History

A storied history nearly two centuries in the making

When IU was founded in 1820, it was one of the first public universities west of the Allegheny Mountains. Today it is one of the top public universities in the world.

A lot has happened in between. In addition to these university milestones, you can learn about the history of each of our campuses from their websites, or you can read a more detailed IU chronology.

Our many achievements include . . .

Crest formula

IU scientists developed the toothpaste formula that that Procter & Gamble later named Crest.

Nobel first

Late IU professor Elinor Ostrom was the first female Nobel Laureate in economic sciences.

Met debut

IU music students were the first university company to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

First comic book course

IU alum, faculty member, and Batman movie producer Michael Uslan created the first accredited college course on comic books.

Testicular cancer cure

Lawrence Einhorn, an IU oncologist, developed a treatment for testicular cancer that improved the survival rate from 5 to 95 percent.

Ultra-rare collections

The Lilly Library is home to millions of special items, including a Gutenberg Bible and the world’s largest collection of mechanical puzzles.

How IU has grown

Founding and early years

  • 1820: A legislative act on January 20 establishes a state seminary, to be located in the town of Bloomington.
  • 1825: Classes begin with an enrollment of 10 men.
  • 1828: State Seminary becomes Indiana College.
  • 1830: The first class graduates.
  • 1838: Indiana College becomes Indiana University.
  • 1854: The IU Alumni Association is founded.
  • 1867: IU becomes one of the first state universities to admit women.
  • 1869: Sarah Parke Morrison becomes the first woman to graduate from IU.

Expansion throughout the state

  • 1891: IU offers its first class in Indianapolis.
  • 1893: “Hail to Old I.U.,” IU’s official alma mater, is performed by the IU glee club for the first time.
  • 1895: Marcellus Neal becomes IU’s first African American graduate, with an A.B. in mathematics.
  • 1916: IU’s first extension office opens in Indianapolis.
  • 1917: IU opens an extension center in Fort Wayne.
  • 1919: Frances Marshall, IU’s first female African American graduate, earns an A.B. in English.
  • 1921: IU begins offering courses in Gary and Lake County.
  • 1932: IU opens its Calumet Center in East Chicago.
  • 1933: IU opens an extension center in South Bend.
  • 1936: The IU Foundation is established.
  • 1941: IU establishes the Falls City Area Center in Jeffersonville.
  • 1945: IU establishes an extension center in Kokomo.
  • 1948: IU assumes management of Gary College, which becomes the university’s Gary Center.

Establishing the regional campuses and IUPUI

  • 1961: The South Bend center becomes an IU campus and moves to its riverside site.
  • 1963: The Gary Center and the Calumet Center combine to become IU Northwest.
  • 1964: Indiana University and Purdue University open the combined campus of IPFW.
  • 1965: IU Kokomo moves to a new campus.
  • 1968: The South Bend campus is renamed IU South Bend.
  • 1968: IU’s Jeffersonville location becomes IU Southeast.
  • 1969: IU and Purdue join together to create IUPUI.
  • 1970: Indiana University–Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC) is established.
  • 1971: IU East is established.
  • 1973: IU Southeast moves to New Albany.

Academic growth and the online age

  • 1970s through the 2010s: IU campuses add a number of schools, including the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (1972) and the School of Optometry (1975). Today IU is in the midst of its largest academic restructuring in nearly 100 years. Since 2012, the university has established or reconfigured seven schools: the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, and the School of Public Health, the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design, and The Media School in Bloomington.
  • 1989: IU offers its first online class.
  • 2012: IU launches IU Online.
  • 2018: IU Fort Wayne joins the university system.

Coming in 2020: our bicentennial

You can start getting ready by looking at our Bicentennial Strategic Plan and giving to For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.