By action of the Alabama Conference of The Methodist Episcopal Church, South in session at Talladega, December 13-18, 1854, Auburn University and Birmingham - Southern College were born. The delegation resolved to "have a college within the bounds of our Conference." While the intent was to start a single college by and for the Methodist Church, intense rivalry between eastern and western sections of the state over the location of the school resulted in two institutions: the East Alabama Male College in Auburn and Southern University in Greensboro. Both schools were chartered by the state legislature in 1856, and both struggled to survive during the Civil War.
The College at Auburn was transferred from the Church to the state in 1872, and it became the land-grant Agricultural & Mechanical College of Alabama. In 1899, its name was changed to the Alabama Polytechnic Institute and, in 1960, to Auburn University.
Southern University at Greensboro merged with Birmingham College in 1918 to form Birmingham - Southern College, maintaining a church - related status from its beginning to the present.