Dr. James Stewart (pictured left) of Lovedale realized that "if the desire for education among the African people continued to grow it would be necessary to provide University education." He stressed this point of view to the Inter-Colonial Native Affairs Commission.
On December 28, a week after the death of Dr. Stewart, a convention of 160 representative of various States and organizations was held at Lovedale to consider the recommendation of the Inter-Colonial Native Affairs Commission that a Central College or a similar institution be established. The meeting resolved to send a petition to the High Commissioner and to the various colonial Governments of South Africa, praying that an Inter-State Native college be established.
A conference, followed by an Executive Board, met in the early days of October 1907, in King Williams Town. It was "anticipated that the proposed college would teach greater co-operation between racial groups."
The United Free Church of Scotland promised a hostel and, as part of a 5000-pound sterling contribution offered the site of Fort Hare.
"Other sites had also been suggested, including Bloemfontein, Kroonstad, Potchefstroom and Maseru; the Transkeian Representatives supported the suggestion to accept the Fort hare site because they claimed it had been made by the people most competent to choose."
The South African Native College on the site of Fort Hare opens its doors.The first principal was Mr. Alexander Kerr, a graduate of Edinburgh University and a teacher trained at Moray House. His only full-time staff assistant was Mr. D. D. T. Jabavu (pictured left), son of one of the founders of the college, whose qualifications included a London University English Honours degree, and Education Diploma of Birmingham University, and considerable first-hand knowledge of American educational systems. The new college offered course to students studying for Matriculation, Agricultural and Business Diplomas, and later, for the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
In 1920, Beda Hall,the Anglican Hostel is built followed by the Methodist built Wesley hostel in 1921. Iona, the Presbyterian hostel is built in 1923.That same year, Z.K Matthews (pictured left) receives the first degree awarded by the South African Native College.
Honeydale Farm (pictured left) was purchased and a small dairy herd established in 1926. The Christian Union building (pictured left) is donated by the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) of North American and Canada in 1930. Govan Mbeki (pictured left) graduates in 1935 with a Diploma in Education.
Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela meet at Fort Hare. Though they see little of each other because they live in different hostels, they travel together into the neighbouring communities to teach bible studies.
In 1943,Nelson Mandela who completed his degree externally is awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Native Administration and Politics.
ZK Matthews is appointed Vice-Chairman of Senate at Fort Hare in 1950.
In 1955, Fort Hare becomes affiliated with Rhodes University and the name changes to the University College of Fort Hare.
Under the University Education Act 61, Fort Hare qualifies as a University institution.
Fort Hare is closed for one month following serious acts of indiscipline by the student body.
ZK Matthews is elected as acting principal.
The Extension of University Education Bill is introduced, which "would appear to empower the state to control the staff and students of university colleges.
Pronouncements made by Government members of Parliament, regarding government control of Fort Hare.
Fort Hare council refuses to introduce salary differentiation on the basis of colour, and meets the cost of bringing all salaries up to the standard for Europeans set by the Department of Education, Arts, and Science.
In a ceremony of mourning over the imminent government take-over of Fort Hare, a final assembly of the University College of Fort Hare is held on 28 October. A plaque is placed in Livingstone Hall to commemorate those who worked with Fort Hare from its inception to 1959.
On January 1st, the government, under the Department of Bantu Education, takes control of Fort Hare.
A gallery of contemporary African art was added to F.S. Malan Museum.
Professor De Wet, a member of the Broederbond, is appointed principal after professor Ross retires. His installation ceremony is boycotted by students.
Full University status was enacted and the College became the University of Fort Hare.
The seventies introduced a new era of development when the total student enrolment more than doubled during the first half of the decade, namely from 613 in 1970 to 1320 in 1975.
Since 1975 five Black members have been nominated to the Council of the University.
An extensive road building and campus development programme was commenced.
New departments in the fields of Music, Fine Arts, Applied Computer Science and Biochemistry were created.
A branch of the University was established in Umtata, which became the nucleus of the autonomous University of Transkei on 1 January 1977.
The Public Relations division of the University published the first volume of a twice-yearly newspaper, the Fort Harian.
Students protest at the impending independence of the Ciskei, the university closes.
1981- Ciskei became an independent Republic and the Department of Education and Training of the Republic of South Africa entered into an agreement to administer the University for an initial period of five years.
The Centre for Xhosa Literature was established.
The book stock in the Library amounted to more than 100 000 volumes.
The new Arts Block was opened and the two Natural Science buildings were completed.
Indoor Sports Complex was completed.
The University of Fort Hare Act was amended in the National Assembly, Bisho, removing all references to race and giving the University Council financial autonomy.
Staff Amenities Building was built.
A senior lecturer, Dr. Amos Mdebuka, became the first person to graduate from the university with a doctorate of physics.
More than 3 000 students, excluding post-graduates and late registrations, have registered at the University for the 1988 academic year.
New De Beers Centenary Art Gallery opened. The inauguration brochure contained 70 black artists whose works were among the collection.
The appointment of a new University council marked the end of Bantu education. Fort Hare autonomy was restored.
Prof Sbusiso Bengu is appointed the first black principal of Fort Hare, he also took the position as the institution's rector and Oliver Tambo accepts the position of Chancellor.
Oliver Tambo conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Law on his long-time colleague, Nelson Mandela.
Fort Hare University has become the custodian of the archives of two leading political liberation movements, the African National Congress and the Pan African Congress.
SOMAFCO collection arrived at Fort Hare.
The first major book on black South African Art, Images of Man, written by Prof. Eddie de Jager (African Studies Department), was published.
Opening of the ANC Archives by Vice-President T. Mbeki on behalf of President N. Mandela.
The National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre is opened.
Mr. Alan Shaw and Professor Derrick Swartz take up the posts of Registrar and Vice Chancellor, respectively.
The process of transforming the university begins.
A review of all university structure and programs is undertaken and published as the Fort Hare Review.
Strategic planning based on the Fort Hare Review is started culminating in the Strategic Plan 2000 (SP2000).
An implementation plan published as the Institutional Operation Plan is set in motion with the development of the Implementation Control Centre located in Livingston Hall.
The Strategic Plan 2000 (SP2000) is launched providing a blueprint for the transformation of the university.
President Thabo Mbeki delivers the inaugural address at the first ZK Matthews Memorial Lecture.
The first Alumni Homecoming event is held at the Main campus.
The first Robert Sobukwe Memorial Lecture is held.
Under the restructuring of the Higher Education sector, Fort Hare incorporates Rhodes University's East London campus.
President Thabo Mbeki confers the Supreme Order of the Baobab (Gold) on Fort Hare for its contribution to black training and leadership development on the African continent.
On the 8th February the university celebrates its 90th birthday.
In September the Miriam Makeba Center of Performing Arts is opened in East London.