History of the University

A State, Land-Grant University

In 1862, Congress authorized states to sell federal land and use the proceeds to establish colleges that would provide education in agriculture, engineering and military training, as well as the traditional arts and sciences. The Arkansas General Assembly used the land grants to establish the Arkansas Industrial University, the first state-funded institution of higher learning and its only land-grant institution, later renamed the University of Arkansas.

Carnegie Classification

The Carnegie Foundation categorizes the University of Arkansas as a research institution with "very high research activity," placing the university among the top 2 percent of institutions nationwide and in a class by itself within the state of Arkansas. Research is integrated into both the graduate and many undergraduate programs as part of the learning experience.

An Economic Catalyst

The university community pursues its mission in three vital ways: education, research and outreach. The teaching of students is the most obvious way in which the university helps build economic security, but research and outreach are equally important components of maintaining and growing the economy of Arkansas and the nation. Education leads to research and research leads to invention, but invention is useless without its application to the world beyond the campus borders. Our students, faculty and staff work with communities across Arkansas, elsewhere in the nation and around the world to implement solutions to problems.

Historical Timeline

1871 – The legislature establishes Arkansas Industrial University, the first state university and only land-grant institution, at Fayetteville.

1872 – The first students attend classes on Jan. 22.

1875 – Construction of what is now known as Old Main finishes.

1879 – The School of Medicine is established at Little Rock.

1894 – Intercollegiate athletics begins at the university.

1897 – Students begin publication of The Cardinal yearbook, named in honor of the school colors and later renamed The Razorback.

1899 – Arkansas Industrial University changes its name to the University of Arkansas.

1905 – The College of Agriculture is established. The tradition of Senior Walk is started.

1906 – Students begin publishing The University Weekly, the university's first student newspaper and later renamed The Arkansas Traveler.

1910 – The university mascot is changed from the Cardinals to the Razorbacks.

1912 – The College of Liberal Arts, Sciences and Engineering is divided into the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. The College of Education, later to add Health Professions, also is established.

1914 – Arkansas and six other universities form the Southwest Athletic Conference.

1924 – The university establishes a School of Law at Fayetteville.

1926 – The College of Business Administration is established.

1935 – The university's first library building, Vol Walker Hall, is erected.

1948 – Without dissent or litigation, the university becomes the first Southern public institution to integrate during the modern era.

1952 – A School of Nursing is established at Fayetteville and a School of Pharmacy at Little Rock.

1959 – The Board of Trustees creates the Division of Agriculture to oversee administration of the Experiment Station and Extension Service.

1969 – The Division of Continuing Education is created.

1974 – The merger of several campuses across the state with the University of Arkansas creates the University of Arkansas System. The School of Architecture also is established.

1982 – The separate position of chancellor is created for the University of Arkansas campus.

1982 – The Engineering Research Center is established on land about a mile south of the main campus, becoming the foundation for creation of the Arkansas Research and Technology Park in 2001.

1986 – The Genesis Business Incubator is founded and housed at the Engineering Research Center. Its name is later changed to the Genesis Technology Incubator.

1991 – After major renovation, Old Main is rededicated to campus service.

2002 – The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation gives $300 million to the university, the largest single contribution to a public university ever, to establish an honors college and create endowments for the University Libraries and professorships.

2005 – The University of Arkansas finishes the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century, raising more than $1.04 billion, most of it for the university's endowment.