Kentucky State University

Kentucky State University
Latin: Statum Universitas Kentuckiensis
Motto "Inspiring Innovation. Growing Leaders. Advancing Kentucky."
Type Public, HBCU
Established 1886 (1886) [1]
President Aaron Thompson (interim)
Provost Beverly L. Downing
Students 2,159
Undergraduates 2,025[2]
Postgraduates 134[2]
Location Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S.
38°12′00″N 84°51′30″W / 38.20000°N 84.85833°W / 38.20000; -84.85833Coordinates: 38°12′00″N 84°51′30″W / 38.20000°N 84.85833°W / 38.20000; -84.85833
Campus 915 acres (3.70 km2)
Colors Green and Gold
Nickname Thorobreds & Thorobrettes
Sporting affiliations

Kentucky State University ( KSU ) is a public co-educational university in Frankfort, Kentucky. Founded in 1886 as the State Normal School for Colored Persons, KSU was the second state-supported institution of higher learning in Kentucky.[1] It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,025 and a total graduate enrollment of 134.[2]


Kentucky State Industrial College for Colored Persons campus in 1898

Kentucky State University was chartered in May 1886 as the State Normal School for Colored Persons, only the second state-supported institution of higher learning in Kentucky.[1] During the euphoria of Frankfort's 1886 centennial celebration, the city donated $1,500 towards the purchase of land for a new college on a bluff overlooking Frankfort.

The new school formally opened on October 11, 1887, with three teachers, 55 students, and John H. Jackson as president.[1] Recitation Hall (now Jackson Hall), the college's first permanent building, was erected in that year.

KSU became a land-grant college in 1890, and the departments of home economics, agriculture and mechanics were added to the school's curriculum.[1] The school produced its first graduating class of five students in the spring of that year. A high school was organized in 1893. This expansion continued into the 20th century in both name and program. In 1902, the name was changed to Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons. The name was changed again in 1926 to Kentucky State Industrial College for Colored Persons.

In the early 1930s, the high school was discontinued, and in 1938 the school was named the Kentucky State College for Negroes.[1] The term "for Negroes" was dropped in 1952. Kentucky State College became a university in 1972, and in 1973 the first graduate students enrolled in its School of Public Affairs.


Demographics of student body - Spring 2014 [2]
Undergraduate Graduate
African American 49% 44%
Asian American .64% 0.74%
White American
33.66% 34%
Hispanic American 1.97% 2.23%
Other/Unknown 12.86% 3.73%
Population census
YearPop.±% p.a.
2006 2,500    
2007 2,696+7.84%
2008 2,659−1.37%
2009 2,834+6.58%
2010 2,851+0.60%
2011 2,746−3.68%
2012 2,524−8.08%
2013 2,533+0.36%
2014 2,159−14.77%

Students are divided into four colleges, four associate degrees, 55 undergraduate degrees and six post-graduate programs.[3][4]

The university also offers five liberal study degrees through the Whitney Young School (WYS) of Honors and Liberal Studies, which consists of a Honors Program, an Integrative Studies Program and an International Studies Program.[5] The degrees include Africana Studies and Liberal Studies.[4]


The Paul G. Blazer Library,[6] constructed in 1960,[7] houses a collection of more than 700,000 items includes extensive reference, periodical and circulating collections of materials such as books, videos, microforms, sound recordings and others, to aid students in their course work and research.[8] It is named after Paul G. Blazer, a strong supporter of education[9] who was the founder and CEO of Ashland Oil and Refining Company in Ashland, Kentucky.


As of 2014, Kentucky State University was host to 2,025 undergraduate students and 134 graduate students. African Americans comprised 49% of the undergraduate and 45% of the graduate student body.[2]


Kentucky State University teams participate as a member of the Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The school's mascot are the Thorobreds. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, and indoor and outdoor track and field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, softball and volleyball.[10]

The Exum Center, the university's athletic and recreational complex, was named after William Exum, the first African-American varsity football player at the University of Wisconsin.[11] Exum was hired as head of KSU's Physical Education department in 1949, and later made head of the Athletics department. He then became manager of the United States Track and Field teams at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics. Exum retired from KSU in 1980.

