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Bowie State University

Special to SunSpot

Bowie State University's roots date to the post-Civil War era when it was established to educate African-American teachers. The oldest historically black college in Maryland and the third oldest in the nation held its first classes at the African Baptist Church at the corner of Calvert and Saratoga streets in downtown Baltimore in 1865.

The school relocated to Prince George's County and in 1914 became known as the Maryland Normal and Industrial School at Bowie. Its two-year teacher education program gradually expanded to include three- and four-year programs, and in 1935 the school was renamed the Maryland State Teachers College at Bowie.

Although the school has always admitted students of all races and ethnicities, Bowie's African-American heritage still predominates. Approximately 82 percent of its students are African-American. In addition, many of the campus' 25 buildings are named for famous African-Americans, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Alex Haley, Harriet Tubman and Thurgood Marshall.

The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in education, as well as in 15 other fields such as computer science, business and economics, social work, psychology and communications. Although it now does more than just educate teachers, Bowie still maintains its commitment to children and education. It is the first university in the nation to offer a bachelor's degree in pedology, the scientific study of the life, development and socialization of children and adolescents. This degree prepares students for jobs in places such as juvenile correctional institutions, children's hospitals, day care centers, schools, social welfare agencies and adoption agencies. The school also offers a rare doctoral degree program in education leadership.

Bowie is one of six Model Institutions for Excellence designated by the National Science Foundation and NASA. The program is designed to increase the number of minority scientists, mathematicians and engineers, and encourage them to pursue graduate-level study. Special coursework that promotes these goals is woven through the science, mathematics and engineering curricula.

Science students can test their outer limits through the Bowie State University Operations Control Center, an on-campus facility where they can control a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite. Students communicate with scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt to operate the satellite.

When they are not in class, students can get involved in more than 40 organizations, including the academic (such as the criminal justice, education and English clubs), the artistic (such as concert band, art guild, jazz ensemble, The Spectrum student newspaper and WBSU Radio) and the humanistic (such as Good Brothers and Good Sisters, which promotes leadership and encourages students to strive for self-advancement).

With about 23 percent of Bowie's 5,385 students living on campus, the school's seven residence halls are the focal point of its social scene. If students should want for something to do, there are numerous cultural performances, sporting events and lectures each semester. The campus's location -- 25 miles from Baltimore and 17 miles from Washington, D.C. -- provides students with additional cultural, social and entertainment opportunities.

The Bowie Bulldogs compete in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). Teams include men's and women's basketball, women's bowling, cross country/track, football, softball and women's tennis. For the 2001-2002 season, both the men's basketball and the football head coaches were named CIAA Coach of the Year.

Some of Bowie's notable alumni include Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who died in the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster; Maryland State Assembly delegates Joanne Benson and James Proctor, Jr.; and Maryland Circuit Court Judge William Missouri. Rhythm-and-blues singer Toni Braxton attended, but did not graduate.

For the student seeking an affordable, high-quality education, Bowie is aperfect choice. Its campus is packed with state-of-the-art facilities, such as the $6.5 million Communication Arts Center and the Center for Learning and Technology, which contains electronic classrooms, interactive lecture halls, computer labs and an auditorium. The school also retains its original traditions of inclusiveness, accessibility and innovation, which are vital to a meaningful education.

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