USA: A Brief History
The University of South Alabama (USA) was founded in 1963 without a single building to call its own. Approaching 60 years and many buildings later, USA is a vibrant university that continues to serve as a catalyst for transformational change that impacts our state, the Gulf Coast region and the world.
USA’s story began in the early 1960s, when Mobile’s civic leaders saw the need to improve access to higher education in southwest Alabama. Realizing the region had outgrown the small extension program that operated out of a building downtown, they formulated plans for a four-year, degree-granting institution. On May 3, 1963, a bill creating a new, independent university successfully passed the Alabama Legislature, and USA was born.
Classes began in June 1964 at a new, $1 million building in west Mobile with an initial enrollment of 276. The extent of the pent-up demand for education became obvious when the first fall semester began. Enrollment leaped to 928 — and it continues to grow. Today, USA enrolls more than 13,500 students annually and has awarded more than 90,000 degrees. Its alumni are leaders in business, industry, healthcare, education and the arts.
The first campus building is now named the Frederick Palmer Whiddon Administration Building, after USA’s first president. Whiddon had a vision that established the University, and he remained at its helm until retiring in 1998. His successor, longtime faculty member and administrator V. Gordon Moulton, oversaw a new era of growth into the 21st Century. Dr. Tony G. Waldrop, selected in 2014 as the University’s third president, continued the USA tradition of visionary leadership focused on discovery, health and learning.
As new programs attracted more students, the University’s footprint and facilities expanded. Almost from the moment USA accepted its first students, leaders began ambitiously working toward establishing a medical school. The Whiddon College of Medicine charter class began in 1973, and USA’s focus on health education was later complemented by the College of Nursing and the Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions.
Today, USA provides a high-quality education in business, the liberal arts, education, engineering, computing, the sciences and healthcare. South’s 1,200-acre campus has been transformed over the past decade with new facilities and resources. It offers more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through its 11 colleges and schools. On the east side of Mobile Bay, USA’s Baldwin County campuses provide Eastern Shore residents with convenient access to healthcare and educational programs.
USA is a comprehensive research institution where faculty have created an environment that supports curiosity and discovery. Its researchers are problem-solvers and pioneers in developing new technologies and promoting bold ideas to create targeted solutions for today’s complex world.
USA Health – through Children’s & Women’s Hospital, University Hospital, Mitchell Cancer Institute, Academic Physician practices, Health Care Authority practices and the Whiddon College of Medicine – provides care across our region and, along with the College of Nursing and Covey College of Allied Health Professions, is an extraordinary training ground for future physicians and healthcare professionals.
A charter member of the Sun Belt Conference, USA fields 17 Division I sports teams,
and is routinely recognized for excellence in both athletics and academics. Today,
USA is the proud home to Hancock Whitney Stadium, which hosts all Jaguars home football
games and other events. The University of South Alabama continues upward and onward
as the Flagship of the Gulf Coast.
|May 3, 1963
|USA founded by an act of the Alabama Legislature.
|First meeting of the USA Board of Trustees; Dr. Frederick P. Whiddon named president.
|The University moved from 154 St. Louis Street to its present location in west Mobile.
|First classes began; initial enrollment totaled 276 students.
|Gov. George C. Wallace dedicates the University of South Alabama campus.
|The jaguar was adopted as the University's mascot.
|Ground-breaking for Alpha Dorms, the University's first residence hall complex.
|Eighty-eight baccalaureate degrees were conferred at the first commencement.
|The University was admitted membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
|The University acquired the 327-acre Brookley Conference Center.
|A resolution of the Alabama Legislature supported establishment of a medical school under the auspices of the University of South Alabama.
|Mobile General Hospital was transferred to the University.
|Dr. Robert M. Bucher named first dean of the College of Medicine.
|The charter class of 25 students entered the College of Medicine.
|Mobile General Hospital was renamed University of South Alabama Medical Center.
|The University became a charter member of the Sun Belt Athletic Conference.
