Purdue traces its roots to
the signing of the Morrill Act by President Lincoln
on July 2, 1862. Three years later, the General Assembly
of Indiana voted to take advantage of public lands available
under this act to support colleges to teach agriculture
and the "mechanic arts." John Purdue donated
land and money for Purdue in 1869. Six instructors taught
39 students when school opened on September 16, 1874.
The first president, Richard Owen, worked out the University's
structure. The first graduating class had 14 students.
Enrollment now comprises nearly 38,000 students on the
West Lafayette campus and 21,000 on the regional campuses.
Originally, Purdue had only six buildings. Today, the
West Lafayette campus contains more than 158 major buildings
on 1,579 acres. In addition, nearly 15,000 acres in
the state are under university control and are used
for agricultural research. Diversified research is conducted in some 400 labs. There
are more than 12,000 faculty and staff on the West Lafayette
campus. Purdue's yearbook, The Debris, was
first published in 1887 and Purdue's newspaper,
The Exponent, was first published in 1889.
Seal In March 1968, Al Gowen presented the
fifth seal to be used by the University. The seal features
a griffin, the mythological beast with the head of an
eagle and the body of a lion, behind a shield and the
words "Purdue University." The griffin is
a symbol of strength from medieval heraldry. The three-part
shield represents the mission of Purdue University:
discovery, learning, and engagement.
1872 – 1874
1874 – 1875
1876 – 1883
1900 – 1921
Edward C. Elliot
1922 – 1945
1971 – 1982
Steven C. Beering
1983 – 2000
Martin C. Jischke
2000 – 2007
France A. Cordova
2007 - Present
of Trustees A 10-member board governs the university.
This board decides major policies, budgets, and makes
appointments, including that of the university president.
Seven members, including one student, are appointed
directly by the Governor of Indiana, while the Purdue
Alumni Association elects the other three.
The traditional story: In 1889 two new
football coaches, discouraged by the scrawny volunteers
for football, hired several husky boilermakers from
the Monon railroad, as well as a few burly policemen.
After being enrolled in one course, these men set out
to play football and won game after game. Incensed Crawfordsville
newspaper writers wrote uncomplimentary stories, calling
the team "Sluggers, Cornfield Sailors, Haymakers,
and Boilermakers." The last name struck the fancy
of Purdue students and has been the nickname ever since.
Special The Boilermaker Special train is the official
mascot of Purdue and is kept in the custody of the Purdue
Reamer Club. It is used to announce current campus events.
The idea for the Special began with an article in the
Exponent by Isreal Silkowitz. The completed Special
was presented on September 11, 1940. The number on the
headlamp, 074041, is composed of important dates. The
07 is the year that Doc Anderson and W.H. Winterrowd
helped to construct the body for the Special. The 40
and 41 represent the members of those classes and the
Reamer Club members who dedicated their time, energy,
and money. Since then, there have been three other Specials.
The fifth Boilermaker Special was completed in the fall
of 1993. A smaller version of the Boilermaker Special,
built on the chassis of a golf cart, is called the "Boilermaker
Colors The Purdue colors, Old Gold and Black,
were adopted in 1887, the first year of Purdue football.
It was decided that colors were needed to achieve distinction,
and it was the captain of the football team that year
who proposed the colors.
Purdue's Grave John Purdue, who gave $150,000 for the
founding of Purdue University, asked that he be buried
on the campus after his death. Consenting to his wish,
the university interned his remains in a grave just
east of University Hall where he is today. One piece
of folklore says that Indiana University and/or Purdue
University students once dug him up and took him to
an Old Oaken Bucket game.
Hall Built in 1876, University Hall is the
oldest building on campus. John Purdue initiated construction
of the building, although he did not live to see its
completion. It was first used three years after the
start of classes at Purdue and, in its early days, it
housed the President's offices, the library, and a chapel.
It was remodeled and renovated in the early 1960's.
It now contains offices and classrooms for the departments
of Political Science and History.
Memorial Union In 1912, a $5 assessment was made of each
member of the senior class for the purpose of securing
a home for student, alumni and faculty activities. George
Hays was responsible for the initial effort. Before
World War I broke out, $17,000 had been collected. On
November 16, 1918, O.H. Booner, an alumnus, suggested
the erection of the Union building in honor of the Purdue
students who had participated in the Great War. A subscription
plan was started in 1919 for this purpose. Construction
began in 1922 and the building was ready for partial
use by September 1924. Estimated present worth of the
building and equipment exceeds $6 million.
