A Second North Dakota University
In 1862 the United States Congress approved an act that authorized land grant colleges. Through this system, grants of public lands were made to states and territories. The purpose was to create at least one college dedicated to agriculture in each state and territory.
In 1883 the Dakota Territorial Council passed a bill authorizing an agricultural college. The location of the college was a cause of contention. It was decided that the college would be located in Fargo and the state capital was to be Bismarck. Valley City was miffed at being left out. It was decided that a teachers college would go there.
The Board of Trustees for the North Dakota Agricultural College first met on May 1, 1890. They determined that the college would utilize forty acres on the Lowell farm. Existing buildings there were secured by the city for the college. The Board also took steps to obtain funding of $15,000. The first home for the college was in the basement and main floor of Jones Hall at Fargo College, which was affiliated with the Congregational Church. It had opened 1887. A class in domestic economy used a nearby farmhouse on the corner of Tenth Avenue and Seventh Street North.
Horace E. Stockbridge was confirmed president of the new college on this date in 1890. Three faculty members were hired. This was the real beginning of the school. NDAC leased six rooms from Fargo College. The first regular class of students was admitted on September 8, 1891. In 1892 College Hall was the first building constructed on campus. It contained classes, offices, laboratories, the library, and an uncompleted upper floor that was used as a gym. The enrollment at that time was eighty students. College Hall is known today as Old Main.
Students had long referred to the NDAC as North Dakota State College. In 1958, a referendum to officially change the name was narrowly defeated. In 1960, another effort was successful. NDAC officially became North Dakota State University on December 8, 1960. NDSU’s current enrollment is over 13,000. There are over 650 resident faculty members. The school offers over 100 undergraduate and approximately 100 graduate programs. The main campus includes 104 buildings on 258 acres. It has come a long way since 1890.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Fargo History Project.
Accessed 8 August, 2014