American Football Database
American Football Database
Illinois State University
Seal of Illinois State University
MottoGladly We Learn and Teach
Endowment$88.4 million[1]
PresidentAlvin Bowman
ProvostSheri Noren Everts
Admin. staff3,563
LocationNormal, Illinois, United States
CampusUrban 140 Buildings,
1,000 acres (404.7 ha)
ColorsRed and White
SportsNCAA Division I-FCS
MascotReggie Redbird

Illinois State University (ISU), founded in 1857, is the oldest public university in Illinois, United States; it is located in the town of Normal. ISU is considered a "national university" that grants a variety of doctoral degrees and strongly emphasizes research. ISU is also recognized as one of the top ten largest producers of teachers in the US according to the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.[2][3] The ISU athletic teams are members of the Missouri Valley Conference and the Missouri Valley Football Conference and are known as the "Redbirds," in reference to the state bird, the cardinal.


Illinois State University's campus is in the twin-city community of Bloomington-Normal near the geographic center of the state, 137 miles southwest of Chicago and 164 miles northeast of St. Louis. Interstates 74, 55, and 39; U.S. Route 150; and Illinois Route 9 intersect in loomington-Normal, creating a transportation hub. An Amtrak passenger station is just two blocks from the University.[4]


ISU was founded as a training school for teachers in 1857, the same year Illinois' first Board of Education was convened and two years after the Free School Act was passed by the State Legislature. Among its supporters were judge and future Supreme Court Justice, David Davis and local businessman and land holder Jesse W. Fell whose friend, Abraham Lincoln, was the attorney hired by the Board of Education to draw up legal documents to secure the school's funding[5][6] Founded as Illinois State Normal University, its name was reflective of its primary mission as a teacher training institution (at that time called a normal school). Classes were initially held in downtown Bloomington, occupying space in Major's Hall, which was previously the site of Lincoln's "Lost Speech". With the completion of Old Main in 1860, the school moved to its current campus in what was then the village of North Bloomington, which was chartered as "Normal" in 1865. The new town had named itself after the university.


Old Main, c. 1860

In 1964 as the institution expanded and moved toward a full liberal arts curriculum, its name was changed to Illinois State University at Normal, and in 1968, to Illinois State University.[7]

In accordance with its mission, the school's motto was originally "and gladly wold he lerne and gladly teche," in the Middle English spelling of Geoffrey Chaucer which has since been updated to modern English in the gender-neutral form "Gladly we Learn and Teach."

Academics and organizations

Though originally a teachers' college, ISU has grown into a university offering a range of programs at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels.

Academic Colleges

  • College of Applied Science and Technology
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Education
  • College of Fine Arts
  • Mennonite College of Nursing


Illinois State is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The teacher preparation programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and are certified by the Illinois State Board of Education. In addition, 22 programs hold discipline-based accreditation.[4] Illinois State University was ranked 156th out of the 204 ranked National Universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2013.[8] Illinois State also ranked #255 out of 281 national universities in the US by Washington Monthly, making it the lowest ranked of the national universities in Illinois.[9] Forbes magazine ranks Illinois State #421 out of 650 American colleges.[10]


As of the fall of 2012, total enrollment at Illinois State University was reported as 20,502, with 18,207 undergraduate students and 2,295 graduate students. The majority of students (55.6%) are female. 16.5% of all students were from minority groups. 382 international students from 66 countries are enrolled. The average new beginning student had an ACT score of 23.7.[11]

The Quad


John W. Cook Hall on the quad's west side

The Illinois State University campus quadrangle is compact compared with other large universities, with buildings spaced closely together around a rectangular center lawn.

The Quad is a popular site for small special events including movies and concerts and Festival ISU, where campus organizations set up tables with games, prizes, and information about their organizations. Lined with benches and shady trees, the site is a popular spot for students to relax, study, and play informal games of sports.

The ISU Quad is also host to the Fell Arboretum, which is part of a 490-acre site that represents over 154 species of tree. The Fell Arboretum has won the Tree Campus USA award in 2008.[12]

Milner Library

File:Milner Library.jpg

Milner Library

Milner Library contains a collection of more than 1.5 million volumes and an ever-increasing number of electronic materials accessible via the Internet to students and faculty. The library's collection is distinguished by materials related to educational theory and policy, curriculum development, and issues related to special education and assistive technology. The Special Collections include extensive Circus and Allied Arts materials and a children's literature collection that features more than 100 first edition volumes signed by author Lois Lenski. Milner Library is also a selective federal depository for government information. Combined Milner's collections contribute to the university's relatively high standing in regional, national, and world rankings. In 2007, the library received the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award, an award given to only seven libraries nationwide.

