, cared for thousands of patients and helped to keep the community safe. In addition, the university has created a wide variety of courses and degrees to meet the ever-changing needs of business and industry.

From the moment the lights went up on the first Masquers' theatrical production, the college has enriched the life of the community through hundreds of cultural offerings from plays and concerts to art gallery exhibits and lectures. The Pirates' athletic teams bring excitement and an impressive string of national championships.

A culture of leadership and community service sends Armstrong students into surrounding localities as volunteers in a variety of civic activities from fundraising to delivering vital assistance to those who need it most.

Armstrong Through the Years

1935 The Aldermen of the City of Savannah create Armstrong Junior College. The college is housed downtown in a mansion donated to the city by Lucy Camp Armstrong Moltz and Lucy Armstrong Johnson.
1935 Ernest A. Lowe is appointed the first president, and classes begin in September with 175 students.
1937 Stacy Keach, a senior, formed the college's Savannah Playhouse, the forerunner to the Masquers.

1940 Armstrong was first accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in a report that identified the school as the best junior college accredited that year.
1941 J. Thomas Askew is appointed the second president.
1944 Foreman M. Hawes is appointed the third president.

1959 Armstrong College of Savannah becomes a two-year unit of the University System of Georgia.

1962 The Mills B. Lane Foundation and Donald Livingston donate a new campus site of 250 acres on the south side of Savannah.
1964 The Board of Regents confers four-year college status upon Armstrong. B.A., B.S., and B.B.A. degrees are offered.
1964 Henry L. Ashmore is appointed the fourth president.
1965 The new eight-building campus is completed.
1968 The first baccalaureate degrees are awarded.
1968 Armstrong State College receives notice of accreditation as a senior institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

1971 The Board of Regents authorizes Armstrong and Savannah State to offer joint graduate programs leading to the M.B.A. and the M.S. in education.
1978 The Board of Regents designates Armstrong State College as a Regional Health Professions Education Center.

1984 Robert A. Burnett is appointed the fifth president.
1985 Armstrong celebrates its fiftieth anniversary on May 27.
1986 The Regional Criminal Justice Training Center is established on the Armstrong campus.
1986 The Board of Regents approves the offering of selected baccalaureate degrees by Armstrong State College at the Brunswick Center.

1995 The sixtieth anniversary is celebrated with a historic marker at Armstrong House, presidential artwork, inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame, and dedication of the new Armstrong Sports Center.
1996 The institution gains university status and a new name: Armstrong Atlantic State University.
1997 The dedication of University Hall, an 89,000 square-foot classroom and office building and home of the Regional Criminal Justice Training Center, is held.
1998 The Shirley and Philip Solomons Eminent Scholar Chair in Economics is established.
1998 Armstrong collaborates with other university system institutions to create the Liberty Center, which offers degree programs in Liberty County.
1998 The College of Education is named Best in the State by the Georgia Association of Teacher Educators.
1999 The Georgia Tech Regional Engineering Program is established on the Armstrong campus.

2000 Thomas Z. Jones is named the sixth president.
2002 The student population exceeds 6,000.
2002 The dedication of the 126,056 square-foot Science Center is held.
2002 The university's first student residential community is dedicated.
2002 The Board of Regents approves funding for a new $23 million academic classroom building.
2003 Victor, Hawes and Solms halls are completely renovated and rededicated.
2003 The Hispanic Outreach and Leadership at Armstrong Atlantic program (HOLA) is established under a generous grant from the Goizueta Foundation.
2004 The student population exceeds 7,000.
2004 Armstrong Educational Properties, Inc. purchases 18 acres of land adjacent to the campus for development as academic support space, a Professional and Continuing Education Center, and student residences.
2005 The fourth student residential community is complete.
2006 The Peach Belt Conference gives Armstrong its inaugural Presidents' Academic Award for 2006-2007.
2006 The Armstrong Center, a conference facility for small to medium groups, is dedicated.
2006 The Student Recreation Center is opened.

2009 Both the men's and women's tennis teams win the 2009 NCAA Division II national championships for the second consecutive year.
2009 Construction begins on a new Student Union building and Windward Commons housing community.
2009 Armstrong graduates its first Doctor of Physical Therapy, awarded in conjunction with the Medical College of Georgia.
2009 Linda M. Bleicken is named the seventh president.
2009 Armstrong gains approval to offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.