Hall The Great Hall is located in the center
front of the Union. Sixty-seven students were killed
in World War I and are commemorated by the cross on
the floor of the Great Hall. In respect for those students,
no one is to step on the cross of the Great Hall.
Felix Haas Hall (Memorial
Gym) On October 31, 1903, thirteen Boilermaker
football players and four fans were killed in a train collision
outside of Indianapolis while on their way to
an IU-Purdue football game . The Memorial Gym was built
and dedicated in 1909 as a tribute to these individuals.
Indiana University donated the money from the advance
ticket sales for the game as a gesture of friendship,
and also played a benefit game with Notre Dame to raise
money for the gym. It is traditional to bare one's head
before entering the building, in memory of those to
whom the gym is dedicated.
Hall of Music Elliott Hall of Music, completed in 1940,
was designed by Walter Scholer, longtime Lafayette architect
and consultant for Purdue University. J. Andre Fouilhoux,
designer of New York's Radio City Music Hall, served
as the consulting architect and the two buildings show
striking similarity in design. Both use an art deco
motif, feature wide staircases ascending to the auditorium,
use cantilevered balconies, and contain wide, mammoth
main floors. John Johnson, a Frankfort, Indiana artist
created the impressive sculptures that grace the sides
of the building. The three figures represent music,
drama, and forensics, the main activities for which
the building was built. The building remains one of
the largest proscenium auditoriums in the country. It
seats 6,500 people.
Fountain The Class of 1903 donated the "Lion
Fountain" Memorial to the university as a drinking
fountain. It was completed in the fall of 1904. The
fountain was turned off and the drains plugged when
the statue was relocated for the construction of Stanley
Coulter Annex somewhere between 1923 and 1931. Due to
funds raised by the Reamer Club, water connections to
the fountain were restored in 2001.
Fountain The Loeb Fountain was originally located
on the Purdue Mall in front of Hovde Hall. It was built
in the summer of 1959 to honor Solomen Loeb, a local
merchant, with money donated by Bert and June Loeb.
It is made of granite with 53 red, yellow, and blue
lights in three circles. In recent years the fountain
was relocated to a plaza near Beering Hall.
Fountain The Engineering Fountain is located in
the Purdue Mall, informally known as the Engineering
Mall, in front of Hovde Hall. It was sculpted by Robert
Youngman and completed in 1989 with money donated by
the Class of 1939. It was dedicated during Homecoming
Tower Purdue's Bell Tower was built with donations
from the Class of 1948. The bells that now hang in a
cluster in the center of the tower are the original
bells (provided by the class of 1895) that hung in the
old Heavilon Hall before it was destroyed in a fire.
They sound at various intervals during the day to signal
class changes, and play music at 12:20 and 5:00 pm.
The Bell Tower was dedicated at Homecoming on October
14, 1995, and now stands as a guiding landmark on campus.
Pump Originally used by farmers during the
1860's, the Old Pump, now located at the southeast corner
of Stone Hall, is a campus landmark. According to tradition,
the pump was used by early Purdue students as a campus
meeting place. The hours for Purdue's women to be in
the ladies residence halls were very early in the evening,
but the co-eds were allowed to go out after hours for
water from the pump, which was located between the men's
and women's halls. The men of Purdue often used this
opportunity to meet with their sweethearts. Today the
pump symbolizes romance, friendship, and the spirit
Fence The iron rail fence along Grant Street
was a stretch along which students would congregate
for a smoke during the old days when smoking was forbidden
on campus. They would lean over the fence and while
"off-campus" smoke without breaking the rules.
Marker The Purdue Centennial Marker is located
in front of the Materials Science and Electrical Engineering
Building along Northwestern Avenue. It was dedicated
in 1969 during the Purdue Centennial Celebration and
displays Purdue's crest, which was specifically designed
for the centennial. Beneath this marker a sealed copper
box, containing Purdue artifacts from 1969 (including
a letter from then-President Hovde to Purdue's president
in 2069), is buried under nearly a foot of concrete.
of the Land Grant College This mural, located in the west lobby
of Stewart Center, was painted by Eugene Stewart. In
the painting, which symbolizes a dramatic moment in
the history of Purdue University, President Lincoln
signs the Morrill Act. The golden rays of the sun lead
into the areas of education upon which Purdue focuses,
and the far right represents the wealth and power that
Purdue graduates will attain.