By Linda M. Bleicken
President, Armstrong State University
Special to The Inkwell
As the fall semester gets underway, I’m delighted to join with you as we celebrate a year of Armstrong anniversaries.
This academic year marks 80 years since our founding, 50 years since our move to Savannah’s southside, and five years since the launch of our signature Treasure Savannah day of service. We’re planning a number of celebrations throughout the fall and spring to honor this special year of anniversaries, including our high-energy Celebrate Armstrong from October 22-24.
Armstrong’s history is inspiring. We were founded by the City of Savannah in 1935 as a response a need for expanded higher education opportunities in our community. While much has grown and changed over the years, Armstrong remains dedicated to student success and to being a strong community partner. Armstrong began as Armstrong Junior College, welcoming 175 students from across the area. The college was originally housed in the historic Armstrong House downtown at the corner of Bull and Gaston Street, a gift from the family of George F. Armstrong. Over the years, Armstrong grew to occupy six additional buildings near Forsyth Park and Monterey Square.
In January 1966, Armstrong moved to its present site on Savannah’s southside, a gift from Donald Livingston and the Mills B. Lane Foundation. Eight buildings were constructed on the original 250-acre campus. On June 1, 1968, the first baccalaureate degrees were awarded to 116 students at the first-ever southside commencement ceremony in Armstrong’s gymnasium. Thirty years later, Armstrong expanded its reach to Hinesville, Ga., with the opening of the Armstrong Liberty Center, which serves Ft. Stewart and all of Liberty County.
Today, Armstrong welcomes more than 7,000 students from 44 states, the District of Columbia, and 71 countries to our beautiful residential campus in Savannah and our fast-growing location in Hinesville. Our remarkable diversity includes a vibrant population of traditional and non-traditional students, as well as active duty military, veterans, and their families.
Armstrong now offers more than 100 academic degrees and programs, from associate to doctoral degrees. Our commitment to supporting student success is stronger than ever as we nurture a new generation of leaders in fields ranging from business economics to cyber security.
Armstrong is acclaimed for its academic excellence. Exceptional faculty, dedicated to giving our students hands-on experience, provide our undergraduates with rigorous research opportunities that many institutions reserve for graduate level students.
We’re also known for our impressive legacy in NCAA Division II athletics. Over the years, Armstrong has won 12 national championships and brought home 91 Peach Belt Conference titles.
However, service to the community we’re proud to call home is just as important as our academic and athletic success. One of the many ways we give back is through our bi-annual Treasure Savannah event. During the past five years, Armstrong students, faculty, staff and alumni have contributed more than 8,000 community service hours to non-profit organizations in Savannah and Hinesville.
In addition to our anniversary celebrations, we have a number of exciting developments on the horizon for this academic year. This fall, we’re launching our new French major and will begin offering in-state tuition for residents of Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama. In January, our Armstrong Liberty Center will open a new, state-of-the-art 21,000-square-foot facility in downtown Hinesville.
The Georgia Legislature recently approved $1.8 million in design funding for Armstrong’s new College of Health Professions facility, which will allow us to continue to graduate more undergraduate health professionals than any University System of Georgia institution.
By any measure, Armstrong’s future is bright. I’m grateful for our students, faculty, and staff, who make the university such a vibrant community. I wish you a wonderful fall semester and look forward to celebrating our year of anniversaries together.