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,
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 nearly 2,500 acres with 150 principal 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. About 16,500 people work at
Purdue campuses and facilities statewide, making the University
one of the state's largest employers. In Greater Lafayette,
Purdue employs more than 14,050 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 $1.5 billion.
As one 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 5,700 courses in
more than 200 specializations, organized through 12 undergraduate
schools and the Graduate School. Approximately 38,500 students
are enrolled at the West Lafayette campus, while some 30,000
others pursue degree work at four regional campuses and 10
Statewide Technology sites. Its graduates — including
more than 350,000 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
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 Greater Lafayette community and the
lives of the people the University serves.
Purdue continues to grow and improve every day as it strives
for preeminence. More than a half billion dollars 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 nanosciences.
Visitors to the campus are invited to begin with a stop at
the Visitor Information Center, 504 Northwestern Ave., or
its information kiosk in the Great Hall on the main floor
of Purdue Memorial Union, at the corner of State and Grant