I noticed during a Rose Bowl advertisement last night that UGA claimed it was the birth place of American public education. To be honest and clear, UGA is the one of the first state charted universities (1785) along with UNC (1789). However UGA was inactive until 1801 and UNC mentioned the University in their states constitution in 1776, but it was not officially chartered until 1789. Clearly a bit of conflict between UGA and UNC. To compound matters William and Mary - which kicked off with a royal charter in 1693 - should be considered the oldest public state institution in America, without argument.
Higher Education Institutions
The College of William and Mary
University of Pennsylvania
University of Delaware
Washington and Lee University
UGA was chartered in 1785 by the state of Georgia, making it the first state-chartered public university in the United States. But as you can see from the list above that UGA is not that old from comparison. The University began admitting students in 1801. Until 1801 little if anything happened. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was charted on December 11, 1789 and was the first public university in the country to admit students in 1795. The first class graduated in 1798, making it the first public university to graduate students in the 18th century. The school was also part of the state’s 1776 Constitution outlining its creation. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill claims the title of oldest public university due to the state’s constitution of 1776 and the first class to graduate in the country from a public university. These are both very strong claims.
The College of William & Mary is in Williamsburg, Virginia, and was founded by royal charter in 1693, making it one of the oldest colleges, public or private, in the United States. The college severed ties with Great Britain after the Revolutionary War, but remained private until it closed after the Civil War due to financial troubles. It re-opened in 1888 and accepted funding from the state of Virginia to become public in 1906.