Bowie State University is an outgrowth of a school opened in Baltimore, Maryland, by an organization dedicated to offering educational opportunities that the state failed to provide for its black citizens.
From those humble beginnings, Bowie State has become a comprehensive university, offering 23 undergraduate majors, 19 master’s degree programs, 14 specialty certificates and two doctoral programs in a broad range of disciplines. Bowie State University continues to build on its legacy of providing access to a high-quality education.
Founding of the First School
The Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Improvement of the Colored People was organized in 1864 by 46 men, comprised of businessmen, lawyers, clergymen and Quakers, committed to opening schools to educate the state’s newly emancipated citizens. One of those men was Joseph M. Cushing, an outspoken champion for the education of the black population.
As chairman of the Educational Committee for Maryland’s Constitutional Convention in 1864, Cushing chastised the committee’s refusal to fund schools for black people: “There will come a time when this state will be forced by public opinion to provide means for educating our colored population.” The association opened its first Baltimore school, School #1, on January 9, 1865, in the African Baptist Church in Crane’s Building on the corner of Calvert and Saratoga streets. The school offered courses in the elements of education. Courses to train teachers were added in 1866.
The facility was woefully inadequate. In 1867, with the aid of the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Quakers of England and others, the Baltimore Association purchased and renovated the Old Friends Meeting House at the corner of Saratoga and Courtland streets to house the Baltimore Normal School for Colored Teachers.
Move to Bowie
After repeated petitions from the Baltimore Normal School trustees, the state legislature authorized the Board of Education to assume control of the school in 1908 and re-designated it as Normal School No. 3, finally fulfilling the dream of Cushing and the Baltimore Association. By 1910, the state decided to relocate the school to Bowie, Maryland, purchasing a 187-acre tract formerly known as Jericho Farm dating to 1716. The school opened at the new location in 1911 with about 60 students and Don Speed Smith Goodloe as the first black man to head the school as principal. In 1914, its name changed to the Maryland Normal and Industrial School at Bowie.
Under President Leonidas James, the school began a two-year professional curriculum in teacher education in 1925, which expanded to a three-year program in 1931. A four-year program to train elementary school teachers was introduced in 1935, and the school was renamed the Maryland Teachers College at Bowie in 1938.
Teacher education continued to expand under the 25-year tenure of President William Henry. The institution established programs to train teachers for junior high school (1951) and secondary education (1961) and advanced toward becoming a liberal arts college.
Transition to a State Liberal Arts College
The Maryland State Legislature authorized the college to become Bowie State College in 1963, following the establishment of a liberal arts program. New majors in English, history and general social science were added, expanding offerings beyond teacher education.
Under President Samuel Myers, the college established its first graduate degree program, offering the Master of Education in 1969. The first director of the graduate division was Dr. J. Alexander Wiseman, a graduate of the Maryland Teachers College at Bowie and the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Emergence as a Comprehensive University
In 1988, Bowie State College became Bowie State University under President James Lyons, reflecting significant growth in academic programs, enrollment and community service. On the same day, the university also became one of the member institutions of the newly formed University System of Maryland.
Bowie State University gained recognition as a leader in the education of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In 1995, Bowie State won an 11-year, $27 million award from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration/National Science Foundation, becoming one of only six national Model Institutions for Excellence in STEM.
Today’s Bowie State University
Bowie State University ranks among the nation’s top comprehensive universities, cultivating next-generation leaders by providing opportunities for students to discover their strengths through focused academic experiences and opportunities to tackle real-world problems.
Now more than ever, Bowie State University is committed to preparing students for success in a highly technological, global society.
Bowie State University empowers a diverse population of students from Maryland, the nation, and the world to reach their full potential through its high-quality, liberal arts-based bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. The University provides a nurturing environment distinguished by a culture of success that supports students in completing their course of study.
As Maryland’s first historically black university, Bowie State inspires and prepares ethical and socially responsible leaders who can think critically, discover knowledge, commit to lifelong learning, value diversity, and function effectively in a highly technical and dynamic global community.
Bowie State University’s quintessential priority is academic excellence.This refers to the educational achievements of our students, including their intellectual growth, and the scholarly and pedagogical achievements of our faculty members. Bowie State University will be widely recognized as one of the nation’s best public comprehensive universities. Bowie State’s ability to increase its national stature will depend in part on its ability to enhance its graduation rate, the reputation of its faculty, and the excellence of its undergraduate and graduate programs.
To achieve this vision, Bowie State is committed to:
- Enrolling, educating, and graduating the most promising diverse student body possible.
- Fostering a success-driven undergraduate and graduate culture, culminating with a degree that positions graduates to be part of an educated citizenry that positively contributes to the community.
- Cultivating an institutional culture of high expectations and climate of success that advances student learning and emphasizes efficient time to degree.
- Providing all students with an education that is innovative, distinctive, and of the highest quality that inspires life-long learning.
- Implementing and sustaining a strategic approach to building BSU’s reputation and brand recognition as a nationally preeminent university.
- Continuing to explore additional institutional revenue streams and operating in an efficient and effective manner.
- Supporting faculty in scholarly and creative endeavors.
EXCELLENCE – Bowie State University expects students, faculty, staff and administrators to demonstrate outstanding levels of performance by fostering a stimulating learning and work environment.
CIVILITY – Bowie State University cultivates an environment in which the interaction between individuals is one that is inherently imbued with value, respect, and appreciation.
INTEGRITY – Bowie State University students, faculty, staff and administrators demonstrate high ethical standards in their interactions with one another and the larger community
ACCOUNTABILITY – Bowie State University expects each member of the University community to be responsible and accountable for the outcomes of their efforts and actions.
INNOVATION – Bowie State University expects each member of the University community to be responsible and accountable for the outcomes of their efforts and actions.
Strategic Goal 1: Achieve academic excellence supported by curricular and co-curricular experiences.
Strategic Goal 2: Promote a holistic and coordinated approach to student success.
Strategic Goal 3: Encourage academic and administrative innovation to meet student needs.
Strategic Goal 4: Enhance our campus culture of diversity, inclusion and civic engagement.
Strategic Goal 5: Ensure long-term viability of BSU.
Bowie State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
The College of Business is accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), www.acbsp.org.
The College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), www.ncate.org. The Maryland State Department of Education approves the Secondary Education (MED) and Secondary Education (BA/BS) programs
The Counseling Programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
The Department of Nursing is accredited by Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN), www.acenursing.org.
American Association for Higher Education
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education
American Association of State Colleges and Universities
American Association of University Women
American Council on Education
Association of American Colleges and Universities
Association of Teacher Education and Institutions
College Entrance Examination Board
Council for the Advancement of Secondary Education
Maryland Association of Higher Education
National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
National League for Nursing