|The University's first Ph.D. program —in Basic Medical Sciences— was initiated.
|The USA Children's and Women's Hospital was established.
|The University of South Alabama Baldwin County branch was established.
|The former Providence Hospital was acquired by the University to house programs of the colleges of Allied Health Professions, Medicine, and Nursing.
|The University acquired Doctors Hospital and Knollwood Park Hospital.
|Dedication of the Frederick Palmer Whiddon Administration Building.
|Dr. Frederick Whiddon retires as USA's only president in its 35-year history.
|V. Gordon Moulton named University President.
|Dedication of the John W. Laidlaw Performing Arts Center.
|Naming of the Mitchell College of Business, recognizing endowments of faculty chairs and scholarships by the Mitchell family of Mobile.
|Dedication of the USA Children's Park, a 16-acre park at USA Children's and Women's Hospital displaying bronze sculptures celebrating children and families.
|Refurbishment of Alumni Hall completed following more than $40,000 in contributions from the Toulmin family and the USA Alumni Association.
|Establishment of the USA Cancer Research Institute, later re-named the Mitchell Cancer Institute.
|Creation of the University Research and Technology Park Corporation.
|The University awarded it 50,000th degree at Fall Commencement.
|Dedication of the 53,000-square-foot addition to the University Library.
|Dedication of the new 16-acre Intramural Athletics Complex and Field House.
|Dedication of the Mentor Graphics Corporation Building, the first building in the USA Technology and Research Park.
|Dedication of the Larry D. Striplin III Basketball Practice Facility.
|Completion of a second building in the USA Technology and Research Park.
|Implementation of a new $6.2 million campus transportation system, Jag Tran.
|Groundbreaking ceremony held for USA's cancer institute, which was later named the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.
|Dedication of Stanky Field, following a $3.8 million renovation.
|USA and Infirmary Health System announce a strategic healthcare alliance to enhance healthcare in the region and provide innovative cancer treatment and research through the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.
|Launching of the University's first comprehensive fund-raising campaign.
|The USA Cancer Research Institute is renamed the Mitchell Cancer Institute following a $22 million gift in support of the Institute from the Mitchell family of Mobile.
|Infirmary Health System assumes operation of former USA Knollwood Hospital as Infirmary West at Knollwood.
|Dedication of Meisler Hall, an $8 million student services building named in honor of the Meisler family of Mobile, who donated $2 million to endow the facility.
|Dedication of the $2.2 million Alfred and Lucile Delchamps Archaeology Building, which serves as a public museum of ancient artifacts and a teaching and research center as home of the USA Center for Archaeological Studies. The building was created in part through the generosity of the Delchamps family of Mobile.
|A joint pharmacy program between USA and Auburn University was established, with plans to admit the first class of students in fall 2007. Graduates of the pharmacy program in Mobile receive a degree from the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy at the University of South Alabama.
|Dedication of the Joseph and Rebecca Mitchell Learning Resource Center at the Mitchell College of Business, a $2.5 million facility that significantly improves the learning environment for USA business students.
|The natural connections among Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health Professions were acknowledged through a new cooperative administrative structure under the guidance of the first Vice President for Health Sciences, Dr. Ron Franks.
|The University names its first vice president for health systems, Stan Hammack, who will oversee the clinical operations of USA’s health system, including its hospitals and physician practice.
|Began construction of the new $45 million Health Sciences Building, which will bring the colleges of Allied Health Professions and Nursing back to USA’s main campus.
|Hired first Vice President for Research, Dr. Russ Lea, symbolizing USA’s ever-expanding programs in research, outreach and scholarly activity.
|Opening of a privately funded student apartment complex, The Grove, which by fall 2008 housed 1,000 students.
|Celebrated the grand opening of the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy at the University of South Alabama and welcomed its inaugural class of students.
|USA students presented a petition to President Moulton in support of football and marching band programs during half-time at a Jaguar Men’s Basketball game.
|USA Trustees approve NCAA-sanctioned football and marching band programs.
