When walking through campus, it is inevitable that you are passing some sort of statue or plaque. We all know about the ancient dorms of Dorman and Smith, but really how old is this campus? What do the statues and fountains and memorials mean? My grandmother went to Florida State in the 50’s and can still walk through campus with familiarity and see her old dorm room in Jenny Murphy.
Florida State Seminary absorbed Florida Institute in 1857 as a higher education for men only. The former Florida Institute was located where the Westcott Building currently stands. It became co-education the following year in 1858 when it absorbed Tallahassee Female Academy. The First Presbyterian Church building located right next to campus is the older public building in Tallahassee built in 1838. It played a crucial role in the education of the first leaders.
At the end of the civil war in 1865 the school started adapting. Only seven Bachelor of Arts degrees were awarded, and the first diplomas were handed out. It took awhile for the well-established campus to evolve. It was the first liberal arts college in the state at 1897 and was officially change to Florida State College in 1901. Three years later was the beginning of the first university library. The student enrollment number was 252 men and women.
Of course gender education was segregated over 100 years ago, and the University of Florida in Gainesville became the designated men’s college. Florida State was renamed Florida Female College labeled for women. Florida State College for Women grew to be the third largest in the United States. The school returned co-ed in 1947 after then returning veterans from World War II. The student enrollment was at 4,056, and the Seminole was made the official mascot. In this time football started up and The Flying High Circus was established. Campbell Stadium was built three years after. Tully Gymnasium, Strozier Library, and the Business building were built in the 1950s to compensate for the expansion of the growing population.
The 1960’s were a crucial time for development of both infrastructure and identity. Institutions were being born and buildings, including the Oglesby Union and Fine Arts Building, were constructed. The first African American enrolled in 1962, and the first African American Ph.D candidates graduated in 1970. Students expressed their activism of political issues, racial disagreement and controversial issues on campus. At one point Florida State was nicknamed ‘Berkeley of the South’, after the activism that took place at the University of California in Berkeley. Landis Green was home to activism and protests and “streaking."
Now our well-established campus is home to 16 separate colleges and compromises more than 300 programs of study. Florida State was the first state university in Florida. While the campus hasn’t changed too much, everything else has.