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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Appalachian State University

by James I. Martin Sr., 2006

See also: University of North Carolina System

Ritter, William. 2007. "ASU Library, it's massive!"Appalachian State University had its origins as Watauga Academy, which, under the leadership of Dauphin Disco Dougherty and Blanford Barnard Dougherty, opened in Boone in September 1899. Blanford Dougherty, a Watauga County native with an undergraduate degree from Carson Newman College in Tennessee and a degree in philosophy from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, served as principal of the academy and assumed the title of president when the institution changed its name to Appalachian Training School for Teachers.

In spite of initial opposition from the North Carolina educational establishment and General Assembly, Appalachian Training School came under public control in 1903, with the town of Boone beating out Blowing Rock, Globe, Montezuma, and Valle Crucis for the campus. Among the school's early benefactors was Greensboro textile magnate Moses Cone. In 1921 the Training School implemented a two-year curriculum; four years later, in 1925, Appalachian Training School became Appalachian State Normal School. In 1929 the name again changed, this time to Appalachian State Teachers College, and the school began to offer Bachelor of Science degrees in elementary education plus physical education, mathematics, and science on the secondary level.

By 1946 Appalachian State was offering majors in business education, English, French, history, home economics, library science, and music. In 1948 the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education granted Appalachian the distinction of being the first southern state teachers college to award graduate degrees. On 1 July 1967, Appalachian State Teachers College became Appalachian State University, and in 1972 the school became part of the consolidated University of North Carolina System.

As a public university located in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina, Appalachian State has historically possessed a commitment to its region. The university is one of several founding members of the Appalachian Consortium, which seeks to promote the culture of the Southern Highlands. The school also sponsors the Appalachian Summer Festival during July of each year; the North Carolina Symphony is one of a number of ensembles that perform at this event. Other programs include the Appalachian-Foothills Regional Service Center of the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center; the Appalachian Mathematics and Science Education Center, which offers resources to mathematics and science teachers throughout North Carolina; the Appalachian Regional Bureau of Government, which serves as a resource and offers courses on local government and law enforcement issues; the Center for Appalachian Studies, which offers collegiate programs in the field and publishes the Appalachian Journal; and the National Center for Developmental Education, which deals with the needs of academically challenged students.

By the early 2000s Appalachian State's campus comprised approximately 80 buildings on 250 acres, with about 12,000 students (86 percent of whom are from North Carolina) enrolled. The university has approximately 580 full-time and 173 part-time faculty members (88 percent of whom hold doctorates or terminal degrees-the highest percentage in the University of North Carolina System). Students pursue 190 majors in 17 different degree programs, including a doctorate in education. Appalachian State University is a member of the Southern Conference; the school's mascot is the Mountaineer, and 19 varsity sports are offered.


William R. Dunlap and others, Remembrances: Watauga Academy, Appalachian Training School, Appalachian State Normal School, Appalachian State Teachers College, and Appalachian State University (1975).

Richard D. Howe, ed., Leaders of the Appalachian Alumni Family (1986).

Ruby J. Lanier, Blanford Barnard Dougherty: Mountain Educator (1974).

Additional resources:

Appalachian State University:

Appalachian State University Yearbooks:

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Ritter, William. 2007. "ASU Library, it's massive!" Online at Accessed 10/29/2012.

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