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Kentucky State University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kentucky State University
Latin: Statum Universitas Kentuckiensis
Former name
State Normal School for Colored Persons (1886–1902)
Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons (1902–1926)
Kentucky State Industrial College for Colored Persons (1926–1938)
Kentucky State College for Negroes (1938–1952)
Kentucky State College (1952–1972)
Motto"Onward, Upward."
TypePublic historically black land-grant university
Established1886; 138 years ago (1886)[1]
Academic affiliations
PresidentKoffi C. Akakpo
ProvostMichael D. Dailey (Interim)
Students1,726 (Fall 2022)[2]
Location, ,
United States

38°12′00″N 84°51′30″W / 38.20000°N 84.85833°W / 38.20000; -84.85833
Campus915 acres (3.70 km2)
ColorsKelly Green and light Gold
NicknameThorobreds & Thorobrettes
Sporting affiliations

Kentucky State University (KSU, and KYSU) is a public historically black land-grant university in Frankfort, Kentucky. Founded in 1886 as the State Normal School for Colored Persons, and becoming a land-grant college in 1890, KSU is the second-oldest state-supported institution of higher learning in Kentucky.[1] In fall 2019, total undergraduate enrollment was 2,029 with a total graduate enrollment of 142.[3]

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Kentucky State University was chartered in May 1886 as the State Normal School for Colored Persons, only the second state-supported institution of higher learning in Kentucky.[1] During the euphoria of Frankfort's 1886 centennial celebration, the city donated $1,500 towards the purchase of land for a new college on a bluff overlooking Frankfort.[4]

The new school formally opened on October 11, 1887, with three teachers, 55 students, and John H. Jackson as president.[1] Recitation Hall (now Jackson Hall), the college's first permanent building, was erected in that year.

Campus in 1898
Main entrance in 2020

KSU became a land-grant college in 1890 following the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Acts, and the departments of home economics, agriculture, and mechanics were added to the school's curriculum.[1][5] The school produced its first graduating class of five students in the spring of that year. A high school was organized in 1893. This expansion continued into the 20th century in both name and program. In 1902, the name was changed to Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons. The name was changed again in 1926 to Kentucky State Industrial College for Colored Persons.

In 1929, the high school was discontinued by president Rufus B. Atwood, since students were now entering college with a high school education.[5] In 1938, the school was named the Kentucky State College for Negroes.[1] The term "for Negroes" was dropped in 1952.

The civil engineering program was started in 1942 after the NAACP threatened a lawsuit on behalf of a black student who wanted to attend the engineering program at the University of Kentucky.[6]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the commencement speech at the 1957 graduation ceremonies titled, "Facing the Challenge of a New Age".[7][8]

In 1960, the first white student enrolled.[5] Kentucky State College became a university in 1972, renamed Kentucky State University.[5]



Demographics of undergraduate student body - Fall 2022 [3]
African American 80.7%
Asian American 0.5%
Non-Hispanic White American 8.0%
Hispanic American 2.1%
Native American 0.4%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.4%
Two or more races, non-Hispanic 4.3%
Nonresident 0.8%
Unknown 3.0%
Enrollment history
YearPop.±% p.a.
2006 2,500—    
2007 2,696+7.84%
2008 2,659−1.37%
2009 2,834+6.58%
2010 2,851+0.60%
2011 2,746−3.68%
2012 2,524−8.08%
2013 2,533+0.36%
2014 1,895−25.19%
2015 1,586−16.31%
2016 1,736+9.46%
2017 1,926+10.94%
2018 1,781−7.53%
2019 2,171+21.90%
2020 2,290+5.48%
2021 2,279−0.48%
2022 1,726−24.27%

Students are divided into five colleges, four associate degrees, 55 undergraduate degrees, and six postgraduate programs.[22][23]

  • College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Business and Computer Science
  • College of Professional Studies

The university also offers five liberal study degrees through the Whitney Young School (WYS) of Honors and Liberal Studies, which consists of a Honors Program, an Integrative Studies Program, and an International Studies Program.[24] The degrees include Africana Studies and Liberal Studies.[23]


