Coppin State University

Special to SunSpot

Located on 38 tree-lined acres in West Baltimore, the Coppin State University campus is a gem among the city's many learning environments, combining the amenities of a true urban setting with such sylvan touches as shaded walks and glistening fountains.

As one of the nation's historically black schools, Coppin State has played a unique role in the development of the city's African-American community. Many students from Baltimore's public schools come seeking a unique educational opportunity -- one that affords them the chance to expand their intellectual horizons and prepare for their future careers.

The school is named for Fanny Jackson Coppin, who was born a slave in Washington, D.C., in 1837. As a young girl, she was purchased out of slavery by an aunt. She went on to attend Oberlin College in Ohio and became one of the first African-American women to earn a degree from a major United States college.

In 1900 the Baltimore City School Board laid the groundwork for the college that would eventually bear Coppin's name. That year, the board created a one-year course to train African-American elementary school teachers. The teacher-training facility grew steadily in the coming years, and in 1926 was named the Fanny Jackson Coppin Normal School. By 1930 the school had developed a four-year curriculum, and in 1950 Coppin officially became part of the higher education system of Maryland under the State Department of Education.

Since 1963, the college has operated under a broader mandate, granting degrees not just to teachers but also to Bachelor of Arts students in a range of majors, including criminal justice and law enforcement, global studies, sports management and urban arts production. Master's degrees are available in adult and continuing education, criminal justice, curriculum and instruction, psychology and rehabilitation counseling, and special education. In addition, many students choose to pursue on-the-job training with national and local companies and agencies through the college's Cooperative Education and Internship Programs.

In addition to selecting from a diverse array of majors, students may also take part in numerous activities including a drama group, the Coppin Courier (the student-run newspaper), a choral group and a nursing students' association. NCAA Division I athletics include baseball, basketball, cross-country running, tennis, track and field, volleyball, weight lifting and wrestling, among others. The Tawes Center -- which offers food services, student lounges, recreation space and conference rooms -- is the communal gathering point on campus. When students feel like leaving the campus, they usually head downtown to museums, shops and entertainment venues.

While the majority of Coppin's students are African-American (95 percent of approximately 3,900 undergraduate students), the school prides itself on the diversity of its student body. Students hail from 20 states and 19 other countries. They come from dissimilar cultures, and their ages vary, as well. As both a learning environment and a place for self-discovery, the campus offers a powerful coming-together of ideas and personalities.

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