One hundred and fifty years ago, Morgan State University was founded as the Centenary Biblical Institute—named in honor of the centennial of Methodism in America—by African-American and white leaders of the Methodist Episcopal Church, for the purpose of training young men, especially African-American, for the Methodist ministry. It held its first class for nine male students in the lecture hall of the Sharp Street Methodist Episcopal Church on April 30, 1867; it admitted its first female students in 1874.
Who could have imagined that that modest, but extraordinarily visionary, effort would develop over the years into one of the nation’s premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities of today with a student body of men and women, national and international, now numbering over 7,700, and a campus of 143 acres and more than 50 structures! And who would have thought that a modest religious training school would evolve into a Carnegie-classified doctoral research university and one of only four public doctoral research universities in Maryland; that it would become Maryland’s designated public urban university; and that it would now rank among the top 100 producers of minority degrees in the nation and as a leading producer of African-American, locally and nationally, in a broad variety of fields!
That is the story of this institution’s remarkable journey from the Centenary Biblical Institute in 1867, to Morgan College in 1890, to Morgan State College in 1939, and to Morgan State University in 1975.
From December 2016 to December 2017, Morgan State University—having graduated its 50,000th student at its December 2016 Commencement Exercises and having been declared a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2016—will hold its Sesquicentennial Celebration. Throughout the year, we will reflect on our evolving purpose and trace our exceptional progress and our record of achievement over the last century-and-a-half, and we will examine and demonstrate our potential and our promise to contribute significantly to growing the future and producing the next generation of leaders of the world.
I am very pleased to welcome you to the Sesquicentennial Celebration of Morgan State University and to invite you to join us as we take this journey down “memory lane” and prepare for continued success during the next 150 years.