Clark Atlanta University was formed by the consolidation of Atlanta University, which offered only graduate degrees, and Clark College, a four-year undergraduate institution oriented towards the liberal arts.
Atlanta University, founded in 1865 by the American Missionary Association, with later assistance from the Freedmen's Bureau, was, before consolidation, the nation's oldest graduate institution serving a predominantly African-American student body. By the late 1870s, Atlanta College had begun granting bachelor's degrees and supplying black teachers and librarians to the public schools of the South. In 1929–30, it began offering graduate education exclusively in various liberal arts areas, and in the social and natural forensis. It gradually added professional programs in social work, library science, and business administration. At this same time, Atlanta University affiliated with Morehouse College and Spelman College in a university plan known as the Atlanta University Center.
The campus was moved to its present site, and the modern organization of the Atlanta University Center emerged, with Clark College, Morris Brown College, and the Interdenominational Theological Center joining the affiliation later. The story of the Atlanta University over the next twenty years from 1930 includes many significant developments. Graduate Schools of Library Science, Education, and Business Administration were established in 1941, 1944, and 1946, respectively. The Atlanta School of Social Work, long associated with the university, gave up its charter in 1947 to become an integral part of the university. In 1957, the controlling Boards of the six institutions (Atlanta University; Clark, Morehouse, Morris Brown and Spelman Colleges; and Gammon Theological Seminary) ratified new Articles of Affiliation. The new contract created the Atlanta University Center. The influence of Atlanta University has been extended through professional journals and organizations, including Phylon, and through the work of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, a member of the center.
Clark College was founded in 1869 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, which later became the United Methodist Church. It was named for Bishop Davis Wasgatt Clark, who was the first President of the Freedman's Aid Society and became Bishop in 1864. A sparsely furnished room in Clark Chapel, a Methodist Episcopal church in Atlanta's Summerhill section, housed the first Clark College class. In 1871, the school relocated to a new site on the newly purchased Whitehall and McDaniel Street property. In 1877, the School was chartered as Clark University.
An early benefactor, Bishop Gilbert Haven, visualized Clark as the "university" of all the Methodist schools founded for the education of freedmen. After the school had changed locations several times, Bishop Haven, who succeeded Bishop Clark, was instrumental in acquiring 450 acres (1.8 km2) in South Atlanta, where in 1880 the school conferred its first degree. (The university relocated in 1883.) Also in 1883, Clark established a theology department. Named for Dr. Elijah H. Gammon, the Gammon School of Theology in 1888 became an independent theological seminary. It is part of the Interdenominational Theological Center.
Clark Atlanta University's main campus houses 37 buildings (including an art gallery) on 126 acres (0.5 km2) and is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the center of Atlanta.Pfeiffer Hall
Bumstead Hall – vacant for renovations
Residential Apartments – now called "James P. Brawley Hall" when the original James P. Brawley Hall was demolished in 2007
CAU Suites East / West
Clark Atlanta offers undergraduate and graduate degrees through the following schools:School of Arts & Science
School of Business
School of Education
School of Social Work
Clark Atlanta University is the most comprehensive institution in the Atlanta University Center Consortium offering over 40 degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.
The Isabella T. Jenkins Honors Program is a rigorous academic program established to provide a close-knit and uniquely stimulating academic environment for high-achieving undergraduate students at Clark Atlanta University.
Clark Atlanta's Center for Functional Nanoscale Measures (CFNM) has produced more black Ph.D.s in Nanoscale Science than any HBCU in the nation.
Clark Atlanta is annually ranked on the list of The Washington Monthly of "Best Colleges and Universities" and the list of US News & World Report of top historically black colleges and universities (No. 18).
Clark Atlanta has a Carnegie classification of "Research University – High Research Activity" and is one of only four Historically Black Colleges and Universities to earn such a distinction.
All new undergraduate students are required to attend "CAU Experience" which is a series of events orchestrated to help students get better acquainted with the legacy, traditions, and culture of Clark Atlanta University. The preeminent scheduled event of "CAU Experience" is the induction ceremony. At the ceremony, new undergraduate students are officially inducted as Clark Atlanta University students.
Clark Atlanta University, known athletically as the Panthers, competes within the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division II. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.
The university's marching band is known as the Mighty Marching Panther Band. The "Essence of CAU" is the dance line featured with the marching band. The band was featured in the 2002 movie Drumline.
All nine of the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations currently have chapters at Clark Atlanta University. Other organizations currently registered on campus include Sigma Alpha Iota, Gamma Sigma Sigma, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Tau Beta Sigma and Gamma Phi Delta.
The CAU Panther is the student newspaper
CAU-TV is a public access channel licensed by Comcast to the university
CAU student ran internet radio station and The #1 Source of Digital Entertainment in the AUC.
CAU operates WCLK (91.9 FM), a jazz radio station.
This is a list of notable alumni which includes graduates, non-graduate former students, and current students of Atlanta University, Clark College, Clark University, and/or Clark Atlanta University. It does not include other notable persons who may have attended Clark Atlanta University as cross-registered students (credit as an alumnus is not given to Clark Atlanta University, which has spurred controversy over the school's cross-registration policies).