|The historic number of degrees awarded by the University topped 60,000.
|USA hired its first football coach, Joey Jones.
|Public groundbreaking held during Homecoming for USA Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza.
|Plans for USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital expansion approved by USA Board of Trustees.
|Public groundbreaking ceremony held for new state-of-the-art, 116,000-square-foot Student Recreation Center.
|USA officially begins new marching band program with announcement of band’s first director, Ward Miller.
|USA unveils new athletic and marching band logo.
|Dedication of the new USA Mitchell Cancer Institute building, which represents a total investment of more than $135 million, including $75 million in construction and equipment.
|Conclusion of the University's first comprehensive fund-raising campaign, which resulted in more than $93.5 million for USA programs, faculty, students and construction.
|Launched inaugural season of USA’s football and marching band programs.
|Dedication of the Health Sciences Building, new home of the colleges of Allied Health Professions and Nursing.
|Groundbreaking ceremony for Shelby Hall Engineering and Computing Sciences Building.
|Dedication of the Football Field House and practice fields.
|Dedication of Veterans Memorial Plaza, which is dedicated to the students, alumni, faculty and staff who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
|Completion of the new USA Jaguar Marching Band drill tower and pavilion.
|First classes held in the new glass arts building, a 5,000-square-foot facility in the Visual Arts complex.
|Dedication of the new state-of-the-art, 116,000-square-foot Student Recreation Center.
|Dedication of Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza.
|Groundbreaking on USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital expansion.
|Opening of a new 20,000-square-foot dining hall near residence halls.
|Opening of Stokes Hall, a 330-bed residence hall that includes the
University’s first Faculty in Residence and incorporates the concept of
|September 9, 2012
|Dedication of Shelby Hall, home of College of Engineering and School of Computing.
|May 3, 2013
|50th Anniversary of USA’s founding.
|April 2, 2014
|Dr. Tony G. Waldrop takes office as USA’s third president.
|Total enrollment surpasses 16,000 for the first time in University history; total fall enrollment is 16,055.
|The J.L. Bedsole Foundation pledges $1 million to establish the J.L. Bedsole Foundation Endowed Scholarship Fund.
|The Jaguar football team plays in its first post-season game, the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
|Two spring commencement ceremonies are held to accommodate USA’s growing enrollment.
|Fanny and Bert Meisler create a $1 million endowment to enhance Jewish Studies.
|New doctoral program in computing announced; USA now offers 100 degree programs.
|The University's first Convocation welcomes freshmen and new students.
|Record enrollment of 16,462 students.
|Launch of the Upward & Onward $150 million fundraising campaign.
|Pathway USA degree completion program with area community colleges announced.
|First university-wide branding campaign launched with “We Are South” tagline.
|USA Mitchell Cancer Institute breaks ground on new clinic in Fairhope.
|Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library relocates to Marx Library on main campus.
|Fall enrollment, ACT scores set new records.
|USA and Spring Hill College announce cross-registration enrollment options for students.
|Global USA created to oversee international outreach and engagement.
|College of Education renamed to College of Education and Professional Studies.
|Upward & Onward campaign reaches $100 million milestone.
|Jaguar athletics wins third straight Sun Belt all-sports trophy.
|Mitchell Cancer Institute opens Kilborn Clinic in Fairhope.
|USA University Libraries celebrate 50 years
|Meisler family gifts $5 million for new Trauma Center
|Jaguar athletics wins Sun Belt Conference all-sports trophy for fourth straight year
|USA Health launches emergency air service partnership
|USA Medical Center renamed USA Health University Hospital
|Mapp family gifts $1 million to Children's & Women's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
|Pathway USA expands to Pensacola State College
|Mobile County commits $2.5 million to new football stadium
|University and bank officials announce the naming of Hancock Whitney Stadium; construction to be complete by 2020.
|University approved to offer Ph.D. in business administration.
|College of Engineering celebrates 50 years.
