Officially known as Southern University and A&M College, the institution is part of the only historically black Land Grant university system in the United States. Fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, it offers four-year, graduate, professional, and doctoral-degree programs.
The comprehensive institution is located on 512 acres overlooking the Mississippi River in the northern section of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and includes Lake Kernan, the campus centerpiece. An experimental station is situated on an additional 372-acre site, five miles north of the campus.
Southern University was chartered by the General Assembly of the State of Louisiana, in 1880. Initially located in New Orleans, the institution opened its doors on March 7, 1881, with 12 students. Among the original locations of the early campus in New Orleans, Louisiana, was the former Israel Sinai Temple Synagogue on Caliope Street, between St. Charles and Camp streets.
In 1890, Southern University became a land grant school. The school was relocated to its current site in Baton Rouge in 1914, owing to the institution's continuing growth and lack of land for expansion.
The university includes the following colleges: Arts and Humanities, Business, Education, Engineering, Sciences; Agricultural, Family, and Consumer Sciences; and the Graduate School. Currently, it offers three associate's, 40 bachelor's, 19 master's, and two doctoral degrees. The university enrolls an average of 9,000 students a year.
The John B. Cade Library, a partial depository for Louisiana and U.S. Government documents, houses more than a million volumes. The holdings include the Camille Shade African-American Collection, archives, music, art, and architecture.
The Smith-Brown Memorial Union, a 66,200-square-foot multipurpose building known on campus as the “living room," is a major center for extracurricular activities.
Another wing, called the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, provides programs that enable undergraduate and graduate students to understand major social, political, and economic developments in society.
The university also is known for its sports activities. It competes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in such sports as football, baseball, men's and women's basketball, and women's volleyball.