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Hoosier legacy

How IU has made history in education, sports since 1820

By Cameron Garber

garberc@iu.edu | @garber_cameron

IU began as a legislative act establishing a State Seminary for Indiana on Jan. 20, 1820. Construction for the first building started in 1822, and Professor Baynard Rush Hall was hired as the first professor in 1823. The first class was a group of 10 male students who enrolled in 1825 and graduated in 1830. During that time, the State Seminary was renamed Indiana College in 1828 and Indiana University in 1838.

In 1867, IU became one of the first state universities to admit women. That same year had the first publication of the Indiana Student, later renamed the Indiana Daily Student. Sarah Parke Morrison became the first female graduate in 1869.

IU’s men’s football team was founded in 1886, while the establishment of IU’s men’s basketball team was in 1896. 1892 saw the first publication of the Arbutus yearbook.,

Marcellus Neal graduated from IU in 1895, becoming the first Black male to graduate from the university. Neal, along with Frances Marshall, the first Black female IU graduate in 1919, are the namesakes of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. At the time of their enrollment, Black people were not allowed to live on campus. The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center and the Latino Cultural Center were established in 1973.

Herman B Wells became the 11th president of IU in 1938. Wells spent his tenure elevating the university’s research and educational facilities, such as supporting the Kinsey Institute and desegregating campus. Wells is commemorated on campus with the Herman B Wells Library and a statue outside the Dunn Woods.

IU conferred an honorary doctorate degree to journalist Enrie Pyle in 1944, the same year he won the Pulitzer Prize for covering the front lines of World War II. Pyle enrolled at IU in 1919 and served as editor at the IDS before dropping out. Pyle was killed on assignment in Ie Shima, an island to the west of Okinawa, in April 1945. Pyle is commemorated on campus with a statue outside Franklin Hall.

IU held the first Little 500 bicycle race in 1951, which became the basis for the Academy Award-winning screenplay for the 1979 film “Breaking Away.” The men’s basketball team won its second of five eventual NCAA championships in 1953.

IU is now one of the largest universities in the country, with an enrollment of more than 91 thousand students across all its campuses as of September 2021.

IDS FILE PHOTO BY ALEX PAUL Sample Gates are seen Oct. 24, 2021. The gates, constructed in 1987, serve both as an iconic IU landmark and as an entrance to campus from Kirkwood Avenue.