History of Armstrong

Armstrong State University was founded in 1935 with 175 students as Armstrong Junior College to enhance higher educational opportunities in the community. The foundation of the institution, then as now, was a firm commitment to the ideals of a liberal education.

The city-supported college was housed in the historic Armstrong House, a gift to the city from the family of George F. Armstrong. Over the years, the college occupied six additional buildings downtown near Forsyth Park and Monterey Square. In 1959, as Armstrong College of Savannah, it became a two-year unit of the University System of Georgia. In 1964, the Board of Regents conferred four-year status on Armstrong State College.

In January 1966, the college moved to its present site, a gift from Donald Livingston and the Mills B. Lane Foundation. Eight buildings were constructed on the campus' original 250 acres. Additional buildings joined the original structures as Armstrong added professional and graduate programs. In 1993, work began on transforming the grounds into an arboretum.

In 1996, the institution gained state university status and a new name: Armstrong Atlantic State University. Armstrong today serves more than 7,000 students of all ages. Eighty-six percent come from across Georgia, 12 percent come from other states, and 2 percent come from 84 other nations.

Armstrong in the Community

Since its inception as a city-owned junior college, Armstrong has been a strong partner with its neighbors. Armstrong graduates have taught generations of school children, cared for thousands of patients and helped to keep the community safe. In addition, the university has created a wide variety of courses and degrees to meet the ever-changing needs of business and industry.

From the moment the lights went up on the first Masquers' theatrical production, the college has enriched the life of the community through hundreds of cultural offerings from plays and concerts to art gallery exhibits and lectures. The Pirates' athletic teams bring excitement and an impressive string of national championships.

A culture of leadership and community service sends Armstrong students into surrounding localities as volunteers in a variety of civic activities from fundraising to delivering vital assistance to those who need it most.

Armstrong Through the Years


1935 The Aldermen of the City of Savannah create Armstrong Junior College. The college is housed downtown in a mansion donated to the city by Lucy Camp Armstrong Moltz and Lucy Armstrong Johnson.
1935 Ernest A. Lowe is appointed the first president, and classes begin in September with 175 students.
1937 Stacy Keach, a senior, formed the college's Savannah Playhouse, the forerunner to the Masquers.


1940 Armstrong was first accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in a report that identified the school as the best junior college accredited that year.
1941 J. Thomas Askew is appointed the second president.
1944 Foreman M. Hawes is appointed the third president.


1959 Armstrong College of Savannah becomes a two-year unit of the University System of Georgia.


1962 The Mills B. Lane Foundation and Donald Livingston donate a new campus site of 250 acres on the south side of Savannah.
1964 The Board of Regents confers four-year college status upon Armstrong. B.A., B.S., and B.B.A. degrees are offered.
1964 Henry L. Ashmore is appointed the fourth president.
1965 The new eight-building campus is completed.
1968 The first baccalaureate degrees are awarded.
1968 Armstrong State College receives notice of accreditation as a senior institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


1971 The Board of Regents authorizes Armstrong and Savannah State to offer joint graduate programs leading to the M.B.A. and the M.S. in education.
1978 The Board of Regents designates Armstrong State College as a Regional Health Professions Education Center.


1984 Robert A. Burnett is appointed the fifth president.
1985 Armstrong celebrates its fiftieth anniversary on May 27.
1986 The Regional Criminal Justice Training Center is established on the Armstrong campus.
1986 The Board of Regents approves the offering of selected baccalaureate degrees by Armstrong State College at the Brunswick Center.


1995 The sixtieth anniversary is celebrated with a historic marker at Armstrong House, presidential artwork, inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame, and dedication of the new Armstrong Sports Center.
1996 The institution gains university status and a new name: Armstrong Atlantic State University.
1997 The dedication of University Hall, an 89,000 square-foot classroom and office building and home of the Regional Criminal Justice Training Center, is held.
1998 The Shirley and Philip Solomons Eminent Scholar Chair in Economics is established.
1998 Armstrong collaborates with other university system institutions to create the Liberty Center, which offers degree programs in Liberty County.
1998 The College of Education is named Best in the State by the Georgia Association of Teacher Educators.
1999 The Georgia Tech Regional Engineering Program is established on the Armstrong campus.


2000 Thomas Z. Jones is named the sixth president.
2002 The student population exceeds 6,000.
2002 The dedication of the 126,056 square-foot Science Center is held.
2002 The university's first student residential community is dedicated.
2002 The Board of Regents approves funding for a new $23 million academic classroom building.
2003 Victor, Hawes and Solms halls are completely renovated and rededicated.
2003 The Hispanic Outreach and Leadership at Armstrong Atlantic program (HOLA) is established under a generous grant from the Goizueta Foundation.
2004 The student population exceeds 7,000.
2004 Armstrong Educational Properties, Inc. purchases 18 acres of land adjacent to the campus for development as academic support space, a Professional and Continuing Education Center, and student residences.
2005 The fourth student residential community is complete.
2006 The Peach Belt Conference gives Armstrong its inaugural Presidents' Academic Award for 2006-2007.
2006 The Armstrong Center, a conference facility for small to medium groups, is dedicated.
2006 The Student Recreation Center is opened.
2009 Both the men's and women's tennis teams win the 2009 NCAA Division II national championships for the second consecutive year.
2009 Construction begins on a new Student Union building and Windward Commons housing community.
2009 Armstrong graduates its first Doctor of Physical Therapy, awarded in conjunction with the Medical College of Georgia.
2009 Linda M. Bleicken is named the seventh president.
2009 Armstrong gains approval to offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.