As of 2022, Kentucky State University was host to 1,343 undergraduate students. African Americans comprised 81% of the undergraduate student body.[3]


The Paul G. Blazer Library,[25] constructed in 1960,[26] houses a collection of more than 700,000 items includes extensive reference, periodical, and circulating collections of materials such as books, videos, microforms, sound recordings, and others, to aid students in their course work and research.[27] It is named after Paul G. Blazer, a strong supporter of education[28] who was the founder and CEO of Ashland Oil and Refining Company in Ashland, Kentucky.

Pawpaw program

KYSU has the world's largest pawpaw (Asimina triloba) research planting.[29] The research program was started in 1990 with the aim of developing pawpaw as a new tree-fruit crop for Kentucky.[30][31] Pawpaw is the largest native fruit in the United States and has very few diseases compared to other orchard crops. KYSU is the site of the USDA National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Asimina species[32] and the pawpaw orchards at KYSU contain over 1,700 trees. Research activities include germplasm collection and variety trials, and efforts are directed towards improving propagation, understanding fruit ripening and storage, and developing orchard management practices. Cultivation is best in hardiness zones 5-9 and trees take 7–8 years from seedling to fruiting. KYSU has created the three cultivars 'KSU-Atwood', 'KSU-Benson', and 'KSU-Chappell', with focus on better flavors, higher yields, vigorous plants, and low seed-to-pulp ratios.[33][34][35][36][37]


Kentucky State University teams participate as a member of the Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The school's mascot are the Thorobreds. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, and indoor and outdoor track and field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, softball, and volleyball.[38] Kentucky State's main rivals include Tennessee State University, West Virginia State University, and Central State University.

The men's basketball team was national champions in 1970, 1971, and 1972 at the NAIA level.

The Exum Center, the university's athletic and recreational complex, was named after William Exum, the first African-American varsity football player at the University of Wisconsin.[39] Exum was hired as head of KSU's Physical Education department in 1949, and later made head of the Athletics department. He then became manager of the United States Track and Field teams at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics. Exum retired from KSU in 1980.

Mighty Marching Thorobreds

Kentucky State University's marching band is named the Mighty Marching Thorobreds (MMT). MMT is one of the largest student organizations on campus with over 200 members. MMT has several notable performances including the Honda Battle of the Bands in Atlanta and the National Battle of the Bands in Houston. MMT is accompanied by the K-Rettes danceline and Silk Flag Corps.[40]

