April 15, 2024  

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A Short History of Iowa State University

Iowa State University is one of the nation's oldest and most respected land-grant universities. Chartered by the Iowa General Assembly in 1858, the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm was designated the nation's first land-grant college when Iowa became the first state to accept the terms of the federal Morrill Act in 1864. The college opened in 1868-69 and a class of 26 was graduated at the first commencement in 1872. Graduate study was offered almost as soon as classes began, and the first graduate degree was conferred in 1877. The college was renamed Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1898, and became Iowa State University of Science and Technology in 1959. Today, Iowa State University is a broad-based university of international stature. Iowa State pioneered in the establishment of agricultural curricula, was the first state institution to found a veterinary school, and helped move engineering from a small and narrow profession to its present key position in our industrialized society. Coeducational from its beginning, Iowa State took leadership in domestic economy (later to become home economics). The modern Cooperative Extension Service system grew out of early Farmers' Institutes organized by Iowa State in the late 1800s. Iowa State also has developed nationally recognized programs in the physical sciences and engineering, and has emerged as an international leader in the field of materials science, due in large part to the establishment at Iowa State University of the Ames Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy. The electronic digital computer, one of the most important technological innovations of the 20th century, was invented at Iowa State in the late 1930s by John Vincent Atanasoff.

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