Auburn University today is a comprehensive land, sea and space grant institution – among the few that hold that distinction – occupying more than 1,840 acres and helping fulfill the dreams of nearly 25,000 students.
The university began, though, as the small, more humble East Alabama Male College, which was chartered in 1856 and opened its doors in 1859 as a private liberal arts institution.
From 1861 to 1866 the college was closed because of the Civil War. The college had begun an affiliation with the Methodist Church before the war. Due to dire financial straits, the church transferred legal control of the institution to the state in 1872, making it the first land-grant college in the South to be established separate from the state university. It thus became the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama.