History & Traditions
The University of West Alabama was chartered in 1835 as a church-related female academy and admitted its first students in 1839. After difficult times during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, the school reopened in the late 1860s or early 1870s. Although it appears that a few male students were admitted following the reopening, a resolution by the Board of Trustees in 1876 excluded boys and this policy was followed until the beginning of the 20th century.
The UWA Mission
Our mission is to provide opportunities for students to pursue a quality education through associate, baccalaureate, master’s and education specialist degrees in liberal arts, natural sciences and mathematics, pre-professional programs, nursing, technology, business and education. Our curricula facilitates the development of enhanced skills in critical thinking, communication, leadership and computer literacy. We also seek to offer students opportunities for growth beyond the classroom through a wide range of extracurricular activities, programs and services, all in an environment rooted in cultural and intellectual diversity.
From 1881 to 1910, the school at Livingston was under the direction of the noted educator and reformer Julia Tutwiler, who succeeded in getting a small appropriation from the State Legislature in 1883 to establish normal school training for girls at Livingston Female Academy. According to statements in the University archives, this is believed to be the first State appropriation in Alabama made exclusively for the education of women. The first normal school diplomas were granted in 1886.
Livingston Female Academy and State Normal College continued as a private institution with some State support until 1907, when the State assumed full control. However, it remained under its own board of trustees until the Legislature created a State Board of Trustees for all the normal schools in 1911. In 1919, this board was abolished and all state normal schools were placed under the supervision of the State Board of Education. During these early years, the school offered both secondary education and normal school programs for the training of teachers.
In 1929, the school at Livingston became State Teachers College, Livingston, Alabama, with the authority to confer the degree of Bachelor of Science. The Bachelor of Arts degree was authorized in 1947. Although the institution had begun accepting male students soon after 1900, the student body remained predominantly female through the 1950s.
In 1957, the name was again changed by an act of Legislature — this time to Livingston State College — and the following year, the mission of the institution was broadened when the Graduate Division was established and the College was authorized to confer master’s degrees in the field of professional education. In 1967, an act of the Legislature created Livingston University with its own Board of Trustees.
In 1995, the institution recognized its broader mission as a regional university serving the educational needs of all the citizens of the area by changing its name to the University of West Alabama.
Meet the President
Dr. Ken Tucker
Dr. Ken Tucker, a native of Linden and long-time resident of Demopolis before moving to campus, holds B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Alabama and an MBA degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He became the twelfth president of the University of West Alabama on January 1, 2015. Previously, he served as dean of UWA’s College of Business and Technology and as Professor of Management. Tucker has also served as Chairperson of the UWA Foundation’s Board of Directors. During his previous tenure at then Livingston University, he was President of the Faculty Senate and received the Outstanding Business Faculty Award.
Snapshots of Life at UWA
Here’s just a glimpse of our vibrant, diverse community.