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The University of North Dakota


The University of North Dakota was founded six years before North Dakota became a state. In 1883, the Territorial Legislature passed a bill that called for locating the university in Grand Forks. The University included only a few acres of land. Located two miles outside Grand Forks, it was surrounded by farms and fields.

The first classes were held on this date in 1884 with 8 students. The first building was Old Main. It housed all the offices, classrooms, and the library. More buildings were eventually added to accommodate the growing enrollment.

In 1918, the University suspended classes as the campus became a temporary army base. Soldiers trained there before being shipped to Europe.

During the Depression, students received free housing in exchange for manual labor. Students lived in railroad cabooses that they called “Camp Depression.” They worked around the campus, doing housekeeping, yard work, and minor construction. Meals were not included, but many Grand Forks citizens regularly invited students to their homes for meals.

Enrollment grew to over 3,000 after World War II. New housing and new academic buildings were added.

The 1960s and 70s saw many student protests. The largest protest involved 1,200 students upset over the shooting at Kent State in 1969.

By 1975, enrollment was at 8,500. The John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences was added in the 1970s.

In 1997, much of the school year was cancelled because of the Red River Flood.

Enrollment currently stands at over 15,000. The campus spreads over 548 acres. It is a far cry from the few acres and one building that started the school. Students can pursue studies in more than 200 academic fields including business, law, engineering, education, and medicine.

The state’s oldest university continues to grow in the 21st century. The Ralph Engelstad Arena opened in 2001 – the site of men’s and women’s hockey games. The Alerus Center also opened that year for the football team. In 2004 the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center opened. The Betty hosts volleyball and basketball. Other additions include a Wellness Center, a parking garage, the Energy and Environmental Research Center, and new housing.

UND’s economic contribution to North Dakota is enormous. It is estimated to be $1.3 billion per year. It is the second largest employer in the state after the Air Force.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Grand Forks Herald. 9 September, 1884.

University of North Dakota. "http://und.edu/" http://und.edu/ Accessed 5 July, 2014.

U.S. News and World Report. "http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com//best-colleges/university-of-north-dakota-3005" http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com//best-colleges/university-of-north-dakota-3005 Accessed 5 July, 2014.