History of CAS

History of The College of Arts and Sciences, Appalachian State

Historical Timeline of the College


Watauga Academy founded “to prepare quality teachers to teach you in the “lost provinces” of Western North Carolina.”


Enrollment 150, 4 students enrolled in high school


Watauga Academy becomes Appalachian Training School 


Four literary societies are founded for male and female students. Male students had the Watauga and the Appalachian Societies, which met in recitation rooms weekly, and women had the Euterpean and Calliopean, which met in Lovill Home. These were the first social organizations on campus. 


Chapell Wilson begins teaching history and government at ATS until 1932.


Science Hall, the first specialized academic campus building is completed; later destroyed by a fire in 1946.
James M. Downum joins Appalachian faculty as professor of Latin.


Art classes, glee club, literary societies, student publications and team sports flourished for women and men. The academic program targeted teacher preparation in the form of theory and supervised practical application of methods. As the curriculum expanded, the administration added subject majors in the liberal arts to supplement these education courses.


Chapell Wilson supervises teacher training and begins teaching psychology.
A. J. Greene joins faculty as an assistant in Latin and English.
James D. Rankin joins faculty as professor of English.


The school became a four-year, degree granting institution named Appalachian State Teachers' College. Over 1,300 students were enrolled in the Bachelor of Science degree programs for primary grades education, physical education, math, english, science and history. 


The Social Science Department is established (faculty includes 1 Ph.D.; 3 M.A.s; 1 B.A.). Dr. D.J. Whitener serves as chair until 1956.
English and History majors are offered.


A major in French is offered.


Smith-Wright Hall is completed, still home to psychology and sociology classes today.


The Fine Arts Building, later called I.G.Greer Hall is completed. I.G. Greer Hall is home to the Dean's office and the Philosophy and Religion Department today. 


F. Ray Derrick joins as the head of the Department of Biology and served until 1973.


Beta Psi Chapter of the National Honorary Biological Society, Beta Beta Beta, is established. Science Club and Beta Beta Beta embark on a program to identify and label all trees on campus.


A change in N.C. Legislation recognized the teaching of liberal arts at Appalachian Teacher College as part of a statewide expansion of higher education. 


The first language lab is opened in the Department of Foreign Languages. It provided mainly Spanish language materials.


Student enrollment for the entire University soared to above 2,400 in 1958, only to double with baby boomers to over 5,000 by 1968; accordingly, the full-time faculty for the entire University grew to more than 300. 


A new electronic language lab is added for the Department of Foreign Languages in November. It officially opens in 1961 and offers Spanish and French materials. 


Rankin Science Building is completed.  Today this building has been expanded and is home to the departments of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Geography and Planning and Biology. 


In October and November, Rankin Science Hall holds evening open houses on Tuesday and Friday nights to allow students, faculty and staff use of the observatory to view stars, visible planets and the moon. 


The Department of Social Studies separates into the Departments of History, Political Science, Geography and Geology, and Sociology.


Appalachian State Teachers College (ASTC) designated a “regional university” and name changed to Appalachian State University.
Pre-professional programs are offered in the General College, offering interdisciplinary programs for pre-law, pre-medical, pre-dental and pre-engineering degrees.


Four new colleges at the University are established: General College, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Fine and Applied Arts and the College of Education.
Dr. William Strickland becomes the first Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
William Roland Neely becomes the first African-American student to graduate from Appalachian State with a BA in Psychology.


Sanford Hall is completed and is still home to the department of English today.
Caroline Anderson becomes the first African-American full-time faculty member in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.


The College of Arts and Sciences has 13 departments with majors in Anthropology Biology, Chemistry, English, Foreign Languages, Geography and Geology, History, Mathematics, Philosophy and Religion, Physics, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology.


Dr. Herbert W. Wey presided over the induction of Appalachian State University into the greater University of North Carolina system. 
Appalachian offers specialist degrees in biology, educational leadership, higher education and elementary education.


Watauga College is founded and includes 100 freshmen, 20 sophomores, juniors and seniors (both men and women).
The first "Women in History" course is offered. 


Walker Hall is completed,  home to the Department of Mathematical Sciences today. 
Ecology is approved as a major in Community and Regional Planning in the Department of Geography.


Appalachian State’s Women’s Studies Program is founded.
A Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Science with a Computer Science option is offered. 


The Center for Appalachian Studies and an MA in Appalachian Studies is established.

Late 1970s

The Department of International Studies is established (office created early 1970s).


The Dark Sky Observatory is completed.


Dr. James W. Byrd (Physics), Dean 


The Computer Science Program is accredited by the Computing Science Accreditation Board.


Donald Sink (Chemistry), Dean


Dr. Faye Sawyer, Interim Dean


Dr. Linda Bennett, Dean


Dr. Stan Aschleman, Interim Dean 


The old 1963 Rankin Science Building is demolished and Rankin Science North addition is completed.


Dr. Neil Lineback, Interim Dean


Dr. Robert Lyman, Dean


Dr. Anthony G. Calamai (Physics and Astronomy), Dean


The College of Arts and Sciences houses 16 departments, 2 programs, 2 centers and Watauga Residential College


Dr. Neva J. Specht (History), Dean

Today there are over 5,850 students and 451 full-time faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences alone. 


The College of Arts and Sciences celebrates 50 years!
Read more about celebrating 50 years at Appalachian State University at Appalachian Today.


The College hosts its inaugural Mountain Studies Lecture series virtually due to COVID-19 in partnership with National Geographic.


Dr. Michael Madritch (Biology), becomes the College's Interim Dean