Skip to main content

About AU


Methodist bishop John Fletcher Hurst buys some 90 acres of farmland on which to build a nonsectarian national university.

The university incorporates as The American University under laws of the District of Columbia. Bishop Hurst is elected chancellor.

AU is chartered by Act of Congress.

Bishop Hurst breaks ground for College of History (Hurst Hall).

McKinley Building cornerstone is laid by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Bishop Charles Cardwell McCabe becomes AU’s second chancellor.

Franklin E. Hamilton becomes AU’s third chancellor.

First class is admitted (28 students, including 4 women).

First class graduates.
Bishop John W. Hamilton, Franklin Hamilton’s brother, becomes AU’s fourth chancellor.

AU’s board offers use of campus and facilities for war effort.
Campus becomes Camp AU and Camp Leach.

Downtown graduate schools open on F Street, N.W.

Lucius C. Clark becomes AU’s fifth chancellor.

Chancellor’s House (President’s Office Building) is constructed.

College of Liberal Arts is established; 75 students enroll.

First women’s dormitory opens (Mary Graydon Center, originally known as the Women's Residence Hall).

AU organizes intercollegiate football team.

AU organizes intercollegiate women’s and men’s basketball teams.

Student newspaper, the American Eagle, is first published.

Clendenen opens (gym, theatre, assembly hall).

Battelle Library opens.

First yearbook, the Aucola, is published.

The Alumni Association is formed.

First undergraduate class of the College of Liberal Arts graduates.

First journalism student graduates.

First men’s dormitory opens (Hamilton House).

Joseph M. M. Gray becomes sixth chancellor.

School of Public Affairs is organized.

Board of Trustees votes to admit black students, making AU one of the first universities in a segregated city to do so.

Paul Douglass becomes AU’s seventh leader; title changes from chancellor to president.

First university flag is introduced; featuring the Lodestar, it is designed by art department chair Charles Watkins.

AU celebrates 50th anniversary.

AU acquires World War II WAVE barracks (Leonard Learning Center) from the United States War Department; building is later renamed Cassell Center.

Radio station WAMC (WVAU-AM) is established.

Washington College of Law merges with AU.

Hurst Robins Anderson becomes AU’s eighth president.

Radio and television building opens.

AU’s new School of Business Administration, the first in the area, moves into McKinley.

Yearbook is renamed the Talon.

The first Tompkins addition to Battelle is completed. School of Government and Public Administration is established.

School of International Service opens in its new building.

The Center for Technology and Administration is established.

Asbury Building is completed.

Watkins Art Building opens.

First University Senate convenes.

John Sherman Myers Law Building and second Tompkins addition to Battelle are completed.

Kay Spiritual Life Center opens.

Lucy Webb Hayes School of Nursing and College of Continuing Education are established.

Kreeger Music Building opens.

Beeghly Chemistry Building opens.

New Lecture Hall opens.

George H. Williams becomes AU’s ninth president.

Kennedy Political Union (KPU), a student-run lecture series, is established.

Catherine H. Sweeney donates a house on Nebraska Avenue for the president’s residence.

School of Government and Public Administration moves into the new Ward Circle Building.

Downtown center closes.

College of Public and International Affairs is established.

Eagles’ basketball team is invited to National Invitational Tournament.

School of Education is established.

Commuter plane hits WAMU radio tower and crashes into the backyard of AU president Williams’s residence on Nebraska Avenue.

Joseph Sisco becomes AU’s 10th president.

Cooperative education program begins.

American magazine is first published.

Jack and Dorothy Bender Library opens.

School of Business Administration is renamed Kogod College of Business Administration.

College of Public Affairs is renamed College of Public and International Affairs.

Richard E. Berendzen becomes AU’s 11th president.

AU is selected as a host institution for Humphrey Fellows.

New official university seal is adopted.

New university logo is adopted.

Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies establishes biannual Lobbying Institute.

Department of Communication becomes School of Communication under the College of Arts and Sciences.

AU’s flag is redesigned.

Clendenen is razed.

School of Communication establishes American Forum.

Abbey Joel Butler Pavilion opens.

AU purchases Immaculata School on Tenley Circle.

Bender Arena opens.

College of Public and International Affairs is dissolved; School of Government and Public Administration is renamed School of Public Affairs.

School of International Service becomes independent.

Joseph Duffey becomes 12th president.

Eric A. Friedheim Quadrangle is dedicated.

