Return to the Fayetteville State University Home Page

Charles W. Chesnutt Library Archives and Special Collections

LibraryArchivesFSU History


Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM





Mailing Address

Archives and Special Collections

Charles W. Chesnutt Library

Fayetteville State University

1200 Murchison Rd

Fayetteville, NC 28301



Alumni Gates

Alumni Gates

Fayetteville State Teachers College Sign

Fayetteville State Teachers College Sign

Howard School Class, 1906

Howard School Class, 1906

Howard School Founded in 1867

Howard School
Founded in 1867

Alumni Gates Dedicated in 1925

Alumni Gates
Dedicated in 1925


History of Fayetteville State University

Historical Sketch

In 1867, seven Black men: Matthew N. Leary, Andrew J. Chesnutt, Robert Simmons, George Grainger, Thomas Lomax, Nelson Carter, and David A. Bryant paid $136 for two lots on Gillespie Street and converted them into  a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees to permanently maintain the property as a site for the education of  Black children in Fayetteville. The deed was registered on November 29, 1867 by Robert Simmons to the Howard School. General O. O. Howard of the Freedman's Bureau, one of the best-known friends  of Black education, erected a building on this site which became known as the Howard School. By an 1877 legislative act, the North Carolina General Assembly provided funds for a Normal School for the education of Black teachers. The Howard School was chosen because of its successful record of academic accomplishment during the previous ten years. It was designated a teacher training institution, and its name was changed to the State Colored Normal School.


Five Chief Administrative Officers served the school from 1867 to 1899:

Robert L. Harris, Principal (1867-1880)

Charles W. Chesnutt, Principal (1880-1883)

Ezekiel Ezra (E. E.) Smith, Principal (1883-1888)

George Williams, Principal (1888-1895)

E. E. Smith, Principal (1895-1898)

Rev. L. E. Fairley, Principal (1898-1899)


In 1899, Dr. E.E. Smith returned to the institution. Under his presidency, the school grew from three rooms in a small frame structure to a physical plant of ten buildings on a fifty-acre tract of land. In order to pay  for   the land, Dr. Smith, along with F. D. Williston, E. N. Williams, J. G. Smith and Dr. P. N. Melchor, endorsed a note for 3,000.00. The note was renewed several times and eventually paid off by Dr. Smith. He later deeded the land to the State. Dr. Smith retired in 1933 at the age of 80 with more than 40 years of service to the institution.

Dr. J. Ward Seabrook became the next president that same year. During Seabrook's Administration the school was authorized to grant the Bachelor of Science degree in Education and, subsequently renamed, Fayetteville State Teachers College. In 1947, the college received both state and regional accreditation.

Dr. Seabrook retired in 1956 and was succeeded by Dr. Rudolph Jones who had been serving as the school's dean. During Dr. Jones' administration, the curriculum was expanded to include majors in secondary education and programs leading to degrees outside the teaching field. The name of the school was changed to Fayetteville State College in 1963. Also, under Dr. Jones' leadership, six additions were made to the physical plant to accommodate a rapidly expanding enrollment.

In 1969, the institution acquired its present name, "Fayetteville State University," and Dr. Charles "A" Lyons, Jr. succeeded Dr. Rudolph Jones as president of the university. By a legislative act in 1972, Fayetteville State University became a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina System. The legislation also changed the title of the Chief Executive Officer to Chancellor which made Dr. Lyons the first Chancellor of the university. During his tenure, the curriculum was expanded to include a variety of both baccalaureate and master's level programs. In addition, the Fort Bragg-Pope AFB Extension Center in conjunction with the Week-End and Evening College, was established to provide military personnel and other persons working full-time the opportunity to advance their education.

The general academic structure of the university assumed its present configuration in 1985 when it became a Comprehensive Level I Institution. During this period, the university expanded the number of programs and services being offered, and constructed the Charles W. Chesnutt Library, the physical plant and six other  buildings.

