Born on August 4, 1882 in Capahosic, Virginia, Ferdinand Douglass Bluford was the third president of A&T, serving longer than any president or chancellor. Completing elementary school in 1900, Bluford attended high school at Wayland Academy in Richmond, Virginia and college at Virginia Union University also in Richmond. He was ranked as one of the three best students in his class at Virginia Union, graduating from there in 1908. At Howard University in Washington, DC, Bluford received the Bachelor of Pedagogy degree in 1909. Prior to coming to A&T, he taught at A&M College in Normal, Kentucky; Kentucky State College in Frankfort, Kentucky; and Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School in Lawrenceville, Virginia. At A&T, Bluford was a professor of English for six years, an acting dean, a full dean and vice president. He was appointed acting president after the death of Dr. Dudley in 1925 and was chosen unanimously by members of the Board of Trustees as president on June 13, 1925.
With Bluford’s guidance, A&T was raised from a "D" class college in 1927 to an "A" class institution in 1932 by the North Carolina Department of Education and by other leading educational agencies. By 1955, the campus had grown to one hundred and ten acres, the farm land reached a total of six hundred seventy-two acres and the property value of the thirty-five campus buildings was twelve million dollars. The Graduate School and the Schools of Agriculture, Education, General Studies, Engineering, and Nursing were established as well as the Technical Institute.
Dr. Bluford was seventy three years old when he died on December 21, 1955. His body lay in state in Bluford Library, the new building that was erected in 1955 and named for him. The next morning, the Greensboro Daily News carried a front page column detailing Bluford’s contributions to A&T, Greensboro and the country.