The name has changed over the years, but the mission at Morgan State University has remained fundamentally the same: To provide an affordable, quality education with a special emphasis on serving the needs of African-American students.
The Methodist Episcopal Church established the school in 1867. Then known as the Centenary Biblical Institute, its purpose was to prepare future ministers. The school awarded its first bachelor's degree in 1895, having renamed itself Morgan College five years earlier in honor of the Reverend Lyttleton Morgan, the first chairman of its board of trustees.
In 1939, the state purchased the school as part of an effort to create more educational opportunities for the area's African-American students. Today, the student body remains overwhelmingly African-American, although the school has been open to students of all races ever since it became a public institution.
Set in a residential section of northeastern Baltimore, Morgan's 143-acre campus offers a neighborhood feel within easy reach of the city's cultural and entertainment attractions. On campus, students congregate at McKeldin Center, where they can chat, study, sip coffee or attend organized educational and social events.
Other campus highlights include a monument to Frederick Douglass and the James E. Lewis Museum of Art, which holds an impressive collection of African and African-American art. The oldest building on campus, Carnegie Hall, was built in 1919 and named in recognition of a substantial grant from the late Andrew Carnegie. That $50,000 grant also enabled the college to purchase its present site.
The primary emphasis at Morgan is on learning and preparing for a successful career. The school offers a comprehensive undergraduate curriculum, as well as a wide range of specialized degrees at the master's and doctoral levels. Students may obtain advanced degrees in African-American studies, architecture, chemistry, mathematics, business administration and engineering -- to name a few.
In addition to its well-rounded liberal arts offerings, Morgan also offers numerous programs in professional fields, including engineering, business, architecture and social work.
Those who can't attend weekday classes may choose to participate in "Weekend University" -- a bachelor's degree program designed to meet the scheduling needs of working adults by offering night and weekend classes. In addition, a Cooperative Education Program allows students to gain hands-on experience in the business world while they continue to study toward their chosen degrees.
Students may also participate in a range of extracurricular activities, including the renowned Morgan State University Choir, one of the nation's most prestigious university choral ensembles. With a repertoire that draws upon classical, gospel and pop works, the choir tours internationally and makes frequent radio and TV appearances.
The school's arts program got a major boost in 2001 with the opening of the Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center, a $40 million facility with four performance spacesand a museum. The 140,000-square-foot center houses the university's music, theater and art departments, and also hostsperformers from throughout the local arts community. Art critics and Morgan arts majors alike have expressed excitement over the center's assorted spaces, which include a concert hall and a 270-seat theater.
Throughout its rich history, Morgan State has successfully met the academic needs of a diverse community, and that tradition remains strong. With high-caliber educational offerings and a range of urban services, the school continues to play an important role in shaping theregion's cultural and intellectual life.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun