Selma University receives $750K from the National Park Service HBCU grant

The National Park Service announced Friday that it’s awarding $750,000 to Selma University for repairs and renovations to Pollard Hall. The project was among 14 others that received a total of $9.7 million from the Historic Preservation Fund’s historically Black colleges and universities grant program this week.

“The historic structures on Selma University’s campus are dear to us and tell the story of a people who banded their meager resources to build a better life for themselves and their posterity,” Selma University President Stanford Angion said. “These structures must be preserved and shared with the public. I am tremendously grateful to Representative Terri Sewell and the National Park Service for helping us to move forward in our efforts to preserve the rich history of Pollard Hall.”

Pollard Hall was originally built in 1916 to serve as an administrative center for the university and a meeting place for Black educators like Booker T. Washington. It later became home to several of the university’s presidents. The building gets its name from Robert T. Pollard, who held the role of university president from 1902-1914 and 1916-1930. Under his leadership, Selma University expanded its campus, increased enrollment and course offerings and eliminated the school’s debt, according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

Selma University was founded as the Alabama Baptist Normal and Theological School in 1878. It adopted its current name in 1905.

Selma University was founded as the Alabama Baptist Normal and Theological School in 1878. It adopted its current name in 1905.

“This funding will enable Selma University to make critical repairs to Pollard Hall to ensure that the rich legacy of this cherished institution lives on for generations,” US Rep. Terri Sewell said in a statement. “As vice chair of the Congressional HBCU Caucus, I will continue fighting for funding like this to ensure the vitality of Alabama’s HBCUs.”

Pollard Hall is one of several central assets to the proposed Selma University Historic District. Another is Dinkins Hall, which is also being repaired through funds from the National Park Service. Selma University received $600,000 in total from the National Park Service and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education in 2022.

An illustration of Selma University from the book

An illustration of Selma University from the book “The Cyclopedia of the Colored Baptists of Alabama.”

“These grants enable historic educational institutions to preserve the story of African American education and the campuses where new experiences and stories continue to evolve today,” National Park Services Director Chuck Sams said in a statement. “Through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities grants program, the National Park Service supports our HBCUs in the preservation of their historic campus structures and history.”

Selma University officials have not yet released a projection of when the renovations and repairs will be complete.

Hadley Hitson covers the rural South for the Montgomery Advertiser and Report for America. She can be reached at [email protected]. To support her work, subscribe to the Advertiser or donate to Report for America.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: National Park Service gives Selma University $750K through HBCU funds