History of Florida State University

The history of Florida State University dates to the 19th century and is deeply intertwined with the history of education in the state of Florida and in the city of Tallahassee. Florida State University, known colloquially as Florida State and FSU, is one of the oldest and largest of the institutions in the State University System of Florida. It traces its origins to the West Florida Seminary, one of two state-funded seminaries the Florida Legislature voted to establish in 1851.

The West Florida Seminary, also known as the Florida State Seminary, opened for classes in Tallahassee in 1857, absorbing the Florida Institute, which had been established as an inducement for the state to place the seminary in the city. The former Florida Institute property, located where the historic Westcott Building now stands, is the oldest continuously used site of higher education in Florida. The area, slightly west of the state Capitol, was formerly and ominously known as Gallows Hill, a place for public executions in early Tallahassee. In 1858 the seminary absorbed the Tallahassee Female Academy, established in 1843, and became coeducational.

In 1863, during the American Civil War, Florida's Confederate government added a military school to the institution, and changed its name to the Florida Military and Collegiate Institute. The school fielded student soldiers into an organized unit of the institution, which helped successfully repel a Union attack on Tallahassee. In 1883, it became part of the Florida University, the first state-supported university to be founded in Florida. The university project struggled with a lack of legislative support, and the seminary soon returned to its old name, but focused increasingly on modern-style secondary education. In 1905 the Buckman Act restructured higher education in Florida, and the school was reorganized as a college for white women, the Florida State College for Women. After World War II, the school was made coeducational once again to help accommodate the influx of students entering college under the G.I. Bill, and was renamed Florida State University. It became racially integrated in 1963, and was noted as a center of student activism during the 1960s. Through the 20th and 21st centuries Florida State University has grown in both size and academic prominence, with a particular focus on graduate and doctoral research.

Read more about History Of Florida State University:  Foundation, Civil War and Reconstruction, Buckman Act, Wartime Changes, Student Activism and Racial Integration, Pathways of Excellence, Presidents

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