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Jacksonville State University
Former names
Jacksonville State Normal School (1883–1930)
Jacksonville State Teachers College (1930–1957)
Jacksonville State College (1957–1966)
MottoThe friendliest campus in the South.
TypePublic university
Established1883; 141 years ago (1883)
Endowment$57 million (2023)[1]
PresidentDon C. Killingsworth, Jr.[2]
ProvostChristie Shelton
Academic staff
350 Full-time and 163 Part-time (Fall 2022)[3]
Students9,540 (Fall 2022)[3]
Undergraduates8,067 (Fall 2022)[3]
Postgraduates1,473 (Fall 2022)[3]
Location, ,
United States

33°49′19″N 85°45′58″W / 33.822°N 85.766°W / 33.822; -85.766
CampusSuburban (small city)
ColorsRed and White[4]
Sporting affiliations

Jacksonville State University is a public university in Jacksonville, Alabama. Founded in 1883, Jacksonville State offers programs of study in six academic schools leading to bachelor's, master's, education specialist, and doctorate degrees in addition to certificate programs and continuing education opportunities.

The university was founded as Jacksonville State Normal School, and in 1930, the name changed to Jacksonville State Teachers College, and again in 1957, to Jacksonville State College. The university began operating under its current name in 1966.

JSU currently has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students, with nearly 500 faculty members (more than 300 of whom are full-time). It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).


President James Gazaway Ryals, Jr., c. 1883
President James Gazaway Ryals, Jr., c. 1883
Presidents of Jacksonville historical marker
Presidents of Jacksonville historical marker

Jacksonville State Normal School

The university was founded as Jacksonville State Normal School, a "class A" normal school, it was chartered by the state of Alabama and Gov. Edward A. O'Neal on February 22, 1883, in order to prepare teachers for work in public school.[5] It was established within campus of the former Calhoun College in Jacksonville.[5][6] The first board of directors for the normal school included S. K. McSpadden, John M. Caldwell, James Crook, W. P. Howell, William M. Hames, D. A. Alderholt, H.L. Stevenson, W. J. Alexander, J. Y. Nisbet, L. W. Grant, and John D. Hammond, who served as the state superintendent of education.[5]

The board of directors nominated James G. Ryals Jr. as the school's first president when it opened in the fall of 1883, and when Ryals died unexpectedly of pneumonia in 1885, faculty member Joseph Harris Chappell held the presidency for a year.[7] Chappell departed for Milledgeville, Georgia where he served as the first president of a new normal school that eventually became Georgia College & State University.[8] The first graduating class of Jacksonville State Normal School was in 1886.[5] It was one of the first educational institutions in Alabama to have a library on campus.[5]

Name changes

In 1930, the name changed to Jacksonville State Teachers College. In 1957, the school name changed once again, to Jacksonville State College after the creation of the first graduate program, a master's degree in elementary education.[7] In August 1966, the Alabama State Board of Education elevated the college to university status, which prompted a school name change to Jacksonville State University.[7]

2018 tornado

On the evening of March 19, 2018, an EF3 tornado struck the campus, causing minor to severe damage to every building.[9] It was the first day of spring break for both the university and the Jacksonville City School System.

Classes resumed at the university on April 9, 2018, and the spring commencement ceremony was held on May 4, 2018, as scheduled, but moved to JSU Stadium from Pete Mathews Coliseum (which was also closed due to tornado damage).[10] There were four injuries among city residents and no fatalities.[11] More than $100 million in property damage was inflicted on the university and on April 27, 2018, President Donald Trump declared the event a federal disaster.[12] The university continued its summer semester as planned, and President John Beehler stated all subsequent semesters will continue as normal.[13]


Administration and organization

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Since 2019, Jacksonville State is administered by President Don Killlingsworth, and the Jacksonville State Board of Trustees. Members of the board are appointed by the Governor of Alabama to set the policies of the university and select senior management personnel. Under the doctrine of collective responsibility, the entire board is liable for the financial and other consequences of the organization's activities. The President oversees his or her Presidential Cabinet, composed of the university's vice presidents and other senior personnel.

Academic organization

Wallace Hall, home to the JSU nursing program.

Through Jacksonville State's six academic colleges, the university offers career-centered programs where students can prepare for the workforce.

Main and satellite campuses

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Main campus

The JSU main campus has a 459-acre (1.9 km2) campus with 59 buildings in the Appalachian foothills of northeast Alabama. With this campus being the flagship campus for Jacksonville State, it offers large educational facilities, university housing and residence, on-campus dining, student centers, Greek housing, athletic facilities, student health and wellness facilities, administration offices, study centers, an international housing program, and an on-campus bookstore. The majority of students who study at Jacksonville State attend courses here.