On January 1, 1988, Dr. Lloyd V. Hackley became the eighth Chief Executive Officer of the University. During his administration, the first doctoral program was established in Educational Leadership. Baccalaureate program offerings were also expanded to 36 disciplines in the arts and sciences, business and economics, and education. The addition for the ultra-modern Business and Economics building and the new Health,  Physical Education and Recreation Complex under-scored Dr. Hackley's commitment to FSU's continued expansion and growth. Chancellor Hackley strengthened FSU's community outreach to at-risk children in the public schools, established numerous scholarships and tutor/mentor programs. FSU's first major capital campaign was also completed during Dr. Hackley's tenure and, as a result enabled the university to increase  its privately funded student scholarships to over 200. On December 31, 1994, Dr. Hackley resigned to become President of the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges, the first African-American to lead North Carolina's system of 59 community colleges.

Dr. Donna J. Benson, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs of The University of North Carolina served as FSU's interim Chancellor from January 1, 1995 to November 14, 1995.

Dr. Willis B. McLeod, a 1964 graduate of Fayetteville State University, was appointed Chancellor on    November 15, 1995 bringing over 30 years of professional experience in the field of education. He was the  ninth Chief Executive Officer of the 135-year-old institution, and the first alumnus to serve as Chancellor   since FSU became a constituent of The University of North Carolina. Several major initiatives were established by Dr. McLeod to lead FSU into the 21st century and included the Freshmen Year Initiative program, major campus improvements, a master plan for the revitalization of Murchison Road and several outreach efforts aimed at forging stronger community ties and regional partnerships with public school and university leaders. Dr. McLeod retired as Chancellor on June 30, 2003 with emeritus status. Upon return from a year of research leave, he will be appointed to the position of an endowed distinguished professor   chair in the FSU School of Education.

Dr. T. J. (Thelma Jane) Bryan was elected by the University Of North Carolina Board Of Governors on June 18, 2003. Dr. Bryan started her duties on July 1, 2003, as the tenth Chief Executive Officer of Fayetteville State University and the first woman elected by the University Of North Carolina Board Of Governors to lead the 136-year-old institution as Chancellor. She was also the first African-American woman appointed as head of a University of North Carolina institution. During her four-year tenure, the university added ten new academic programs-undergraduate programs such as fire science, forensic science, management information systems, and generic nursing as well as master's programs in criminal justice and teaching. Full online baccalaureate programs in criminal justice, psychology, and sociology and a full online master's program in criminal justice have also been added, and FSU's distance-education enrollments catapulted it to third in the 16-institution system. Dr. Bryan mandated that all programs eligible for specialized accreditation pursue such stamps of approval. Accreditations were also garnered from the Council on Social Work Education for the master of social work program, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business for business and accounting programs, and the Council on Collegiate Nursing Education for the nursing program. The Bryan Administration, which ended on July 23, 2007, also established the Cross Creek Early College High School and Fire Station #14.

Dr. Lloyd V. Hackley was appointed Interim Chancellor by UNC President Erskine Bowles and assumed the position on July 23, 2007. Hackley had previously served as Interim Chancellor at North Carolina A&T State University from June 2006 to July 2007 following his tenure as president of the North Carolina Community College System. Prior to his first appointment as FSU Chancellor, Dr. Hackley served as Chancellor and a tenured professor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Vice President of the UNC system, Chair of the Arkansas Civil Rights Commission, and Chair of the President's Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges   and Universities. Dr. Hackley was also a faculty member in the Government Executive Institute at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of business.

At present, Dr. Hackley serves as Chancellor Emeritus of Fayetteville State University, Chair of the NC Methodist Home for Children, and Chairman Emeritus of the National CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition. Since January, 1997, he has taught in or conducted personally more than 3200 seminars, workshops and lectures     in ethics and character development throughout America and overseas, for children, parents, teachers, coaches, and other persons who work with children, as well as for businesses, universities, various governmental agencies and other youth-serving organizations.

