NDSU History

In 1883, S. G. Roberts (member of the Dakota Territorial Council) convinced his fellow representatives to draft and pass bills that would allow the northern portion of Dakota Territory to create a penitentiary, "insane" hospital, and an agricultural college. The bills passed and Fargo was chosen to house the agricultural college, but the Territorial Legislature provided no funding for the creation of such a school. Funding was again denied in 1885 due to a large number of schools receiving tax money and the University of North Dakota being located eighty miles north of the agricultural college's proposed location. During the Constitutional Convention of 1889, a Bismarck-Fargo block decided that the Agricultural College would be located in Fargo and the state capital would be located in Bismarck. To smooth over hard feelings with Valley City, who was also in the running for the location of the Agricultural College, the Bismarck-Fargo block saw to it that the city received a teachers college. The bill creating the North Dakota Agricultural College was passed and signed into law by Governor John Miller on March 8, 1890. The first meeting of the Board of Trustees was on May 1, 1890. The following article appeared in the Daily Argus, May 2, 1890: "At the meeting of the Fargo Agricultural College board yesterday afternoon the following members were present: J. B. Power of Power, E. M. Upson of Cummings, M. Saunderson of Edgeley, and O. W. Francis of Fargo. Mr. Francis ws elected president and J. B. Power, secretary. After organization the situation was discussed and steps taken to obtain for the college the $15,000 to be given by the government for an experiment station. The board adjourned until the fifteenth." On the fifteenth, the board established an experiment station. "Forty acres on the Lowell farm, one half mile south of the city, have been secured. Buildings will be secured in the city." (Daily Argus, May 16, 1890) Clare B. Waldron, a botanist, was the first staff member hired to collect and classify grasses, plants, and soils of North Dakota. He arrived on July 19, 1890 and for the next three months he was the only staff member of the college or experiment station. The Agricultural College's first home was in the basement and main floor of Jones Hall at Fargo College (affiliated with the Congregational Church, opened in 1887 and closed in 1922). Later, a class in domestic economy was offered in a farm house located at the corner of Tenth Avenue and Seventh Street North. On April 18, 1891 the Agricultural College secured Section 36, Fargo Township as its home. The founders, first faculty members and others had great plans for the College. The approval of the first budget and the confirmation of the president (Horace E. Stockbridge) and the first three faculty (Henry L. Bolley, Edwin F. Ladd, and Clare Bailey Waldron) on October 15, 1890, mark the real beginnings of North Dakota Agricultural College (NDAC). Until the first building was built (Old Main), six rooms were leased from Fargo College. A provisional course of instruction was first given on January 6, 1891, although the first regular class of students was not admitted until September 8, 1891. (First Biennial Report, December 1892, p. 5; North Dakota Agricultural College, First Annual Catalogue, May 1892, p. 4 "The North Dakota Agricultural College is a state and national institution, belonging to the group of so-called land-grant colleges of the country, owing their existence to the provisions of the act of Congress, approved July 2, 1862, whereby grants of public lands were made to each of the states and territories for the purpose of endowing in each `at least one college whose leading object shall be, without excluding other classical and scientific studies, and including military tactics - to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in order to promote the liberal education of the industrial classes and professions of life.’" (North Dakota Agricultural College, First Annual Catalogue, May 1892) This "First Annual Catalogue" also defines the character and design of the institution, as well as its objective: "'The design of the institution is to afford practical instruction in agriculture and the natural sciences connected therewith, and also the sciences which bear directly upon all industrial arts and pursuits. The course of instruction shall embrace the English language and literature, mathematics, military tactics, civil engineering, agricultural chemistry, animal and vegetable anatomy and physiology, the veterinary art, entomology, geology, and such other natural sciences as may be prescribed. Political, rural and household economy, horticulture, moral philosophy history, bookkeeping, and especially the application of science and the mechanic arts to practical agriculture in the field. A full course of study in the institution shall embrace not less than four years, and the college year shall consist of not less that nine calendar months.'" … Further, "'the object of this institution is not the making of farmers, but rather the making of men and women, and then so to equip them that, if their inclinations draw them toward the farm, their efforts there may be reasonably expected to be attended by success. It is not the intention, however, to limit or restrict the capabilities of students, and while the curriculum is made sufficiently rigid to enforce the principles on which the work of the institution is founded, abundant scope is given by means of electives for the display of individual preferences and the development of personal abilities.'" In 1892, College Hall, the first building on campus, was completed (today called 'Old Main'), and contained classes, offices, and laboratories for the faculty, a room for the library, an uncompleted upper floor used as a gymnasium, the office of the President, and an enrollment of eighty. Unofficially, the students had been referring to the school as "North Dakota State College" since the early In November of 1958, a name change to North Dakota State University was placed on the state-wide ballot and lost by a narrow margin.  Not to be deterred, a 15-member committee formed statewide that worked toward the placement of an amendment on the November 1960 ballot.   On November 8th of 1960 the name change was approved 2-1 vote. This effort was in no large part due to the phenomenal effort of NDAC staff, faculty, students and alumni.   On December 8, 1960, North Dakota Agricultural College officially became North Dakota State University NDSU's current enrollment is over 13,000 students, with over 650 resident faculty members.  NDSU offers over 100 undergraduate and approximately 100 graduate programs of study, with degrees awarded at the doctoral, master's, professional, and baccalaureate levels.  Various undergraduate minors and certificate programs are also available.  NDSU's research expenditures surpass $100 million annually.  NDSU's main campus encompasses 104 buildings on nearly forty-one square blocks or 258 total acres, 5.8 miles of streets and 16.7 miles of sidewalks and has continued its expansion into downtown Fargo.   In all, NDSU is located on 22,053 acres of North Dakota land. (NDSU 2008-2010 Undergraduate Bulletin).