• Donald V. Watkins

AUM Ranked One of Nation’s Worst Colleges for Your Money

Updated: 4 days ago

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on September 22, 2022


An Editorial Opinion


When it comes to higher education, not all colleges and universities are deemed equal. According to MoneyPop.com, there are a few around the country that aren’t worth the student loans and interest rates. Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) is one of them. The university has a less-than-average graduation rate and a nonexistent student life.


MoneyPop.com is a personal finance, wealth, and consumer website focused on providing tips about saving money and stories about wealth and business in every form.


Here is what MoneyPop.com had to say about AUM on March 12, 2021:


“No, not that Auburn University but Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. Truth be told, this university is very easy to get into, but even with a 93% acceptance rate, less than 35% graduate. That’s not a stellar statistic for students looking for a good education.


Not only that, but according to previous students, Auburn University at Montgomery has a nonexistent student life, making pricy year fees and accompanying debt not exactly worth it.”


MoneyPop.com’s rating of AUM mirrors a comparable “worst college for your money” rating published by Yahoo.com on December 28, 2020.


AUM was Birthed in 1967 as an alternative for Montgomery-Area White Students Who Otherwise Would Have Attended Alabama State University


Auburn University at Montgomery is a public university in Montgomery, Alabama. It was established in 1967 by Act 403 of the Alabama Legislature to provide college-bound white students in Montgomery with an alternative to attending historically black Alabama State University (ASU), which is also located in Montgomery.


Act 403 was signed into law during Gov. George Wallace’s infamous “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” era of the 1960s. AUM was intended to symbol of Alabama's massive resistance to the desegregation of the state's institutions of higher education.


The racial animus behind AUM’s creation and growth is discussed at length in Knight v. Alabama, 787 F. Supp. 1030, 1127 to 1136 at ¶¶430 to 514 (N.D. Ala. 1991). In short, the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and all-white state legislators made it clear to Alabama's white businesses and higher education leaders that they did not want white students attending ASU.


In 1967, Dr. Joe L. Reed, the former executive director of the Alabama State Teachers Association (ASTA) and an Alabama civil rights icon, and the ASTA, itself, sued in federal court to block AUM’s construction and operation. Plaintiffs claimed that AUM would perpetuate a dual system of public higher education in Montgomery. See, Alabama State Teachers Ass'n, et al. v. Alabama Public School and College Authority, et al., 289 F. Supp. 784 (M.D. Ala. 1968), aff'd per curiam, 393 U.S. 400, 89 S.Ct. 681, 21 L.Ed.2d 631 (1969). The plaintiffs were unsuccessful in stopping AUM's creation.


In March 1968, Dr. H. Hanly Funderburk, Jr., was appointed vice president and chief administrator of the newly created university. AUM opened its doors in September 1969 with nearly 600 students in the old Alabama Extension Center on Bell Street, next to Maxwell AFB. Two years later, the university relocated to a 500-acre campus on the old McLemore Plantation tract, 7 miles east of downtown Montgomery.


ASU was founded in 1867 as a state institution of learning for freed black slaves. The university is a doctoral degree granting institution that enjoys Level-Six accreditation from SACSCOC, along with Alabama’s three other flagship state universities -- the University of Alabama, Auburn University, and Alabama A&M University. ASU has nearly 6,000 students.


ASU offers 47 degree-granting programs, including 31 bachelor's, 11 master's, two Education Specialist and three doctoral programs, a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Law, a Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and a Doctorate in Microbiology.


ASU has a 99% acceptance rate and a 28% graduation rate. The average cost to attend ASU after financial aid is nearly $20,000.


In 2017, ASU reported an endowment of $101 million.


The ASU Department of Athletics currently sponsors men’s intercollegiate football, baseball, baseball, golf, tennis, track and cheerleading, along with women's intercollegiate basketball, soccer, softball, bowling, tennis, track, volleyball, golf and cheerleading. Sports teams participate in NCAA Division I (FCS - Football Championship Subdivision for football) in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), which it joined in 1982.


The ASU Hornets football team plays home games in the University's $62 million football stadium, which opened in November 2012,


In contrast, AUM has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) as an operationally separate institution from Auburn University since 1978.


Today, AUM has a 96% acceptance rate, 5,200 students, and a 31% graduation rate. The average cost to attend AUM after financial aid is about $14,000. There are no application fees when applying for admission to AUM. The university also waives ACT/SAT and GMAT/GRE/MAT minimum test score requirements for admission.


The most popular AUM bachelor's degrees granted are business administration, nursing, liberal arts, biology, elementary education and secondary education. The university's nursing and medical laboratory sciences programs boast placement rates of more than 90 percent. AUM also offers a joint doctorate program with Auburn University in Public Administration and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.


Today, AUM holds Level-Five accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


AUM has a reported endowment of $24 million.


The Auburn–Montgomery (AUM) athletic teams are called the Warhawks. The university is a member of the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Gulf South Conference (GSC) as a provisional member since the 2017–18 academic year (which achieved D-II full member status in 2019–20). The Warhawks previously competed as an NCAA D-II Independent during the 2016–17 school year; and in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC; formerly known as Georgia–Alabama–Carolina Conference (GACC) until after the 2003–04 school year) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1999–2000 to 2015–16.


Today, AUM competes in 11 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.


Epilogue


There was never an educational need in Montgomery for two public institutions of higher education. AUM was constructed as a safe haven for white college-bound students who could not afford to attend the University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa), Auburn University (in Auburn), or Troy State University (in Troy).


AUM is a stepchild in the Auburn University System. Auburn was never interested in building a world-class satellite campus in Montgomery, and did so only after being pressured by state legislators to expand into Montgomery.


Today, there appears to be no educational need for AUM's continued existence. It should be merged into ASU so that Montgomery will have one public institution of higher education that has the potential for dynamic academic growth and accretive value.


Otherwise, AUM may continue to be recognized as one of the worst colleges in America based upon the cost to attend the University and its limited academic offerings.

Entrance to Auburn University at Montgomery

Entrance to Alabama State University




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