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MSU Timeline


February 12, 1855


May 13, 1857

First classes

May 14, 1857 – Five faculty members taught 63 students in three now nonexistent buildings (College Hall, Saint’s Rest, and a brick horse barn).

Morrill Act

1862 – MSU was the nation’s pioneer land-grant university and the prototype for the entire land-grant system created when President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862. The act granted lands to each loyal state to support a college “where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical 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 and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.”

Name changes

  • 1855 – Agricultural College of the State of Michigan
  • 1861 – State Agricultural College
  • 1909 – Michigan Agricultural College
  • 1925 – Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science
  • 1955 – Michigan State University of Agriculture and Applied Science
  • 1964 – Michigan State University

Governing body changes

  • 1855 – State Board of Education
  • 1861 – State Board of Agriculture
  • 1959 – Board of Trustees