Tennessee State University was founded over 100 years ago, in 1909, when the Tennessee General Assembly authorized a “state normal (i.e., teacher training) school for Negroes”. The decision was made to establish the new school in the state capital of Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. William Jasper Hale was named as the first "Superintendent" of the new Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial (A&I) State Normal School when it opened its doors in June of 1912.
Dr. Hale hand-picked the first TSU faculty members from graduates of top HBCUs across the nation, and in its first few years Tennessee A&I quickly adopted a pre-college curriculum for its students; by 1922 Dr. Hale and his faculty had increased enrollment *and* elevated the school’s curriculum to full collegiate status, even while having to deal with the state’s outrageous, pernicious, and protracted race-based fiscal discrimination.
In September 1948, Tennessee A&I established an education curriculum for students who had an interest in the then- (and still-) growing field of engineering. In 1951, when Tennessee State A&I Normal College became Tennessee A&I State University, its technology education program was elevated to the status of the University’s Division of Engineering, capable of granting accredited college degrees in multiple engineering disciplines.
In the sixty-plus years since it was established, and after undergoing numerous name changes into its present incarnation, the Tennessee State University College of Engineering maintains its world-class reputation of excellence in engineering education as one of the top three HBCU engineering schools in the nation, and it has become the leading producer of minority engineers ever in the state of Tennessee.