In 1886, a group of visionary educators and business leaders saw the need for a higher education institution focused on career-based training to meet workforce needs in the southeastern United States. Together they founded what is now known as American National University with the intent of training workers in business, banking, accounting, administration, and other skilled professions. American National University steadily developed a reputation for providing men and women with an efficient and effective education preparing them for the world of professional work.
Students from many states made the trek to Roanoke, Virginia to receive a practical education that was more focused and relevant than that offered by other colleges and universities of the time.
As the institution’s first 100 years drew to a close, however, changes had already been underway that would give the institution a different appearance even as it continued to remain true to its original purpose. Rather than bringing students from surrounding states to stay at the dormitories and large central campus in Roanoke, American National University came to them.
New community-based campuses were built throughout Southwest Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. As the needs of the workforce expanded, business training was supplemented by career-focused programs in computers and health care. Certificate programs were no longer the norm—students pursued more in-depth study leading to associate’s degrees, and the University’s first baccalaureate programs were introduced.
Today, American National University and National College have developed into a master’s-level institution offering more than 45 academic programs through 30 community-based locations in six states. A burgeoning eUniversity serves a growing number of students in both 100% online and blended formats, while thousands of international students have turned to National for both academic degree programs and English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction.
The university’s reputation for excellence has been affirmed through numerous awards and acknowledgments, including awards for grassroots student advocacy (Association for Private Sector Colleges & Universities TOPS Award, 2012), support for veterans (Top 15% Military Friendly School, 2010-2015), and a Lifetime Achievement Award (Imagine America Foundation, 2012) recognizing American National University President Frank Longaker’s 40 years of service to the career college sector – to name just a few. The university continues to evolve. In an effort to recognize the University’s continuous history of adapting to change and envisioning the development that will carry us to them to their 200th anniversary in 2086, they look ahead to our “Evolution 2086.” The Evolution 2086 vision guides their goal of continuing to meet the workforce training needs for the 21st century and beyond. To answer increasing demands for career education at higher degree levels, they have added and will continue to add relevant master’s and doctoral programs. They will serve additional communities in more states with local campuses. They will expand and explore more accessible teaching methodologies, including online delivery, blended courses, and open-enrollment online courses. While focusing on their core of business, health care, and information technology, they will expand their curriculum to include training in developing fields and offer more in-depth courses where career-opportunity continues to grow.