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The A&T Alma Mater

The A&T Alma Mater is sung at formal occasions such as Commencement. Here is the history of the song, its lyrics & information about the woman who wrote it and the composer who scored it.


Alma Mater, a Latin phrase meaning “fostering mother”, is an expression used by a student or graduate to refer to their university or college. The words to the Alma Mater were written by Susan B. Dudley, wife of A&T’s second president, James Benson Dudley. Music for the poem was composed by Charles E. Stewart, an A&T music professor. The refrain “…from Dare to Cherokee” expresses Mrs. Dudley's true sentiments about North Carolina A&T and the students. Dare County is the farthest east, projecting into the Atlantic Ocean, and the farthest west is Cherokee, resting in the Appalachian Mountains. The objective was to draw students from as many counties as possible by setting a system of “state students”. This refrain became the watchword for recruitment. The song has remained unchanged over the years. The words still inspire and thrill “Aggies” — students, faculty, alumni & friends.

Adapted from the NC A&T State University Freshman Year of Studies: A Guidebook, 1987, pp. 7-8.

Alma Mater

Verse I

Dear A&T, Dear A&T, a monument
indeed, Around thy base with
grateful hearts behold thy students
kneel. We bless the power that
gave thee birth to help us in our
need, We'll ever strive while here on earth all loyalty to yield.


With joy, with joy, dear A&T, thy
students turn from thee To spread
thy trophies year by year from Dare to Cherokee.

Verse II

Dear A&T, Dear A&T, the signet
thou shalt be, Set by our great old
commonwealth, proud boaster of
the free She'd have the record of
her worth on granite not inscribed
Nay, let the children of her birth
proclaim it by their lives.

Verse III

Dear A&T, Dear A&T, henceforth
our aim shall be, By precepts wise
and deeds more sure to bless the
State through thee; The arts of
industry to wield against an idle foe
A harvest rich from ripened fields of what thy students sow.

Sheet Music

(Click on a thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window)

A thumbnail image of the A and T Alma Mater sheet music front cover.A thumbnail image of the A and T Alma Mater sheet music, first interior page.A thumbnail image of the A and T Alma Mater sheet music, second interior page.

Susan B. Dudley

Wife of A and T's second president, James B. Dudley, and lyricist of the A and T Alma Mater.Susan Wright Sampson was born in Wilmington, North Carolina to James Drawhorn Sampson and Fannie Kellog Sampson. The exact year of her birth is unknown but thought to be 1865. She was the fourteenth of fifteen children and was reared in an Episcopal household.

As a child, Susan had very little formal education. She was coached by her older brothers and sisters in the home and then attended a private school in Wilmington. She attended Oberlin College but her studies were ended because of the death of her brother Benjamin's wife, with whom she was living. Susie returned to Wilmington and applied for and received a teacher's certificate in 1880.

She began teaching in Wilmington and was a teacher at Peabody School when her future husband, James B. Dudley, became principal there. On February 23, 1882, she and Professor Dudley married. Several years after they married, the Dudleys were blessed with two daughters, Vivian and Inez, born two years apart. Both daughters finished the A&M Preparatory School and attended school in Worcester, Massachusetts. Inez died at a very young age.

In 1896, Professor Dudley left Peabody to become president of A&M College in Greensboro, North Carolina. At first the Dudleys lived in North Dormitory on the campus and for a number of years with President Dudley’s mother on Dudley Street. In 1910, the family moved to a twenty-room mansion (Magnolia House) on the corner of Dudley and Lindsay Streets where they lived until Dr. Dudley died in 1925.

Mrs. Dudley was an accomplished and versatile woman. For a number of years after coming to the college, she taught English literature and ancient history in the College Preparatory School. She was a director of plays, a debate coach and an excellent hostess. Her stamp on A&T includes her writing of the words to the A&T Alma Mater and the design of the arch structure, once a part of the main entrance to the campus. Susie Dudley died in 1933 of double pneumonia.

Charles E. Stewart

Composer of the A&T Alma Mater, director of instrumental and vocal music at A and T from 1909 to 1917, and ordained A.M.E. minister.Charles Stewart, composer of the music to the A&T Alma Mater, was director of instrumental and vocal music at A&T from 1909 to 1917. He was a student of music in the Illinois Conservatory of Music and a graduate from the Balatka School of Music in Chicago. He also completed a course in the Chicago Musical College specializing in voice, piano and composition. Reverend Stewart, an ordained African Methodist Episcopal minister, received his theological training at Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio during which time he was director of instrumental music. After leaving his position at A&T, Reverend Stewart went back into the ministry.

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