Milner Library administers the Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield University Archives, which houses selected official records from university departments and organizations, faculty and student publications and local history materials including a collection from the Adlai Stevenson family. The archives also houses an Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD).

Additional library facilities include book storage both on and off-site as well as a preservation department.

The Milner Library was named for Angeline "Ange" Vernon Milner (1856–1928), a Bloomington-Normal native and the first full-time librarian of Illinois State Normal University. Milner is credited with organizing the university's initial collection of more than 40,000 items and was a prolific author of more than seventy articles and short monographs in library and education journals during her tenure as University Librarian from 1890 to 1927. The current library building, the third in the university's history, opened in 1976.

University residence halls

Illinois State University currently provides ten residence halls that house about 6,000 students. Administered by the ISU's Office of Residential Life, these facilities include lifestyle floors that serve communities of residents with shared interests.


Watterson Towers is not only the largest residence hall on campus, it is also one of the tallest student residence halls in the world, and provides the highest vantage point in Illinois between Chicago and St. Louis.[13][14] Watterson features areas for wellness, quiet, substance-free, and restricted visitation. Built between 1968 and 1970, the facility is named for Arthur W. Watterson, a geography faculty member and chair. Watterson went through a massive renovation from March 2010 through August 2012.

East Campus

Hewett and Manchester Hall are located in East Campus. Both are majorly coed, with specialty floors as single-gender. Until recently, Hewett was all-female. Each have floors for Art, Business, Communication, Co-Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction, Geo-Environmental, Honors, Information Technology, Math, Music, Service and Leadership, Substance-Free, Quiet, and International House. These dorms were recently renovated in 2008–09. During this renovation the old dining center located in basement in between each hall was transformed into the Julia N. Visor Center. Built in 1966, they were named for Edwin C. Hewett, the third University president, and Orson L. Manchester, Illinois State Normal University dean from 1911 to 1928.

File:Hewett Hall.jpg

Manchester Hall and the Vrooman Center

West Campus

Haynie, Wilkins, and Wright Hall are located in West Campus, adjacent to Redbird Arena and Hancock Stadium. Also known as "The Tri Towers", they feature floors for ROTC, Wellness, Substance-Free, and Quiet. These halls are the most remote residence facilities on campus and are known for housing a majority of athletes because of their close proximity to practice areas. They were built in 1962 and named for Martha D.L. Haynie, the first female Illinois State Normal University professor, Daniel Wilkins, principal of the Female School Institute of Bloomington in the 1850s, and Simeon Wright, one of the University's founders.


Haynie, Wilkins and Wright Hall

In 2012, the university opened the new Cardinal Court Apartments. These replaced an earlier complex by the same name and on the same site that had been built in 1959. Much like the old Cardinal Court, the new Cardinal Court provides apartment-style living combined with the benefits of university housing. Besides simply being more modern than the old complex, the primary difference from the older complex is that the old Cardinal Court had been reserved for married couples and graduate students.[15]

South Campus

Until recently, there were several residence halls in what has been known as "South Campus". There are no longer any students housed in the area now, and the buildings have either been demolished or decommissioned. Those buildings still extant are under consideration for repurposing, possibly for administrative purposes.

Hamilton and Whitten Hall (aka "Ham-Whit) shared a joint entrance and front desk. They featured lifestyle floors such as Upper-class and Graduate, Student Nursing, and Speech Pathology and Audiology. Constructed in 1959, the facility was named for Alma H. Hamilton, the first recipient of an Illinois State Normal University bachelor degree, and Jennie Whitten, the former head of the Foreign Language Department.


Hamilton-Whitten Residence Hall and Feeny Dining Center

Atkin and Colby Hall, though built later than "Ham-Whit", were essentially a mirror image of the former, and shared a dining center with the same. Originally built in 1962 as female-only dorms, they were later converted to co-ed. They were named for Edith Irene Atkin, Illinois State Normal University mathematics professor from 1909–1940 and June Rose Colby, English professor from 1892–1932.

