With 11 students, three teachers, only one subject to study and a different name, it's amazing to think that the 1866 State Normal School was the first version of Maryland's Towson University. The jump from a small teacher's training school to a university offering over 60 undergraduate majors, nearly 40 master's programs and four doctoral programs, did not, however, happen overnight.
In 1866, the size of the "campus," a small rented space in Baltimore City, was almost the same as a classroom at today's Towson University. By 1915, the school moved to a much larger area of 80 acres. Twenty years later came the first of many name changes, and the former State Normal School became known as the State Teachers College at Towson. The name only held for a few decades though, and, in 1963, the school purchased an additional 200 acres and changed its name to Towson State College. With baby boomers bombarding college campuses, Towson's enrollment jumped from 3,537 to 13,399 over the course of the decade. The year 1976 saw the name changed to Towson State University, which lasted until 1997 when the college adopted its current name, Towson University.
These days, Towson is offering much more than just a degree in teaching, although that is still one of the most popular majors. Today, Towson has a total of eight colleges within the university: the College of Business and Economics, the College of Education, the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the College of Health Professions, the College of Liberal Arts, the Jess and Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics, the Honors College and the College of Graduate Studies and Research.
More than just a local college, Towson University attracts students from outside of Maryland with its vibrant campus. Located in the heart of always-popular Towson, students are just a short distance from the shopping at Towson Town Center, plenty of restaurants and live entertainment at the Recher Theatre. Other tourist attractions at Baltimore's Inner Harbor and entertainment at Power Plant Live! are a short, easy drive away.
However, only about 3,400 students live on campus, less than a quarter of the undergraduate population. The university makes a plug for the off-campus living option by equipping its Office of Housing and Residence Life with free information about local real estate for off-campus hopefuls. Many students, though, live at home and commute to the school.
For those who opt to live on campus, tours of Towson University's residence halls will leave few doubts about the perks of dorm life. With various living arrangements -- including double suites with a shared bathroom, as well as single, double and corridor-style rooms -- students are sure to find an option that works for them.
Whether you live on or off campus, there is no way to escape the excitement of university life. For starters, Towson's Division I sports teams offer a point of pride for all Towson students, whether you're an athlete, a fan or just an avid face-painter. With 19 sports and the third-largest stadium in Baltimore, Towson can be a top destination for homegrown athletes.
For those who prefer sculpture and music to bleachers and jerseys, there are several options as well. With about 200 performances, exhibits, films and lectures each year, students can take part in all forms of art, as well as the Maryland Arts Festival each summer. From the "oohs and aahs" at exhibits to the high notes of the flute, Towson University leaves no one's artistic desires out of the picture. Other opportunities for on-campus involvement include academic and professional societies, multicultural and religious organizations, Greek life and The Towerlight, the school's student-produced newspaper. The Office of Diversity Resources helps Towson students find their niche among the wide range of groups.
Towson University may seem like your average costly school, but here's a little secret: It's not. For in-state students living on campus, the cost for tuition, room and board per semester is $7,335 (in 2006). Non-Maryland students are not as fortunate, looking at a bill around $12,000 per semester. Needless to say, the price is expected to increase, and by the fall of 2009, the projected cost for in-state students is $8,400 per semester. A significant increase, but all things considered, it's still a roar of a deal -- a Tiger's roar, that is.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun