In October of 1896, the Alabama Girls’ Industrial School opened its doors to some 150 young women from all parts of the state. They had come to participate in a great experiment, in an innovation in education for Alabama. They had come to be trained as teachers, bookkeepers, artists, musicians, dressmakers, telegraphers and milliners. In other words, at last, there was a school in Alabama whose purpose was to educate women to be self-supporting; at last, here was an opportunity to escape from the drudgery of field work, mill work, or from the ignominy of depending on a father or brother for lifelong support if there was no husband. At last, here was an opportunity for young women to expand their minds and dreams in a state, poverty-stricken by economic circumstances, that could provide little public education for its citizens.
In 1911 AGIS became Alabama Girls’ Technical Institute. The phrase “and College for Women” was added in 1919. In 1923, the school became Alabama College, State College for Women, a degree-granting institution.
Two men enrolled in January of 1956, and with 33 more arriving by September, a new era had begun for the school. In 1969, in order to reflect this changing atmosphere, the school changed its name to University of Montevallo, and its four distinct colleges (Arts and Sciences, Education, Business, and Fine Arts) were established.
Today, UM holds fast to the principles that we were founded upon and the mission that we’ve always upheld. As Alabama’s only public liberal arts university, we take pride in knowing that our curriculum is both challenging and affordable. And while we offer degree programs in more than 70 academic disciplines, our student-to-faculty ratio is a mere 16-to-1, so you’ll know that you’re getting a tailor-made education. It’s no surprise that we’re continuing to ascend the ranks of U.S. News & World Report’s list of America’s Best Colleges when it comes to overall education and lack of student loan debt.