Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), now doubly named after its city home, Winston-Salem, NC, started out as the Slater Industrial Academy founded by Dr. Simon Green Atkins–son of former slaves– on September 28, 1892. Atkins had an audacious vision to create an institution where every student would meet the challenges of the day equipped with an education designed to intellectually prepare the “head, hand, and heart.” In 1925, the General Assembly of North Carolina recognized the school’s curriculum above high school, changed its name to Winston-Salem Teachers College, and empowered it under authority of the State Board of Education to confer appropriate degrees. Winston-Salem Teachers College thus became the first black institution in the nation to grant degrees for teaching the elementary grades. In recognition of the university’s growing curriculum and expanding role, in 1972, WSSU became one of the 16 constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina. The university is now number one in the UNC system for North Carolina job placement for graduates and number one in the UNC system for the average salary for triad-area graduates. It is home to an award-winning student activities center, top 25 division II football, basketball and baseball programs, and offers students 100-plus student organizations.
Notable Alumni Include: Louis Farrakhan- leader of the Nation of Islam; Earl “The Pearl” Monroe- NBA Champion; Lorraine H. Morton- the first African American and longest-serving mayor of Evanston, Illinois; Stephen A. Smith- Sports Columnist/ ESPN host.