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History of the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho opened its doors on Oct. 3, 1892, when it welcomed about 40 students and one professor, John Edwin Ostrander.

On June 11, 1896, the university graduated its first class when four students marched across a stage to receive their diplomas. Two years later, the university awarded its first graduate degree. By 1899, a growing body of University of Idaho alumni formed the Idaho Alumni Association.

Alumni numbers weren't all that grew in those early days. Over the next few years, the University of Idaho established its College of Agriculture, dedicated Ridenbaugh Hall and established the Pacific Northwest's first Department of Domestic Science (later to be called Home Economics).

The Administration Building fire in 1906 was a turning point in the university's history. John Tourtellotte, a Boise architect who had designed the state's capitol, designed a new Tudor Gothic structure to symbolize the university's growth and maturity as a major institution of higher education. The Administration Building remains the centerpiece of campus.

The hiring in 1908 of the nation's premier landscape architects, Olmsted Brothers of Massachusetts whose firm's founding father designed New York's Central Park, led to the small-town New England look of the campus.

President Theodore Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to visit the campus in 1911. He planted the first tree in Presidential Grove.

Through the next 50 years, the campus continued to grow in size and academic offerings. Among the additions were Forney Hall, the School of Education, Science Hall, Hays Hall, the Music Building, the Library, the Student Union and outreach campus locations.

In 1976, the new ASUI-Kibbie Dome won a national engineering structural achievement award. Its sound structure has withstood roaring cheers of Vandal fans (as well as the groans and occasional wailings of rival teams) ever since.

Today, the university is home to nearly 12,000 students and nearly 1,300 faculty and staff. It continues to be a leading place of learning in Idaho and the West, because although it is ever-responsive to the changing needs of its students and society, it never forgets its roots and traditions.

Perhaps no better example of this distinct combination of rich history and innovative service is the Associated Students of the University of Idaho (ASUI). Today as vibrant as ever, ASUI has been a force on campus for more than 100 years.