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APSU celebrates 90th anniversary with special event and tree planting

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Austin Peay State University President Alisa White and her husband, Elliott Herzlich, commemorated the University’s 90th anniversary with a special ceremony and tree planting on Wednesday. 

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Austin Peay State University President Alisa White and her husband, Elliott Herzlich, commemorated the University’s 90th anniversary with a special ceremony and tree planting on Wednesday. 

The noon event took place on the lawn in front of the Browning Building, and it included performances by the Governors’ Own Marching Band, the APSU Chamber Singers, the University Choir, the Austin Peay Dance Team and members of the APSU Cheerleading Squad. Charlie Gentry, chief of staff for Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, and Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett each presented President White with proclamations honoring the University’s anniversary. The state also issued a proclamation for the occasion.

On April 25, 1927, Governor Austin Peay signed a bill calling for a new teachers college in Clarksville. The next day, on April 26, the bill became state law, officially creating a two-year junior college and teacher-training institution. The school—Austin Peay Normal School—was eventually named in honor of the governor, a Clarksville native who died six months after signing the legislation.

In 1943, the normal school was renamed Austin Peay State College, and in 1967, it became Austin Peay State University. The University established the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at APSU in July 1985, and that program received a major boost a few months later when country music legend Roy Acuff generously endowed a chair of excellence. In July of 1986, the University opened another specialized program—the Center of Excellence for Field Biology.

“We are now a comprehensive university, with more than 10,500 students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs,” White said. “Along the way, we’ve acquired some great traditions—from listening to spectacular performances by the Governors’ Own Marching Band at halftime to watching our students, faculty, staff and supporters Plant the Campus red each spring.”

In 2016, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the FOCUS Act, changing the governance structure of higher education in Tennessee and calling for the establishment of an institutional Board of Trustees for Austin Peay and the other five universities previously governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents. On March 30, 2017, the University’s inaugural Board of Trustees held its first meeting on the APSU campus.

 “Ninety years after it was founded, we’re entering one of the most exciting and ambitious periods in the University’s history, and we look forward to working with everyone to ensure that Austin Peay remains a source of pride for this community,” Katherine Johnson Cannata, vice chair of the APSU Board of Trustees, said.

At the end of Wednesday’s ceremony, White and alumnus Evans Harvill (’46), son of former APSU president Halbert Harvill, planted a tree on the Browning lawn. On Feb. 10, 1954, President Harvill helped plant a tree in honor of Austin Peay State College’s 25th anniversary.

Throughout April, Austin Peay has celebrated its anniversary with several APat90 events. On April 24, the University initiated a 90-hour online giving event, Govs Give, with the goal of raising $90,000 for the APSU Colleges’ Funds of Excellence. These are innovation funds that allow deans and directors in academic and student areas to provide students with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. Visit www.apsu.edu/govsgive for information on how to support this campaign.