April 1, 1909: Arkansas Tech University’s Birthday

Old Main 1917
Old Main at Arkansas Tech, as it appeared in 1917.

The story of Arkansas Tech University began on April 1, 1909.

That was when George Donaghey, the 22nd governor of Arkansas, signed Act 100 of the 37th Arkansas General Assembly into law. In so doing, he created agricultural high schools that would serve four geographic regions of the state.

One of those — the Second District Agricultural School — was located in Russellville following a decision by the school’s trustees on Feb. 10, 1910.

Construction of the Main Building began on April 21, 1910, and the school opened its doors to an initial class of 186 students on Oct. 26, 1910.

The name of the institution was changed to Arkansas Polytechnic College in 1925 and Arkansas Tech University in 1976.

Learn more about the history of ATU by reading an entry in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas authored by Dr. Thomas A. DeBlack, professor emeritus of history at Arkansas Tech: