From its stately red-brick campus on the bluffs above the
Wabash River, Purdue University not only touches Lafayette
and West Lafayette, but also Indiana, the nation, and the
world with a vast spectrum of learning, discovery, and engagement.
As an educational, athletic, and entertainment magnet for
the northwest quarter of Indiana, Purdue draws hundreds of
thousands of people to the campus and community every year
for conferences, workshops, games, and events.
Visitors also enjoy simply strolling across the well-tended
campus with its welcoming green spaces — Purdue Mall,
Founders Park, Academy Park, and Memorial Mall. Spectacular
fountains on Purdue Mall and in Founders Park are a treat
for students and community residents alike. On Memorial Mall,
founding benefactor John Purdue is buried in front of University
Hall, the oldest building on campus.
With its academic and residential campuses, two golf courses,
recreational areas, and Horticulture Park, the West Lafayette
campus covers more than 2,300 acres with 159 principal
buildings and 377 total buildings.
Every day, Purdue fulfills its mission to the people of
Indiana. Whether through the Cooperative Extension Service
offices it operates in all 92 counties, the eight agricultural
research centers that cover the state, or the range of engagement
and service programs, Purdue helps teachers, farmers, manufacturers,
and business people do their jobs better and work smarter.
The sheer size of the Purdue enterprise makes it an economic
dynamo, with an estimated annual impact of more than $2.5 billion
on Indiana's economy. More than 18,200 people work
at Purdue campuses and facilities statewide, making the University
one of the state's largest employers. In West Lafayette,
Purdue employs almost 15,000 faculty and staff, by far
the community's largest employer with the greatest
impact. From residents' paychecks to student spending
and capital expenditures, Purdue has an estimated annual
impact on Tippecanoe County of more than $1.8 billion.
of the 25 largest universities in the nation, Purdue enjoys
worldwide acclaim for the quality of its teaching and research
in a wide range of fields. On the West Lafayette campus alone,
the University offers some 5,300 courses in more than 350
specializations, organized through 12 undergraduate colleges/schools
and the Graduate School. Approximately 38,700
students are enrolled at the West Lafayette campus, while
some 30,000 others pursue degree work at four regional campuses
and seven Statewide Technology sites. Its graduates — including
more than 384,000 living alumni around the globe — have explored the surface
of the moon, quarterbacked Super Bowl championship teams, excelled in a range of corporate, educational,
technical, and scientific pursuits, and even received a Nobel
That's a far cry from 1869, when Purdue was created amid the promise
of a bold new vision for American public higher education. The University is
Indiana's link among the nation's land-grant universities, tracing
its roots to the Morrill Act of 1862. In the Morrill Act, the federal government
offered to turn over public lands to any state that would use the proceeds
from their sale to maintain a college to teach agriculture and the mechanic
arts. In 1865, the Indiana General Assembly voted to participate in this new "land-grant" concept
and took steps to establish such an institution. Four years of wrangling ensued
about just where the new college would be located in the state. That issue
finally was settled on May 6, 1869, when the Legislature decided to locate
the new institution in what would become West Lafayette, accepting a donation
of 100 acres of land from local citizens and funds primarily from Lafayette
entrepreneur John Purdue. In appreciation of his gift, Indiana legislators
named the institution Purdue University.
Its earliest days were filled with the trials and uncertainties of creating
a university from the ground up. It took five years to develop courses, hire
faculty, and build a modest cluster of brick buildings on what used to be
fields and pastures, and where Kickapoo braves had stalked game long ago. On
September 16, 1874, six instructors welcomed 39 students to
the first day of classes — and the institution came to life, forever
changing the face of the Lafayette-West Lafayette area and the lives of the
people the University serves.
Purdue continues to grow and improve every day as it strives for preeminence.
Nearly $600,000,000 worth of new construction and
renovation is under way or scheduled to occur during the first five years
of the new millennium. Foremost is the development of Discovery Park, where
Purdue expects to become a world leader in nanotechnology and
Visitors to the campus are invited to begin with a stop at the Visitor
Information Center, 504 Northwestern Ave., or its information desk near
the Great Hall on the main floor of Purdue Memorial Union, at the corner
of State and Grant streets.