Three residence halls, Dunn, Barton, and Walker Hall, were demolished in 2008 to provide space for the Student Fitness, Kinesiology and Recreation Center.

Student life

The school publishes two newspapers, The Daily Vidette and The Indy, the latter being an alternative weekly publication.

ISU owns a public radio station WGLT ("News, Blues and All That Jazz"), which broadcasts on 89.1 in Normal, 103.5 in Peoria, and by streaming audio. The call letters are from keywords of the school's motto: "Gladly-Learn-Teach." and maintains a student radio station, WZND. On January 20, 2010 WZND changed its format from a dual format (Rock and Jamz) to a college shuffle format. The station broadcasts on channels 4 & 5 in the residence halls and on the web. TV-10, a part of the School of Communication, provides the only live local television newscast produced entirely in Bloomington-Normal.

Illinois State University also boasts one of the largest student spirit organizations in the United States, RED ALERT. This registered student organization has over 4,100 members, roughly one fourth of the student body. The group was founded in 2006 to promote student involvement in university athletics and has grown exponentially.[16]

ISU is also the home of the Gamma Phi Circus, the oldest collegiate circus in the world, founded in 1929.[17] It is one of two collegiate circuses in the US; the other is run by Florida State University.

The Student Government Association at Illinois State University is a unique governing body for the ISU Student Body. It is unique in that it sends 21 voting student members to serve on the Academic Senate which is composed of student, faculty, staff, and administrators. This place in the shared governance of the University is rare among universities giving ISU Students a major voice on campus.

Greek life

Illinois State's Greek community was established in 1967. About 13% of the population participates in Greek life. Greek organizations provide students with a wide range of academic, social, and leadership opportunities.

Greek organizations

Fraternities Social: Alpha Epsilon Pi Alpha Sigma Phi Delta Chi, Farmhouse, Delta Sigma Phi, Alpha Tau Omega, Alpha Gamma Rho, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Tau Gamma, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Pi Kappa Alpha, Phi Kappa Psi, Gamma Iota Sigma,Acacia (Colony)

Social/Cultural: Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Psi Lambda, Iota Phi Theta, Sigma Lambda Beta, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma

Professional/Music: Delta Omicron, Pi Sigma Epsilon, Farmhouse, Phi Mu Alpha, Alpha Kappa Psi, Delta Sigma Pi, Gamma Iota Sigma

Service: Alpha Phi Omega,

Sororities Social: Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Delta Pi, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Gamma Phi Beta, Gamma Phi Beta, Phi Sigma Sigma, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Zeta, Zeta Tau Alpha, Sigma Gamma Rho, Ceres, Pi Beta Phi

Social/Cultural: Delta Phi Lambda, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta

Service: Epsilon Sigma Alpha

Music: Tau Beta Sigma, Sigma Alpha Iota, Delta Omicron, Phi Mu Alpha

Nationally ranked teams

The ISU Forensics Individual Events team is one of the most successful forensics individual events teams in the country. In 1995, 1999,[18] and 2000 it won the National Forensic Association team championship and in 2005 its team won the American Forensic Association team championship.[19] Illinois State has been selected as the host of the 2011 NFA National Championship. Famous alumni include Nelsan Ellis of HBO's True Blood.[20]


The Student Fitness Center and Kinesiology and Recreation building completed in 2011

The Illinois state co-ed cheerleading team has competed at both NCA and UCA nationals in co-ed Division 1. In 2002 they placed 2nd in the nation in co-ed Division 1 at UCA nationals in Orlando, FL. In 2001 they placed 3rd in the nation in co-ed division 1 at UCA nationals in Orlando, FL. They have appeared on ESPN and in American Cheerleader Magazine.

The Illinois State Club Baseball team was ranked No. 18 in the country in the spring of 2010 for much of the year, but ultimately finished second in the Great Lakes South Conference behind the University of Illinois. The Redbirds compiled a 15–5 overall record, including 9–4 in conference.[21]


Horton Field House

The Illinois State University Mock Trial Team has enjoyed continue success since its inception in 1987. The team competes in intercollegiate tournaments sponsored by AMTA (American Mock Trial Association). In 2004, they won the National Championship after defeating Gonzaga University in the final round. The team is consistently ranked as a top 5 team in the Midwest.


