Miles College
Latin: Sapientia et Pax et Amor Omnibus
Former name
Miles Memorial College (1898–1941)
Motto"Wisdom and Peace and Love for all."
TypePrivate historically black college
Religious affiliation
CME Church
Academic affiliations
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference[1]
PresidentBobbie Knight
Administrative staff
Location, ,

33°28′50″N 86°54′32″W / 33.48056°N 86.90889°W / 33.48056; -86.90889
Campus76 acres (310,000 m2)
Colors   Purple & gold[1]
NicknameGolden Bears[1]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IISIAC[1]
MascotThe Golden Bear
Miles Memorial College Historic District
Miles College is located in Alabama
Miles College
Miles College is located in the United States
Miles College
Area76 acres (31 ha)
Built1907 (1907)
ArchitectTisdale, Stone & Patton; Gilreath Construction
Architectural styleBungalow/Craftsman, Beaux Arts
NRHP reference No.93001031[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 3, 1994
Designated ARLHMarch 19, 1993[3]

Miles College is a private historically black college in Fairfield, Alabama. Founded in 1898, it is associated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME Church) and a member of the United Negro College Fund.


The college, c. 1910
The college, c. 1910

Miles College began organization efforts in 1893 and was founded in 1898 by the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (now the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church). It was chartered as Miles Memorial College, in honor of Bishop William H. Miles.[4] Bishop Miles had been born into slavery in Kentucky and was later freed (although sources disagree on the date).[5] In 1911, the Miles College awarded its first bachelor's degrees.[4]

It was originally housed in the former Booker City High School campus in Booker City, Alabama.[4] In 1907, the college moved from Booker City to its present campus in Fairfield, Alabama, roughly six miles west of downtown Birmingham.[4]

The school was able to survive the Great Depression with the help of two term college president, William Augustus Bell.[4] In 1941 the name was changed from Miles Memorial College to Miles College.[4][6]

Modern history

In January 2020, Charles Barkley, who is an Alabama native, donated $1 million to Miles College, under first female President Dr. Bobbie Knight. Barkley's gift is the biggest donation from a single person that the school has ever received. Dr. Knight said the donation will kickstart efforts to raise $100 million.[7]



Miles is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (for the awarding of baccalaureate degrees), the Alabama State Department of Education, and the Council of Social Work Education. Miles College offers 25 bachelor's degrees in the following divisions: Business and Accounting, Communications, Education, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences. Miles College is one of 41 schools in the nation with a Center of Academic Excellence under the office of the Director of National Intelligence.[9]

Miles offers 28 Bachelor's degree programs in six academic divisions to an enrollment of approximately 1,700 students and also offers an honors program for undergraduate students with exceptional academic records.


Miles College purchased the Lloyd Noland Hospital site, which more than doubled the size of the campus. The college completed the construction of a new student activity and dining center, a new welcome and admissions center, and a new 204 bed residence hall. Part of the campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]

Sloan Alumni Stadium, named after the college's 13th president, Albert J. H. Sloan II, was recently expanded to include a $1 million Environ-Turf field.

Student activities

Organizations for students include the Student Government Association, Honors Curriculum, academic clubs, religious organizations, National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations, general interest clubs, a gospel choir, and a concert choir.

Radio station

The school operated a radio station, WMWI FM 88.7. It was established in 2009 and was licensed to serve Demopolis, Alabama.[10] It went off the air in 2019 and its license was cancelled in December 2023.

Marching band

The Miles College band is known as the Purple Marching Machine (PMM). The Purple Marching Machine was established in 1996, under the direction of Prof. Arthur Means, Jr. There are nearly 200 members in the band now and it is under the direction of Willie Snipes Jr. PMM has performed at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, numerous battle of the bands, and for the Atlanta Falcons. PMM is accompanied by the Golden Stars danceline and Steaming Flags color guard.[11]


The Miles College athletics program competes in the NCAA Division II's Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). The program has men's and women's sports that include: basketball, football, volleyball, track, baseball, softball, cross country, and golf. Their mascot is the Golden Bears.[1]

Notable alumni

Notable faculty and staff

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e " >> Miles College". Retrieved February 8, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System – (#93001031)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  3. ^ "Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage as of April 7, 2023" (PDF). Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Yoo, Jiwon Amy (January 5, 2010). "Miles College (1905– )". Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  5. ^ "Miles College". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  6. ^ Bennett, Jim (June 22, 2016). "What happened to Birmingham's forgotten colleges?". al. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  7. ^ Greig, Jon (January 13, 2020). "Charles Barkley Donates $1 Million To Alabama HBCU". Blavity. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  8. ^ "Dr. Lucius Holsey Pitts, Sr". Alabama African American History. January 29, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2023 – via Bicentennial Alabama African American History Book.
  9. ^ "Fairfield's Miles College reaches new level of prestige in Birmingham". July 12, 2013.
  10. ^ "Miles radio station coming to Demopolis". April 22, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  11. ^ "Meet Alabama's 19 Collegiate Marching Bands". October 19, 2015.
  12. ^ "Thales McReynolds NBA statistics".
  13. ^ Maeroff, Gene (May 7, 1978). "Ex-Harvard Dean Quits Black College Post". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 8, 2023.
  14. ^ "Steven Whitman, social epidemiologist, 1943–2014". Chicago Tribune. July 27, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2023.

Further reading