Little River Canyon Center campus

The Little River Canyon Center campus opened to the public in 2009, and is a Jacksonville State University building located in Fort Payne, Alabama that adjoins the Little River Canyon National Preserve. A portion is leased to the National Park Service and the staff of the Little River Canyon National Preserve with a facility that features a Grand Hall, HD movie theater, gift shop, natural history library, exhibits, classrooms, back deck, outdoor amphitheater and trails for both education and adventure.[21]

McClellan campus

The Jacksonville State University Higher Education Consortium was established in 2003, and it houses two state schools: Jacksonville State University–McClellan Center, and Gadsden State Community College–McClellan Campus. Since 2005, the McClellan Center Building 3181 has been home to the Institute of Emergency Preparedness, In-Service, and the Northeast Alabama Police Academy. GSCC houses the traditional college students. Their EMS and 911 programs, in addition to the core classes of English, math, etc., are also housed in the building.


The university recorded is highest all-time enrollment in Fall 2023 with an overall headcount of 9,672 students.[22]

Campus events

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On January 1, 2012, the university's marching band and dance team, The Southerners and the Marching Ballerinas,[23] led the New Year's Day Parade in London, England, which also kicked off the year-long celebration of both Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 London Summer Olympics.[24] The invitation to lead the parade came in September 2010, just as the Southerners learned that they had been awarded the nationally recognized George Washington Honor Medal for their patriotic 2009 show, "Of Thee I Sing."

In February 2006, Jacksonville State University was named the "winner" of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Speech Code of the Month.[25] At the time, FIRE called the University Code of Conduct "illegally overbroad." They considered the code to be in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution which protects offensive speech. The policy has since been changed.


Main article: Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Jacksonville State's athletics teams are nicknamed the Gamecocks. Jax State is a member of the Conference USA in Division I FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) in football, formerly I-A, of the NCAA. The university's football team gained national attention in 2001 when junior (3rd-year) placekicker Ashley Martin became the first female football player to score a point in a Division I game tallying 3 points against Cumberland University.

On July 1, 2021, Jax State moved to the ASUN Conference, a league in which it had been a member from 1995 to 2003. The ASUN does not currently sponsor football, but has announced plans to launch a football league in the near future.[26] Until that time, Jax State was a de facto associate member of the Western Athletic Conference, competing in a football partnership between the two leagues officially branded as the ASUN–WAC Challenge.[27]

The school fields varsity teams in 14 sports: baseball, men's and women's basketball, cross country, football, men's and women's golf, rifle, women's soccer, softball, men's and women's tennis, women's track and field, and volleyball. The football team plays in 25,000-seat Burgess-Snow Field. The men's and women's basketball and volleyball teams play in Pete Mathews Coliseum. Prior to the 1993–94 academic year, Jacksonville State competed in NCAA Division II athletics, winning national championships in men's basketball (1985), baseball (1990 and 1991), football (1992) and gymnastics (1984 and 1985).


Jacksonville State University sponsors one co-ed rifle team, six men's, and ten women's teams in NCAA sanctioned sports:[28]


Main article: Jacksonville State Gamecocks football

Burgess–Snow Field at JSU Stadium

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Jacksonville State University. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) as a member of Conference USA. Jacksonville State's first football team was fielded in 1904, nicknamed at the time as the "Eagle Owls." The team plays its home games at the 24,000 seat Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium in Jacksonville, Alabama. The Gamecocks hire former Division I football coach Rich "RichRod" Rodriguez for the 2022 season. Rodriguez was previously head coach at football power Michigan (2008–10), as well as West Virginia (2001–07) and Arizona (2012–17). His luster has dulled in recent years, and he seeks his return to the head coaching circle here at Jax State. He comes from Louisiana Monroe, where he served as the offensive coordinator under head coach Terry Bowden. "RichRod" replaces former Gamecocks head coach John Grass, who resigned after the 2021 season. Glass had a 72–26 record during his tenure as head coach which included 6 Ohio Valley Conference championships. In 2021, the Gamecocks upset the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee, Florida on a 59-yard touchdown pass at the end of the game.[29]


Main article: Jacksonville State Gamecocks baseball

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks baseball team is a varsity intercollegiate athletic team of Jacksonville State University. The team is a member of Conference USA, which is part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I.


Main article: Jacksonville State Gamecocks men's basketball

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks men's basketball team is the men's basketball team that represents Jacksonville State University. The school's team currently competes in Conference USA. Their head coach is Ray Harper.

Women's basketball

Main article: Jacksonville State Gamecocks women's basketball

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks women's basketball team is the women's basketball team that represents Jacksonville State University. The team currently competes in Conference USA.


Main article: Jacksonville State Gamecocks softball

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks softball team represents Jacksonville State University in NCAA Division I college softball. The team participates in the Conference USA.