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Ezzrett Anderson One of the first African Americans from a predominantly African American school to play professional football when he joined the Los Angeles Dons of the old All-American Football Conference in 1947. He also played with the Los Angeles Mustangs. He played for the Hollywood Bears in the Pacific Coast League when they won the title.
Michael Bernard Basketball player; the first from KSU to be drafted by the NBA in 1970 (Cincinnati Royals)
Anna Mac Clarke 1941 Member of Women's Army Corps during WWII; 1st African American officer of an otherwise all-white company
Tom Colbert First African-American Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice
Travis "Machine" Grant College basketball star on Kentucky State University's 1970, 1971 and 1972 NAIA National Championship teams. Played for the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Diego Conquistadors of the American Basketball Association
Jayjay Helterbrand Filipino Player of the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the Philippine Basketball Association, 2008-09 Philippine Basketball Association MVP
Rod Hill Former professional football player who played six seasons in the NFL (1982-1987) and later starred in the CFL
Cletidus Hunt former professional football player who played six seasons in the NFL (1999-2004)
Joseph Kendall 1938 Former All-American Quarterback; dominated black college football in the 1930s while leading Kentucky State to a black college championship in 1934; the first person in KSU history to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame; inducted into the Kentucky State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975. He has been a teacher, coach, and parks administrator in Owensboro, Kentucky [12]
John Merritt 1950 Former head football coach at Jackson State University and Tennessee State University. One of the winningest coaches in HBCU football. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Council Rudolph Jr. 1972 A native of Anniston, AL graduated from Cobb Avenue High School in 1968. In his senior season, he helped the team go to a 9-0-1 championship season. He earned all-conference honors and a scholarship to Kentucky State. In his senior season, Kentucky State ended 8-3-0 and played in the Orange Blossom Classic Bowl game. He was a Pittsburgh Courier Honorable mention. He was inducted into both the Kentucky State Athletic Hall of Fame and Calhoun County (AL) Sports Hall of Fame. Drafted into the NFL in the seventh round, he helped the St. Louis Football Cardinals win two NFC East Championships (1974 & 1975). He retired after playing 6 seasons in the NFL with Houston, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
Yingluck Shinawatra 1991 The 28th and first female Prime Minister of Thailand
Benjamin F. Shobe 1941 civil rights attorney and jurist who advocated for the desegregation of public education and public facilities in the Commonwealth of Kentucky
Sam Sibert former college basketball standout; Drafted as the 19th player in the 1972 NBA Draft by the Cincinnati Royals
Moneta Sleet Jr. 1947 Photographer for Ebony, won a Pulitzer Prize for his picture of Coretta Scott King at the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Effie Waller Smith ca. 1900 Educator & poet; poet James Still called her "Kentucky's Emily Dickinson"
Elmore Smith NBA and college basketball player, who is listed among the top rebounders in college basketball history, starred on KSU's 1970 and 1971 national championship teams. Holds the NAIA records for Rebounds in a Season (799 in 1971 also tops on the NCAA All-Divisions list, as well as being eighth with 682 in 1970) and Career Average (22.6, seventh on the NCAA All-Divisions list), while ranking eighth on the NCAA All-Divisions Career list with 1719 total despite being the only player in the top 10 to play only three seasons. Earned NCAA Division II First Team All-American honors in 1971. A seven-foot center, Smith played in the NBA for eight seasons (1971-1979) and was the third overall pick in the 1971 NBA Draft for the Buffalo Braves; listed amongst all-time greatest shot-blockers in NBA history even though that statistic was only recorded for six of his seasons. Held the NBA Single-Season Block Shots Record of 393 while with the LA Lakers 1973-4 (Broken in 1984-5, but still a Lakers Record). [13]
Herb Trawick 1942 First black man to play in the Canadian Football League; played for the Montreal Alouettes 1946-1957 and was a seven-time All-Star; played in 4 Grey Cup Championships, winning in 1949; was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1975.
Davey 'Wiz' Whitney 1953 former head basketball coach at Texas Southern University and Alcorn State University. One of the winningest coaches in HBCU basketball. Inducted into National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame
Dr. Harrison B. Wilson 1950 became the second President of Norfolk State College in 1975
Whitney M. Young Jr. 1941 Former civil rights leader, educator and executive; former Executive Director who led the National Urban League through its most prosperous period; served many presidential commissions including as a Vietnam elections observer in 1967


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "History of Kentucky State University". Kentucky State University. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Enrollment Snapshot Spring 2014" (PDF). Kentucky State University. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
  3. "Quick Facts 2013-2014" (PDF). Kentucky State University. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
  4. 1 2 "KSU Academic Programs". Kentucky State University. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
  5. "Whitney Young School of Honors and Liberal Studies". Kentucky State University. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
  6. "Welcome to Paul G. Blazer Library".
  7. "Thorobred Yearbook 1960: Dedication and Opening of Paul Blazer Library (pages 100-102)".
  8. "Welcome to The University Library".
  9. John E. Kleber Editor-in Chief, The Kentucky Encyclopedia: Blazer, Paul Garrett (Lexington : University of Kentucky Press, 1992) Page 87.
  10. "KSU Thorobreds". Kentucky State University. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
  11. "Exum, William". University of Kentucky Libraries. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
  12. Information supplied by The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame press release May 1, 2007
  13. NAIA Men's Basketball Division I and Division II Regular-Season Records :: Individual & Team Records
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