What is now Iowa State University was originally set up by the state legislature as an agricultural college and model farm in 1858. Land was purchased for close to $5,400 the following year. The farmhouse building (now a museum that is said to be haunted) was completed in 1861.
The first official student cohort arrived in 1969. The institution was co-educational from the start, with two women among the first 26 graduates in 1872. It has now grown from such humble origins to cater to about 27,000 students at any one time.
Iowa Agricultural College (which became Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts as of 1898), was established on the principles of a land grant university, which stress accessibility and the teaching of the liberal arts alongside more immediately practical subjects. These founding ideals are still reflected in a range of more than 100 majors branching out from agriculture to cover most of the sciences and the arts.
Iowa State was already a pioneer in 1879, when it set up the first state school of veterinary medicine in the US. It acquired its current title, Iowa State University of Science and Technology, in 1949 to reflect its excellence in research and strong focus on technological innovation. Notable inventions that took place on campus include the Atanasoff–Berry computer (or ABC), the world’s first binary computer.
Among the well-known alumni of ISU are its first black student (and later its first black faculty member), former slave George Washington Carver, who went on to become a prominent botanist and inventor; and astronaut Clayton Anderson.