|USA Health University Hospital earns The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for accreditation.
|South awarded $3.8 million from NASA and Department of Energy for ionic liquids research.
|College of Medicine awarded a $4.4 million federal grant to improve the health of underserved areas and increase the number of primary care physicians.
|Women’s soccer wins sixth conference tournament title in seven years.
|University receives more than $87 million in external and contract funding in 2019, a 43-percent increase from 2018.
|The MacQueen Alumni Center opens across from Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza.
|South switches to remote learning due to COVID-19 pandemic.
|USA announces Start South dual enrollment program for high school students.
|USA Health announces plans for what would later be named the Mapp Family Campus in Baldwin County.
|The Jags football team plays its first home game in Hancock Whitney Stadium.
|USA Health breaks ground on a freestanding emergency clinic at Old Shell and Hillcrest roads.
|The University announces completion of its $150 million Upward & Onward campaign, exceeding its goal by $10.9 million by raising $160.9 million. More than 23,000 individuals, businesses and foundations donated to the campaign.
|Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Bert Meisler take part in ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $20 million Fanny Meisler Level 1 Trauma Center at University Hospital.
|$20 million Fanny Meisler Trauma Center at USA Hospital opens. The 27,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility is the region’s only level-1 trauma center. Bert Meisler donates $5 million for the project.
|Dr. Tony Waldrop announces his retirement after serving as the University’s president for seven years.
|South launches the School of Marine & Environmental Sciences.
|Drs. John & Sally Steadman pledge a $3.8 million gift to the College of Engineering.
|The University hosts the South Alabama Band Championship at Hancock Whitney Stadium. More than 20 high schools and 2,300 student musicians from across the region participate in the inaugural event.
|The USA Board of Trustees announce Jo Bonner as University president. He becomes just the 4th president in the University’s 58-year history.
|USA Health opens a free-standing Emergency Department in West Mobile.
|Dr. Andrea (Andi) Kent named USA Executive Vice President & Provost.
|: USA Board of Trustees approves a resolution naming the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine, honoring the University’s first president; a new Whiddon College of Medicine building will be constructed.
|South inaugurates Josiah R. Bonner as University’s 4th President.
|The Multicultural Leadership Center celebrates its grand opening.
|USA Health opens the Mapp Family Campus Medical Office Building in Baldwin County.
Jaguar football team completes its first 10-win season and 3rd bowl invitation.
The University begins a year-long celebration of its 60 th Anniversary. USA’s Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine and the College of Nursing both celebrate 50 th anniversaries in 2023.
Longtime USA supporter Abraham “Abe” Mitchell pledges $20 million for a new performing arts building.
Pole vaulter Kyle Rademeyer claims a national championship at the 2023 Track & Field Championships in Austin, Texas. The junior cleared a height of 18-feet-8.25 inches to win the title.
South’s first-year enrollment increases by 19 percent, making the Class of 2027 one of the largest in the University’s history.
The USA Foundation donates more than a quarter mile of property on Dauphin Island’s Aloe Bay. It will be used as a “living laboratory” for marine science education and research.
The University announces that fundraising has begun for a new 24,000 square-foot home for the Jaguar Marching Band. The proposed facility is expected to cost $10 million and will feature a lighted outdoor practice field as well as a rehearsal studio, dressing rooms and a music library.
Providence Hospital joins USA Health. The 349-bed facility, along with eight clinics and six family practices is renamed USA Providence and brings more than 1,700 physicians, associates and providers into the USA Health family.
The Jaguar women’s soccer team defeats Arkansas State 3-1 completing an undefeated regular season for the first time in program history. The Jags’ finished the regular season 8-0-2.
The University holds a groundbreaking ceremony for a new $200 million Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine building. The 250,000 square-foot facility will allow the University to expand class size from 80 to more than 100 students.
The Jaguar football team wins its first bowl game in program history by routing Eastern Michigan University 59-10 in the 68 Ventures Bowl held at Hancock Whitney Stadium.