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Ezzrett Anderson One of the first African Americans from a predominantly African-American school to play professional football when he joined the Los Angeles Dons of the All-American Football Conference in 1947. He also played with the Los Angeles Mustangs. He played for the Hollywood Bears in the Pacific Coast League when they won the title.
Michael Bernard Basketball player; the first from KSU to be drafted by the NBA in 1970 (Cincinnati Royals)
Anna Mac Clarke 1941 Member of Women's Army Corps during WWII; 1st African American officer of an otherwise all-white company
Tom Colbert First African-American Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice
Travis "Machine" Grant College basketball star on Kentucky State University's 1970, 1971 and 1972 NAIA National Championship teams. Played for the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Diego Conquistadors of the American Basketball Association
Jayjay Helterbrand Filipino Player of the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the Philippine Basketball Association, 2008–09 Philippine Basketball Association MVP
Rod Hill Former professional football player who played six seasons in the NFL (1982–1987) and later starred in the CFL
Cletidus Hunt Former professional football player who played six seasons in the NFL (1999–2004)
Joseph Kendall 1938 Former All-American Quarterback; dominated black college football in the 1930s while leading Kentucky State to a black college championship in 1934; the first person in KSU history to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame; inducted into the Kentucky State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975. He has been a teacher, coach, and parks administrator in Owensboro, Kentucky [41]
John Kenerson NFL, AFL and CFL player.
John Merritt 1950 Former head football coach at Jackson State University and Tennessee State University. One of the winningest coaches in HBCU football. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Council Rudolph Jr. 1972 A native of Anniston, AL graduated from Cobb Avenue High School in 1968. In his senior season, he helped the team go to a 9-0-1 championship season. He earned all-conference honors and a scholarship to Kentucky State. In his senior season, Kentucky State ended 8-3-0 and played in the Orange Blossom Classic Bowl game. He was a Pittsburgh Courier Honorable mention. He was inducted into both the Kentucky State Athletic Hall of Fame and Calhoun County (AL) Sports Hall of Fame. Drafted into the NFL in the seventh round, he helped the St. Louis Football Cardinals win two NFC East Championships (1974 & 1975). He retired after playing 6 seasons in the NFL with Houston, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
Yingluck Shinawatra 1991 The 28th and first female Prime Minister of Thailand
Benjamin F. Shobe 1941 Civil rights attorney and jurist who advocated for the desegregation of public education and public facilities in the Commonwealth of Kentucky
Sam Sibert Former college basketball standout; Drafted as the 19th player in the 1972 NBA Draft by the Cincinnati Royals
Moneta Sleet Jr. 1947 Photographer for Ebony, won a Pulitzer Prize for his picture of Coretta Scott King at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.
Effie Waller Smith ca. 1900 Educator & poet; poet James Still called her "Kentucky's Emily Dickinson"
Elmore Smith NBA and college basketball player, who is listed among the top rebounders in college basketball history, starred on KSU's 1970 and 1971 national championship teams. Holds the NAIA records for Rebounds in a Season (799 in 1971 also tops on the NCAA All-Divisions list, as well as being eighth with 682 in 1970) and Career Average (22.6, seventh on the NCAA All-Divisions list), while ranking eighth on the NCAA All-Divisions Career list with 1719 total despite being the only player in the top 10 to play only three seasons. Earned NCAA Division II First Team All-American honors in 1971. A seven-foot center, Smith played in the NBA for eight seasons (1971–1979) and was the third overall pick in the 1971 NBA draft for the Buffalo Braves; listed amongst all-time greatest shot-blockers in NBA history even though that statistic was only recorded for six of his seasons. Held the NBA Single-Season Block Shots Record of 393 while with the LA Lakers 1973-4 (Broken in 1984-5, but still a Lakers Record). [42]
Herb Trawick 1942 First black man to play in the Canadian Football League; played for the Montreal Alouettes 1946–1957 and was a seven-time All-Star; played in 4 Grey Cup Championships, winning in 1949; was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1975.
Luska Twyman Kentucky's first African American mayor in 1968 when he became mayor of Glasgow, Kentucky. [43]
Davey 'Wiz' Whitney 1953 Former head basketball coach at Texas Southern University and Alcorn State University. One of the winningest coaches in HBCU basketball. Inducted into National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame
Harrison Wilson, Jr. 1950 Became the second President of Norfolk State College in 1975
Whitney M. Young Jr. 1941 Former civil rights leader, educator and executive; former Executive Director who led the National Urban League through its most prosperous period; served many presidential commissions including as a Vietnam elections observer in 1967