2010 Armstrong marked its 75th anniversary with enrollment topping 7,500, campus celebrations, a Governor’s proclamation, city proclamation and joint resolution in the Georgia legislature, all acknowledging Armstrong’s distinguished service in higher education. Visit our 75th Anniversary website to recap the year's celebration!
2010 Dr. Linda M. Bleicken was inaugurated as seventh president on September 17, 2010, which also marked the first day of classes in our founding year, 1935.
2010 The university published From the Mansion to the University, an Armstrong history, written by emerti faculty member Janet Stone.
2010 The women's tennis team won its third straight national championship.
2010 The opening of Windward Commons, the new freshman residence hall, and the new Student Union brought record numbers of activities and students living on campus.
2011 Armstrong’s women’s soccer team made its first appearance in the NCAA final four.
2011 The women’s vollyball team were Peach Belt Regular Season Champions and participated in the NCAA championship.
2011 Armstrong’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy was ranked in the top third in the nation by US News and World Report.
2011 Windward Commons residence hall was selected by Multifamily Executive magazine as one of 10 university housing projects from around the country for its “unique style, environmental consciousness and high standard of student living.”
2011 Armstrong received a $600,000 grant from Lumina Foundation for Education and will serve as one of 12 institutions nationally to lead regional partnerships that promote Latino Success.
2012 Armstrong named a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine and opened the Military Outreach Center in June 2012.
2012 Armstrong became a tobacco-free campus in August 2012. The new policy underscores the university’s commitment to provide a healthy learning and working environment for students, faculty, and staff.
2012 Armstrong’s 100 Black Men of Savannah’s Collegiate 100 Chapter received the 100 Black Men of America Inc. 2012 Collegiate 100 Chapter of the Year. The award is based on the Armstrong Collegiate 100’s outstanding accomplishments, community service, and mentoring.
2012 Treasure Savannah day of service in spring and fall brought more than 700 volunteers to complete projects at nonprofit organizations across the city. The March event included participation in the City of Savannah’s Great American Spring Cleanup.
2012 Armstrong and Georgia Southern University forged a partnership for undergraduate engineering education. Students can complete an associate degree at Armstrong, and then transfer to Georgia Southern to complete their bachelor’s degree in engineering.
2012 Armstrong men’s and women’s soccer teams were both NCAA Division II national champions, marking the third time in university history when both teams won championships in the same season. For the first time in university history, both teams were undefeated.
2012 Armstrong’s baseball team was a Peach Belt Tournament champion and played in the NCAA Division II championship.
2013 A report released by the University System of Georgia’s Selig Center in June 2013 estimated Armstrong’s economic impact on our region at $214 million and 2,276 jobs.
2013 Last year, Armstrong athletics won the coveted NCAA Division II Peach Belt Commissioner’s Cup for the second straight year, and the teams were third overall in the Peach Belt President’s Academic Awards.
2013 Through the $1.2 million Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship grant from the National Science Foundation, Armstrong offers scholarships for aspiring science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) students. Those who receive the scholarships will complete the Bachelor of Science degree and continue their studies at Armstrong to gain a Master of Teaching degree and become K-12 STEM teachers.
2013 In partnership with the City of Hinesville, the university gained state approval to build an expanded Armstrong Liberty Center facility in downtown Hinesville. The facility is expected to welcome more students in spring 2015.
2013 Armstrong, Savannah State University, and Savannah Technical College are partnering for Latino student success via CAMINO (College Access Mentoring Information and Outreach), funded by a $600,000 grant from Lumina Foundation.
2013 The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded Armstrong’s College of Health Professions a $1.5 million grant to implement an interprofessional care model at St. Mary’s Health Center over three years. Health professions students provide hundreds of hours of care to adults and children who otherwise could not afford care.
2014 On April 16, 2014, the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents voted to allow Armstrong Atlantic State University to shorten its name to Armstrong State University. Armstrong Atlantic State University became Armstrong State University on July 1, 2014.


Armstrong Presidents

Ernest A. Lowe

J. Thomas Askew

Foreman M. Hawes

Henry L. Ashmore

Robert A. Burnett
Acting President 1982-1984
President 1984-1999

Frank A. Butler
Interim President 1999-2000

Thomas Z. Jones

Linda M. Bleicken


Campus Slideshow