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Longer University History
Clayton State University, where dreams are made real, is an empowering experience, an inclusive diversity, an engaged and experiential preparation and a supportive community for its 7,000+ students enrolled in degree credit programs that, in the words of the University’s mission, provide “career-oriented education with a solid liberal arts foundation.”
Clayton State University opened to 942 students on September 30, 1969 as Clayton Junior College, with Dr. Harry S. Downs as the founding president. The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia elevated the institution to baccalaureate status (as Clayton State College) with programs in business administration and nursing in 1986, to university status (as Clayton College & State University) in 1996 and approved the present name on May 18, 2005.
Following the retirement of Harry Downs in January 1994, Dr. Richard A. Skinner became the University’s second president, to be followed in 1999 by Interim President Michael F. Vollmer. Dr. Thomas K. Harden became the University’s third president in June 2000 and Dr. Thomas Hynes was initially named interim president in May 2009 before having his appointment as fourth president made permanent in February 2010.
In addition to its 40+ undergraduate programs, Clayton State’s first graduate program, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, began in August 2006. Additional graduate programs include the Master of Science in Nursing, the Master of Health Administration, a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Arts in Teaching in English and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Mathematics, the Master in Archival Studies, Master in Psychology and Master in Teacher Leadership.
In addition to growing academically, Clayton State has brought several significant new facilities on-line in the past 10 years. The James M. Baker University Center, Clayton State’s signature building, was completed in August 2004 and provides the University with a true “Center” for student life.
In a six week period between August and October 2008, the University dedicated three new buildings; the University’s first student housing, Laker Hall, the Student Activities Center and a new building for the AACSB-accredited School of Business. In January 2011, the University opened the Laboratory Annex Building and, in November 2013, broke ground for a $19.8 million science building that is expected to open in August 2015. Clayton State - East, located on Trammell Road, provides newly-renovated space for University departmental offices as well as additional classroom space. In addition, instructional sites in Fayette and Henry counties provide outreach to neighboring communities.
President Hynes’ tenure at Clayton State has featured the University putting into action a comprehensive strategic plan and its first brand campaign, “Dreams Made Real,” being ranked third among state universities in economic impact by the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, and fifth among public regional colleges in the south by U.S. News & World Report, and being called a “treasure of a Georgia university” by James magazine. Hynes has also overseen the doubling of the University’s on-campus residential housing, a record enrollment, and the establishment of growing partnerships with the Clayton, Henry and Fayette public schools; all initiatives that track to the new strategic plan.
Clayton State has also achieved acclaim outside of academics. In 1991, Clayton State opened the doors to the finest small performance facility in the southeastern United States, the nationally and internationally-renown Spivey Hall.
Clayton State University is an NCAA Division II member, fielding teams in; men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor track, men’s and women’s outdoor track, men’s golf and women’s tennis, and competing in one of the top conferences in the nation at that level - the Peach Belt Conference. In March 2011, the Clayton State Lakers women’s basketball team won the national championship.