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The American University was established within the District of Columbia by an Act of Congress on December 5, 1892, primarily thanks to the efforts of Methodist bishop Fletcher Hurst, who aimed to make an establishment that would train future public servants. Hurst also chose the location of the university, which at the time was the agricultural periphery of the District. After quite three decades devoted principally to securing support , the university was officially dedicated on May 15, 1914, with its first instructions beginning October of that year, when 28 students were enrolled, 19 of whom were graduates and therefore the remainder special students not candidates for a degree.
the primary Commencement, at which no degrees were awarded, was persisted June 2, 1915. The Second Annual Commencement was held the subsequent year and saw the awarding of the primary degrees: one academic degree and two doctor's degrees. AU admitted both women and African Americans, which was uncommon in education at the time. Among its first 28 students were five women, while an African American doctoral student was admitted in 1915.
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