Stillman College is a historically black college founded in 1876. Located at 3601 Stillman Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, it is a private liberal arts institution of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities with approximately 1,500 students. The college is a member of the United Negro College Fund and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The president is Ernest McNealey. The student newspaper is The Tiger's Paw. The 105 acre college campus offers several programs of study. The Division of Arts and Sciences includes: art, biology, business with concentrations in accounting, marketing, and management; English, history, mathematics, music, and nursing. The Division of Education includes: psychology, elementary education and health & physical education.
Stillman College was originally authorized by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1875, held its first classes in 1876 and was chartered as a legal corporation by the State of Alabama in 1895. At that time, the name was changed from Tuscaloosa Institute to Stillman Institute. The institute was a concept initiated by the Reverend Dr Charles Allen Stillman, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa.
The institute's main building was described as, "a strikingly handsome edifice...on a hill overlooking the city of Tuscaloosa and commanding a fine view on every side. Constructed in a lavish style in the ante-bellum period, with its magnificent pillars, exactly true to the Corinthian style of architecture, one is impressed with its imposing appearance. It has a spacious hall, on either side of which are two large rooms which, by reason of the large sliding doors between them, are well adapted to school-room purposes. Other features of the building are equally good. The strength and durabiliy of its massive walls are not inferior to its architectural beauty."
A junior and senior high school was organized, along with a training institute for those called to become preachers or missionaries. Students were expected to labor in the institute's gardens and twenty acres of fields, or in other industrial pursuits, to pay for their board. Two boys accepted into the Institute, Kassongo and Kondola, were brought from the Congo Free State by missionary Samuel Phillips Varner in 1898.
Under the administration of Dr. Samuel Burney Hay (1948–1965), the school expanded into a senior liberal arts institution and in 1948 the name was officially changed to Stillman College. The following year, Stillman expanded into a four-year college and graduated its first baccalaureate class in 1951. The College was accredited in 1953. Under Dr. Hay, seven new buildings were constructed: a gymnasium, a library, an administration-classroom building, two women’s residence halls, a prayer chapel, and a student center.
Dr. Harold N. Stinson (1967–1980) was the first African-American to assume the presidency. Under his leadership, new programs designed to improve educational quality were instituted, and the physical plant was expanded with the addition of two men’s residence halls, faculty apartments, a maintenance building, and a mathematics-science center. Snedecor Hall, Batchelor Building, and Birthright Auditorium were renovated.
Under the leadership of the College’s fourth president, Dr. Cordell Wynn (1982–1997), the appearance of the campus improved dramatically; Winsborough Hall and John Knox Hall were renovated; and the Marie Lundy Wynn Hall and Johnson/Robinson Student Health Center were erected. The enrollment grew beyond 1,000 students; the endowment increased significantly; and the educational program was broadened to include the Stillman Management Institute and a community-service component.
On July 1, 1997, Dr Ernest McNealey was named the fifth president. Since then, Stillman has garnered national attention in the areas of technology, athletics and scholarly pursuits. One of the leaders in wireless computing, the College received the National Innovation in Technology Award by Apple Computers and continues to be on the cusp of technological innovations in higher education. The College’s football program and marching band were revitalized and the College experienced its largest enrollment in the history of the institution. Dr McNealey infused new life into the academic component by strengthening the curriculum, and attracting a highly qualified faculty (84% hold terminal degrees), improving admissions standards, and enhancing the value of a Stillman education with the addition of guaranteed outcome programs.
In 2004 Stillman College received its first-ever ranking among top tier schools in U.S. News & World Report and continued to hold that distinction. By 2022 it had fallen to an overall score of 40/100, ranking 63rd of 132 regional institutions in the South, and 59th out of 77 HBCUs. In 2023 Stillman decided to no longer participate in the magazine's rankings.
The college's intercollegiate athletic teams, the Tigers and Lady Tigers, compete in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in Division II of the NCAA. The sports fielded at Stillman include:
- Men's & Women's Basketball
- Track & Field
- Al Denson, president and CEO of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport
- Dwayne Murray, Chief of the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service
- John Rice, Presbyterian minister
- Erica Robbins, founder of Be A Blessing Birmingham
- Wilson, O. B. (July 9, 1899) "The Southwestern Presbyterian for last week presents." The Montgomery Advertiser, p. 10
- "Stillman College" (March 11, 2011) Wikipedia - accessed May 1, 2011
- Griesbach, Rebecaa (May 8, 2023) "Alabama HBCU withdraws from US News & World Report rankings: ‘Flawed’." AL.com
- Stillman College Official web site