The Marching Southerners

Main article: Marching Southerners

Jacksonville State University's marching band, The Marching Southerners, was founded in 1956 by John Finley. He also conceived the band's precision dance line, The Marching Ballerinas.[30] David L. Walters, for whom JSU's music department is named, served as band director from 1961 to 1991 and is credited with bringing the Marching Southerners to national prominence.[31] The Marching Southerners feature the Marching Ballerinas and the famous 20J's, named for the C.G. Conn 20J tuba that the Southerners proudly feature in its halftime shows.[32] The Southerners were the 2021 recipients of the Sudler Trophy, the highest award for collegiate marching bands.

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[33] Total
White 67% 67
Black 22% 22
Other[a] 8% 8
Foreign national 2% 2
Asian 1% 1
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 51% 51
Affluent[c] 49% 49

Greek life

Over ten percent of the undergraduate student body is said to be involved in Greek life. There are approximately 17 social and 22 other Greek-letter organizations.

A total of 16 students were arrested in 2013 in connection with allegations of hazing; news reports stated that Alpha Phi Alpha had been involved.[34] In 2015, JSU's chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon was closed down following another set of hazing allegations.[35]

Notable alumni

Main article: List of Jacksonville State University people


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


  1. ^ "JSU Foundation Board". Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  2. ^ "Don Killingsworth Named President of Jacksonville State University". JSU News. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "College Navigator - Jacksonville State University".
  4. ^ Jacksonville State University Style Guide & Identification Standards Manual (PDF). Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Owen, Thomas McAdory (1921). History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. S. J. Clarke publishing Company. pp. 805–806.
  6. ^ O'Dell, Kimberly (September 1998). Calhoun County. Arcadia Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-7385-8998-5.
  7. ^ a b c d "Jacksonville State University (JSU)". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved March 24, 2023.
  8. ^ "J. Harris Chappell, President of State Normal School 1885-86". Historical Image Collection. January 1885.
  9. ^ "We are JSU Strong | Jacksonville State University". Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  10. ^ "Jacksonville State University | Academic Options for Completing the Spring Semester". Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  11. ^ Service, US Department of Commerce, NOAA, National Weather. "Jacksonville Tornado - March 19, 2018". Retrieved May 15, 2018.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Approves Alabama Disaster Declaration". April 27, 2018. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  13. ^ "Jacksonville State University | President Beehler Welcomes Students and Employees Back to Campus". Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  14. ^ "J. Harris Chappell, President of State Normal School 1885-86". Historical Image Collection. January 1885.
  15. ^ Opal R. Lovett (January 1, 1950). "Houston Cole, 1950s President of Jacksonville State College 6". Historical Image Collection.
  16. ^ Savage, Lisa (January 6, 2016). "Fans give Gamecocks grand send-off". Gadsden Times. Retrieved March 24, 2023.
  17. ^ "Former JSU president Theron Montgomery dies". Gadsden Times. February 10, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2023.
  18. ^ Edwards, Bill (March 5, 2012). "Harold McGee had a vision for JSU". The Anniston Star. Retrieved March 24, 2023.
  19. ^ Thornton, William (October 22, 2019). "JSU's John Beehler out as president". al. Retrieved March 24, 2023.
  20. ^ Stroud, Laurie (May 28, 2021). "JSU's First Family Puts God First". Birmingham Christian Family Magazine. Retrieved March 24, 2023.
  21. ^ "Little River Canyon Center – Environmental Policy and Information Center (EPIC) – Jacksonville State University". Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  22. ^ "University Breaks Historic Enrollment Records - JSU News".
  23. ^ "Welcome – JSU Marching Southerners". Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  24. ^ "Southerners in London". Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  25. ^ Harris, Samantha. "Speech Code of the Month: Jacksonville State University". FIRE. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  26. ^ "ASUN Conference Announces Three New Institutions; Adds Football as 20th Sport" (Press release). ASUN Conference. January 29, 2021. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  27. ^ "ASUN, WAC Conferences Announce Football Partnership for 2021" (Press release). ASUN Conference. February 23, 2021. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  28. ^ "2015 Fan Day – August 29". Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  29. ^ "WATCH: Jacksonville State stuns Florida State with 59-yard walk-off TD, plants flag at midfield in epic upset". CBS Sports. September 12, 2021. Retrieved September 12, 2021.
  30. ^, Seth Boster, Star Staff Writer (August 13, 2015). "Southerners founder remembered as Jacksonville State starts band camp". The Anniston Star.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^, Seth Boster, Star Staff Writer (December 30, 2015). "David Walters, longtime leader of JSU bands, dies at 92". The Anniston Star.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  32. ^ "20Js". JSU Marching Southerners. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
  33. ^ "College Scorecard: Jacksonville State University". United States Department of Education. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  34. ^ "2 more JSU students arrested in hazing investigation". WBRC News. May 3, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  35. ^ "JSU fraternity's charter revoked over hazing allegation". AL.COM. October 14, 2015.