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Indiana University stands as one of the most accomplished and well-rounded academic institutions in the United States. Our flagship Bloomington campus offers over 550 academic programs (including over 200 undergraduate majors) and 200 research facilities. Over 43,000 students attend IU Bloomington, with nearly 3,000 of them taking their endeavors abroad.

Before it become a full-fledged beacon of opportunity, IU Bloomington underwent a history of change, contributing to the IU system’s two centuries of existence. IU is preparing to celebrate its Bicentennial in 2020.  With that in mind, here’s s a quick look inside the origins of this great institution we call home:

Early Beginnings

IU was established by the General Assembly on January 20, 1820, originally as our State Seminary.  Construction of the first building began two years later, and following its completion in 1824, the Indiana State Seminary opened its doors to its first class of 10 male students. The institution changed its name to the “Indiana College” in 1828.  It would change again, to “Indiana University” in 1838.

IU hit two milestones in 1883, when it awarded  its first doctoral degree, and competed in its first intercollegiate sport  — a baseball match-up against Asbury University.

The creation of IU Bloomington

1883 also witnessed one of the University’s biggest hardships: the burning of the original campus at Seminary Square. The campus was quick to respond, initiating a rebuilding process from 1884-1908 atop 20 acres of land purchased in east Bloomington.   This established the university’s main location as we know it today. After addressing setbacks, including the construction of a reservoir to combat a limited water supply, the new campus became fully operational. Around the same time, the School of Education was established and Clarence Lucas, Sr. became the first African-American graduate from the School of Medicine.

Paving a path for knowledge

No history of IU is complete without the contributions of Herman B Wells, who served as IU’s 11th president from 1938-1962 and, later, as our first chancellor from 1962-2000.   Dr. Wells established a foundation of excellence for IU, fighting for an elevation in the university’s research offerings, arts, and international study programs. A devoted and driven leader,  Dr. Wells also fought for the rights of African-American students and the expansion of our campus green spaces, fostering the inclusive and progressive culture maintained at IU to this day.  Dr. Wells passed away in 2000, leaving behind an unparalleled legacy of achievement.

Today, IU strives to celebrate our rich history of progress and achievement, carrying on the legacies of our most productive architects and our most prominent innovators.