Dr. James A. Anderson who had previously served as a professor of psychology, vice provost and vice president at the University of Albany in New York was elected the eleventh Chief Executive Officer of Fayetteville State University by the University Of North Carolina Board of Governors to succeed Lloyd Hackley. On June 9, 2008, Dr. Anderson assumed his duties as chancellor and remains a driving force for academic excellence, innovation and committment to serving the students and community at large.  

Timeline and Brief Highlights of Fayetteville State University

1867 Howard School Founded by David A. Bryant, Nelson Carter, Andrew J. Chesnutt, George Grainger, Matthew Leary. Thomas Lomax, and Robert Simmons. They paid $136.00 for two lots on Gillespie Street.  Deed registered on November 29, 1867 by Robert Simmons to the Howard School.
1867 Robert Harris became the school's first Principal
1868 Howard School constructed by Freedman's Bureau
1872 Charles Chesnutt became a pupil-teacher at the Howard School
1877 Re-named North Carolina's State Colored Normal School with Robert Harris as Principal and Charles Chesnutt as Assistant Principal. (After UNC-Chapel Hill, it is the second oldest State supported school in North Carolina)
1880 Charles W. Chesnutt became Principal
1883 Charles Chesnutt resigned as Principal
1883 Dr. Ezekiel Ezra (E. E.) Smith became Principal
1888 George H. Williams became Principal
1895 Dr. E. E. Smith returned as Principal until 1899
1898 Reverend Leonard (Robert) E. Fairley became Acting Principal
1902 School moved to Ashley Heights
1908 The school moved again to its present site on Murchison Road
1927 High school was discontinued and the title of Principal was changed to President and Vice Principal to Dean
1933 Dr. E. E. Smith retired as President
1933 Dr. J. Ward Seabrook was elected President
1939 Name changed to Fayetteville State Teachers College and it became a four-year institution granting a B.S. degree in Elementary Education, accredited by the state and region
1947 Accredited by SACS
1954 Member of AACTE
1956 Dr. J. Ward Seabrook retires
1956 Dr. Rudolph Jones elected President
1963 School is renamed Fayetteville State College
1969 Dr. Rudolph Jones retires as President
1969 Dr. Charles "A" Lyons, Jr. becomes President
1969 School's named is changed to Fayetteville State University and designed a regional university
1972 Fayetteville State University was made a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina and a Comprehensive Level I Institution, offering Master's Degrees. Dr. Charles "A" Lyons, Jr., President, becomes the first Chancellor of the University.
1973 Offers Associate of Arts degrees at Fort Bragg
1976 NCATE Accreditation
1987 Dr. Charles "A" Lyons, Jr. retires as Chancellor
1988 Dr. Lloyd V. Hackley is named the eight Chief Executive Officer of Fayetteville State University
1994 Dr. Lloyd V. Hackley leaves Fayetteville State University and becomes President of the North Carolina Community College System
1994 First doctoral program - Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
1995 Dr. Donna J. Benson, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs of The University of North Carolina serves as Interim Chancellor
1995 Dr. Willis B. McLeod becomes the first alumnus to serve as Chancellor - November 15, 1995
1998 NLN Accreditation for Nursing Program
2001 CCNE Accreditation for Nursing Program
2002 From 2002 through 2003, FSU wins 14 CIAA Championships
2003 Dr. Willis B. McLeod resigns as Chancellor on June 30, 2003
2003 Dr. T. J. (Thelma Jane) Bryan elected the tenth Chancellor and assumes her duties on July 1, 2003
2005 Generic nursing program accredited by CCNE
2006 Master of social work program accredited by CSWE
2007 Business and accounting programs accredited by AACSB
2007 Dr. T. J. Bryan resigned as Chancellor on July 23, 2007
2007 Dr. Lloyd V. Hackley is named Interim Chancellor by UNC President Erskine Bowles and starts on July 23, 2007
2008 Dr. James A. Anderson elected the university's eleventh chief executive officer and assumes office on June 9, 2008

A Constituent Institution of The University of North Carolina