Location: Forsyth, Georgia, USA
Opened: Founded in 1849 as the Forsyth Female Collegiate Institute
Closed: Merged with Mercer University in 1986, which then closed it in 1987
Tift College was one of those women's colleges that went through a lot of name changes over the years. Founded as Forsyth Female Collegiate Institute in 1849, it was renamed Monroe College in 1857. The trustees then renamed again in 1907, this time as Bessie Tift College, in honor of loyal alumna Elizabeth "Bessie" Willingham Tift. (Tift managed to persuade her persuade her wealthy businessman husband to make large and frequent benefactions to the school and save it from bankruptcy.) The name was finally shortened to Tift College in 1956.
|Tift College students (1929)|
Like many small women's liberal arts colleges during the 1970s and 80s, Tift College faced a shrinking student body. Enrollment at Tift declined steadily from 489 in 1979 to 236 in 1985. Nevertheless, the 1986 merger with Mercer University was not passively accepted by Tift's students, staff, and alumnae. In fact, the district attorney of the Flint Judicial Circuit, three former trustees of Tift, a former professor of Tift, an organization called SavTift, Inc., and several alumni and donors of
Postcard of Tift College, students at Bessie Tift College gather in front of Upshaw Hall to participate in May Day festivities (1929)