Notable faculty


  1. ^ a b c d e f "History of Kentucky State University". Kentucky State University. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  2. ^ "CPE Interactive Data Center". Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Kentucky State University Common Data Set" (PDF). Kentucky State University. Retrieved July 28, 2023.
  4. ^ Hardin, 1995.
  5. ^ a b c d Cabiao, Howard (January 5, 2011). "Kentucky State University (1886- )".
  6. ^ "Key Events in Black Higher Education". September 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "King delivers "Facing the Challenge of a New Age" at Kentucky State College graduation ceremony". King Encyclopedia. Stanford University | Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. June 2, 1957. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  8. ^ "The Day Pastor King came 'blowin' in the wind'". FRANK. No. 124. January 16, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  9. ^ "Library Homepage: Jackson, John Henry". Hutchins Library, Berea College. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  10. ^ "Past Presidents". Kentucky State University.
  11. ^ a b A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890–1980. University Press of Kentucky. January 1, 1992. pp. 129–130. ISBN 978-0-916968-21-2.
  12. ^ "E.C. Lynch Offers B.C.C. Scholarship". The Baltimore Sun. Baltimore, Maryland. July 10, 1925. p. 26. ISSN 1930-8965.
  13. ^ a b Smith, Gerald L. (1994). A Black Educator in the Segregated South: Kentucky's Rufus B. Atwood. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 176–177. ISBN 9780813118567.
  14. ^ "KSU dean suspended after accusing superior of writing racist memo". The Courier-Journal. October 31, 1988. p. 7.
  15. ^ Lucke, Jamie (November 18, 1988). "'Disgusted' Burse will leave KSU". Lexington Herald-Leader. p. 9.
  16. ^ "President chosen". The Messenger. March 10, 1990. p. 3.
  17. ^ Gregory, Eric (October 8, 1991). "KSU regents charge Wolfe with 9 counts of misconduct". Messenger-Inquirer. p. 13.
  18. ^ Aulbach, Lucas (November 30, 2020). "Mary L. Smith, first woman to lead Kentucky State University, dies". The Courier-Times. p. 5.
  19. ^ Horn, Austin. "Former KSU president charged $73,000 on university credit card for trips in US, abroad". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  20. ^ "Brown resigns as president of Kentucky State University". Kentucky Today. October 6, 2021. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  21. ^ "Kentucky State University announces Dr. Ronald A. Johnson as interim president". LEX 18 News - Lexington, KY (WLEX). June 28, 2022. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  22. ^ "Quick Facts 2013-2014" (PDF). Kentucky State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  23. ^ a b "KSU Academic Programs". Kentucky State University. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  24. ^ "Whitney Young School of Honors and Liberal Studies". Kentucky State University. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  25. ^ "Welcome to Paul G. Blazer Library".
  26. ^ "Kentucky State University 1960 Yearbook" – via Internet Archive.
  27. ^ "Welcome to The University Library".
  28. ^ Massie, Joseph L. (1992). "Blazer, Paul Garrett". In Kleber, John E. (ed.). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 87–88. ISBN 0813128838.
  29. ^ Downs, Jere. "Pawpaw: America's forgotten fruit". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  30. ^ "Hunting for pawpaws a cherished Ky. tradition". Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  31. ^ Laub, Abby (July 18, 2013). "Pawpaw-palooza". Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  32. ^ "USDA National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Asimina spp. at KSU | Kentucky State University".
  33. ^ "The Pawpaw Regional Variety Trial".
  34. ^ "PawPaw | Kentucky State University".
  35. ^ Kaiser, Cheryl; Ernst, Matt (July 2018). "Pawpaw" (PDF). University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Cooperative Extension Service.
  36. ^ "Chapter: Propagation, The Pawpaw M. Brett Callaway. Originally published as a booklet in 1990 by Kentucky State University, edited and converted to web format in 1998 by Snake C. Jones". Kentucky State University.
  37. ^ "2009 Pawpaw Cultivars and Grafted Tree Sources | Kentucky State University".
  38. ^ "KSU Thorobreds". Kentucky State University. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  39. ^ "Exum, William". University of Kentucky Libraries. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  40. ^ "Kentucky State University | Marching Band".
  41. ^ Information supplied by The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame press release May 1, 2007
  42. ^ "NAIA Men's Basketball Division I and Division II Regular-Season Records :: Individual & Team Records". Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved May 6, 2007.
  43. ^ Talbott, Tim. "Kentucky State University". ExploreKYHistory.

Further reading

  • Hardin, John A. The Pursuit of Excellence: Kentucky State University, 1886-2020 (2021) online
  • Hardin, John A. "Green Pinckney Russell of Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons." Journal of Black Studies 25.5 (1995): 610–621. excerpt, now renamed as Kentucky State University at Frankfort

External links

This page was last edited on 24 June 2024, at 16:22
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