The University of Idaho was founded 132 years ago on January 30, 1889. Idaho Governor Edward A. Stevenson signed the Territorial Legislature’s Council Bill No. 20 which established the University of Idaho.1
This would not have been possible if President Abraham Lincoln had not signed the Morrill Act on July 2, 1862 which established federal support through land grants for higher education.2 One of the oldest buildings on campus, Morrill Hall, was named after Representative Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, whose named adorns the 1862 bill that President Lincoln signed to provide funds for a series of land-grant college. Representative Morrill fought for this bill for many years, which lead to it becoming known as the Morrill Act. Consequently, it is not uncommon to see a landmark or building named for Morrill on land-grant campuses.3
Morrill Hall was originally constructed as the University’s agriculture building. It became the Forestry Building in 1950, but was eventually returned to being called Morrill Hall and presently houses the College of Graduate Studies.4
Another one of the original buildings of the University of Idaho campus was the Administration Building. There have been two versions of the Administration Building on campus because the original one, built in 1891-1892, was destroyed in a fire on March 30, 1906. In 1896, the first four graduates of University of Idaho received their degrees in the Old Admin auditorium.5
The first undergraduate degrees were awarded to four students in the first graduating Class of 1896. The first African American student at the University, Jennie Eva Hughes, graduated as part of the Class of 1899.
The University of Idaho has a rich history of it’s first 132 years and here’s to another 132 years to come!