School of Communication becomes independent.

Benjamin Ladner becomes AU’s 13th president.

Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) program is established.

AU’s International Institute for Health Promotion hosts first annual Global Meeting.

Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) is established.

Ward Building classrooms renovated to feature the latest technology, including multimedia ports and video projectors.

Experimental College is established.

Kogod College of Business Administration is renamed Kogod School of Business; it moves into its new home in the former Myers-Hutchins Building.

AU links with Peace Corps to offer new master’s degree.

Five-year international management agreement signed with American University of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates).

AU leaves the Colonial Athletic Association and joins the Patriot League.

AU receives Easter Island statue (moai) as a gift from the Embassy of Chile.

The Board of Trustees adopts President Ladner’s 15-point plan: “Ideas in Action, Action into Service.”

WAMU celebrates the station’s 40th anniversary.

AU Athletics snags two Patriot League Championships and automatic berths in the NCAA tournaments for men’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

The Board of Trustees adopts the University Wage Policy.

AU creates Emergency Management Procedures Manual.

Battelle Building is renovated and becomes the new home of the College of Arts and Sciences.

World Capitals program celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Mary Graydon Center is renovated and now includes the Cyber Café.

WAMU 88.5 FM wins a 2002 D.C. Mayor’s Arts Award.

Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre opens.

The Katzen Arts Center project begins.

Bender Court is dedicated to Stafford H. "Pop" Cassell.

School of International Service celebrates the 45th anniversary of its founding.

AnewAU capital campaign launches, with goal of raising $200 million to improve facilities, academic programs, and infrastructure.

Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s give AU “A” ratings for financial health.

AU becomes First T-Mobile HotSpot Campus.

Jack I. and Dorothy G. Bender Library and Learning Resources Center celebrates its 25th anniversary.

WAMU 88.5 FM receives a $250,000 bequest; largest gift in the station’s history.

Talk show host Diane Rehm celebrates 25 years at WAMU 88.5.

AU Athletics teams win six Patriot League championships.

Dedication of AU Arboretum.

AU administration helps to open ABTI-American University of Nigeria.

Washington College of Law dedicates Pence Law Library in honor of Robert F. Pence, WCL/JD ’71, and Susan Pence.

The Abroad at AU program is launched.

University College, an integrated academic and living experience for freshmen, begins.

The Katzen Arts Center, housing AU’s visual and performing arts programs, opens.

Kay Spiritual Life Center celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Kogod School of Business celebrates 50 years of business education in the nation’s capital.

Cornelius Kerwin, SPA/BA ’71, becomes interim president.

AU has a Truman scholar, Marshall scholar, seven Fulbright scholars, and two Rhodes finalists; 34 AU students are named Presidential Management Fellows, leading the nation for the second year in a row.

More than 15,000 admissions applications are received—an all-time high.

The AU Museum, housed in the Katzen Arts Center, hosts 18,000 visitors its first year.

AU is designated a 2006 Truman Foundation Honor Institution, along with Emory University and MIT, for its support of students interested in public service careers.

AU Abroad sites are expanded to include enclave and summer immersion programs.

AU advises and assists ABTI/American University of Nigeria on acceptance of its first class of students.

Cornelius Kerwin, SPA/BA ’71, becomes AU’s 14th president.

Construction on an expansion to the Kogod building begins.

AU assists the Brookings International Volunteer Initiative in a project designed to double the number of U.S. volunteers working abroad.

The AnewAU capital campaign ends the 06–07 fiscal year at $140 million toward the $200 million goal.

Athletics director Keith Gill joins AU after stints at the University of Oklahoma and the NCAA.

The endowment reaches $378 million.

AU joins 300 universities worldwide in signing the Talloires Declaration, a pledge to promote environmental sustainability in its operations, policies, and courses.

AU begins the first phase of its Web redesign project.

WAMU 88.5 has more than 575,900 listeners and is the leading public radio station for NPR news and information in the local area.

SIS celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Construction begins on new SIS building.

Board of Trustees approves new strategic plan, “American University and the Next Decade: Leadership for a Changing World."

Men's Basketball Team invited to first round of NCAA Tournament for the first time.

New Web 2.0 site is launched.

Kogod Building expansion is completed.

SPA celebrates its 75th anniversary.

SIS building opens.  It is AU's first LEED-Gold Certified building.

WONK Campaign initiated.

New Welcome Center opens.


April 2012