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History of Georgia Southwestern

Georgia Southwestern State University, a four-year college of the University System of Georgia, was founded in 1906 as the Third District Agricultural and Mechanical School. In 1926, the General Assembly granted a charter authorizing the school to offer two years of college work and to change its name to the Third District Agricultural and Normal College. The new charter resulted in the expansion of the curriculum to include courses in teacher training, and the State Department of Education gave teacher certification to students who completed the program.

In 1932, by legislative enactment, this college and other state-supported institutions of higher learning in Georgia were organized into the University System of Georgia and placed under the jurisdiction of the Board of Regents. As a unit of the University System, the College continued its two-year curriculum and changed its name to Georgia Southwestern College.

In 1964, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia authorized Georgia Southwestern College to begin its transition to a four-year degree-granting institution. This action resulted in the development of baccalaureate programs, and the first bachelor's degrees were conferred in June 1968. The name of the institution was changed to Georgia Southwestern State University in July of 1996. A program of graduate studies leading to the Master of Education degree was approved by the Board of Regents and initiated in June 1973. This program has undergone continuous growth and development, and the Specialist in Education degree was begun in the summer of 1982. The Master of Science in Administration was added in the winter of 1983. The Master of Science in Computer Science was added in the spring of 1986, and the Master of Business Administration was added to the curriculum in 2003. Most recently, the Master Science in Nursing (online) was added in the fall of 2012.

Among distinguished GSW alumni are former President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jimmy Carter, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, the late Griffin Bell, former U.S. Attorney General, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Jaha Dukureh.

Administration Building

In 1915, Georgia Southwestern's original Administration building was engulfed in flames and declared a total loss. Academic Hall (pictured here before the fire) was built in 1907 and housed eight classrooms, a large auditorium, the superintendent's office and the College Cadet armory. Witnesses told the Americus Times-Recorder at the time that the explosion of the ammunition stored in the armory sounded like an infantry charge. The cause of the fire was never determined.

The building was rebuilt under the supervision of architect and trustee Charles Wheatley, for whom the new building was named upon its completion in 1918.

Our Colors

Blue and gold have been GSW's official colors longer than our sports teams have been the Hurricanes. The tradition dates back to the Americus Normal College days in the early 1900s, when the College's sports teams were called "The Blue and Gold." The very first yearbook, the 1926 Le Resume, highlighted the undefeated women's basketball team, pictured here: "Again the Blue & Gold showed their victorious colors by defeating the Fort Valley Peaches 20 to 6 in the final game of an undefeated season."

Blue and gold were officially readopted in 1935 to ensure continued use throughout the years. When the sports teams became the Hurricanes in the Fall Quarter of 1948, the colors remained the same and have been one of the few constants on campus throughout the decades, having outlasted numerous mascots, former team names, and a handful of athletic facilities.

Rosalynn Carter

Former First Lady and GSW alumna Rosalynn Carter began her leadership journey on Georgia Southwestern’s campus over 75 years ago, where she served as Vice President of her class and campus Marshal. She is pictured here on the far left with her fellow class representatives in 1946. Mrs. Carter was also a founding member of the Young Democrats Club and participated in the GSW Tumbling Club and the C.G. Club, which supported day students who lived off campus.

As First Lady, Mrs. Carter became an advocate for mental illness and caregiving. This work continued long after the Carters left the White House and led to the creation of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving in 1987 on GSW's campus. The RCI was previously a unit of GSW and continues to be an invaluable partner to the University.

Distinguished Alumni