University History

The story of how Grambling State University came to existence is one of resilience. Like many public HBCUs, early administrators were determined to succeed amid formidable odds. This mindset of success manifested an impressive gallery of accomplished alumni across a spectrum of industries and professions. 

Charles P. Adams

Grambling State University opened on November 1, 1901 as the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School. It was founded by the North Louisiana Colored Agriculture Relief Association, organized in 1896 by a group of African-American farmers who wanted to organize and operate a school for African Americans in their region of the state.

In response to the Association’s request for assistance, Tuskegee Institute’s Booker T. Washington sent Charles P. Adams to help the group organize an industrial school. Adams became its founding president.

In 1905, the school moved to its present location and was renamed the North Louisiana Agricultural and Industrial School. By 1928, after becoming a state junior college and being renamed the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute, the school began to award two-year professional certificates and diplomas. 

In 1936, the curriculum emphasis shifted to rural teacher education; students were able to receive professional teaching certificates after completing a third academic year. 

The first baccalaureate degree was awarded in 1944, in elementary education. In 1946, the school became Grambling College, named after P.G. Grambling, the white sawmill owner who had donated the parcel of land where the school was constructed. In addition to elementary educators, Grambling prepared secondary teachers and added curricula in sciences, liberal arts and business, transforming the college from a single purpose institution of teacher education into a multipurpose college. In 1949, the college earned its first accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

In 1974, the addition of graduate programs in early childhood and elementary education gave the school a new status and a new name – Grambling State University. The university expanded and prospered between 1977 and 2000. Several new academic programs were incorporated and new facilities were added to the 384-acre campus, including a business and computer science building, school of nursing, student services building, stadium, stadium support facility and an intramural sports center.

Important Dates


Founded as Colored Industrial and Agricultural School


Moved to its present location at 403 Main Street in Grambling, La.


Named changed to Grambling State University

Old GSU site

What started with 3 teachers and 125 students has grown into a global brand that has produced more than 40,000 graduates worldwide.

Pictured: Original site of the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School, now Grambling State University (courtesy of GSU Archives)

Longest Serving University Presidents

RWE Jones

Ralph W.E. Jones


Charles P. Adams

Charles P. Adams


Joseph B. Johnson

Joseph B. Johnson


President Richard Gallot

Richard J. Gallot, Jr.

2016 - 2024

Historic Buildings: Then and Now

As Grambling State established its new beginning the administration also took care to honor Grambling State’s strong, prestigious history. In 2010, the following nine buildings were added to National Register of Historic Buildings.

Historic Long-Jones Hall Current Long-Jones Hall

Original Name: Long Hall

Original Use: Administration/Classrooms

Year Built: 1939

Current Name: Long-Jones Hall

Current Use: Administration

Historic Jewett Hall Current Jewett Hall

Original Name: Jewett Hall

Original Use: Senior Women's Dormitory

Year Built: 1939

Current Name: Jewett Hall

Current Use: Women's Dormitory

Historic Gymnasium/Auditorium Current Eddie G. Robinson Museum

Original Name: Gymnasium/Auditorium

Original Use: Gymnasium/Auditorium

Year Built: 1939

Current Name: Eddie Robinson Museum

Current Use: Museum

Historic Lee Hall Current Lee Hall

Original Name: Lee Hall

Original Use: Library

Year Built: 1939

Current Name: Lee Hall

Current Use: Financial Aid

Historic Physical Health and Education Building Current Men's Memorial Gymnasium

Original Name: Physical Education and Health Building

Original Use: Gymnasium

Year Built: 1954

Current Name: Men's Memorial Gymnasium

Current Use: Gymnasium

Historic Auditorium Current T.H. Harris Auditorium

Original Name: The Auditorium

Original Use: Auditorium

Year Built: 1960

Current Name: T. H. Harris Auditorium

Current Use: Auditorium

Historic Brown Hall Current Brown Hall

Original Name: Brown Hall

Original Use: Freshmen Women's Dormitory

Year Built: 1956

Current Name: Brown Hall

Current Use: Classrooms/Administration

Historic Women' Teachers Hall Current University Police Building

Original Name: Women' Teachers Hall

Original Use: Housing for Female Teachers

Year Built: 1943

Current Name: Student Conduct and Academic Advisement

Current Use: Administration

Historic Infirmary Current Foster-Johnson Health Center

Original Name: Infirmary

Original Use: Infirmary

Year Built: 1943

Current Name: Foster-Johnson Health Center

Current Use: Infirmary/Counseling Center