The school's fight song is "Go, You Redbirds", a song written specifically for ISU and frequently played at sporting events. The Alma Mater song, also played at sporting events from time to time, is "Glory Hast Thou," written to the tune of Haydn's "Austrian Hymn," and better known as the tune used for "Deutschlandlied," the German national anthem.

Folklore and legends

The ghost of Angeline Vernon Milner, the university's first librarian, is said to haunt the former library building, now called Williams Hall. Built in 1940, the building was named in honor of Milner who served as University Librarian from 1890 until her retirement in 1927. Beginning in the 1990s, personnel working in the book storage and archives facilities formerly housed in Williams Hall reported encounters with what they believe to be ghost of Milner.[22][23][24][25][26]

Notable alumni and faculty

The Illinois State University Alumni Center, located at 1101 N. Main in Normal, is designed to serve over 170,000 alumni of Illinois State University, as well as current students, faculty/staff, and the Bloomington/Normal community.[27]

Notable Illinois State University faculty include:

  • John Wesley Powell - Professor 1867 - 1872. Famous for the 1869 three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado rivers that included the first known passage through the Grand Canyon.
  • Will Robinson (basketball) - Head Basketball Coach 1970 - 1975. Robinson was the first African-American head coach in NCAA Division I. His best player during that time was Doug Collins, the #1 pick in the 1973 NBA Draft.
  • David Foster Wallace - Professor 1993-2002. An award-winning American novelist, short story writer, essayist.

University Presidents

  • Charles E. Hovey (1857–1862)
  • Richard Edwards (1862–1876)
  • Edwin C. Hewett (1876–1890)
  • John W. Cook (1890–1899)
  • Arnold Tompkins (1899–1900)
  • David Felmley (1900–1930)
  • Harry A. Brown (1930–1933)
  • Raymond W. Fairchild (1933–1955)
  • Robert G. Bone (1956–1967)
  • Samuel J. Braden (1967–1970)
  • David K Berlo (1971–1973)
  • Gene Budig (1973–1977)
  • Lloyd Watkins (1977–1988)
  • Thomas Wallace (1988–1995)
  • David Strand (1995–1999)
  • Victor Boschini Jr. (1999–2003)
  • Al Bowman (2004 – 2012)

Points of interest


The historic Eyestone School with Redbird Arena in the background.

  • Fell Arboretum
  • Constitution Trail
  • Bowling and Billiard Center
  • Redbird Arena
  • Bone Student Center
  • Normal Public Library
  • Milner Library
  • Illinois State University Planetarium
  • Student Fitness and Kinesiology Recreation Building
  • University Galleries
  • John W. Cook Hall
  • University High School (Normal)
  • Hancock Stadium


File:Illinois State University main quadrangle.jpg

Illinois State University quadrangle, Felmley Hall of Science

File:Illinois State University campus at dusk.jpg

College of Business Building, Watterson Towers at sunset

File:Fell Hall2.jpg

Illinois State University, Fell Hall

File:Moulton Hall.jpg

Illinois State University, Moulton Hall

  1. As of January 17, 2012. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2011 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2010 to FY 2011" (PDF). 2012 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
  2. "College of Education, Illinois State University". Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  3. Poshard, Glenn (September, 2007). "A Message To Alumni From SIU President Glenn Poshard". Southern Alumni.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Quick Facts
  5. Inaugural Meeting of the Board of Regents, Illinois State University, April 1967.
  6. Illinois State University. "A Concise History of the University." Accessed April 9, 2011.
  7. Illinois State University. "A Concise History of the University." Accessed March 21, 2011.
  8. "National University Rankings | Top National Universities | US News Best Colleges". Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  9. "Washington Monthly. (2010). National Rankings". Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  10. Forbes.
  11. "Illinois State University "Quick Facts"". Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  12. "Fell Arboretum – Illinois State University". May 14, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  13. Wattersons Believe it or not... – Features
  14. Bloomington-Normal Community – Illinois State University[dead link]
  15. Cardinal Court
  16. []
  17. "Illinois State University Circus". Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  18. "NFA National Tournament: Team and Individual Champs 1990–1999". Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  19. "Afa-Niet National Champions". Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  20. "1999 NFA Interpretation Elim Rounds". Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  21. "Home – Illinois State Club Baseball". Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  22. "Western Illinois University at the Legends and Lore of Illinois".
  23. Angie Milner: The Woman, the Librarian, the Ghost." The Vidette Oct. 27, 2004
  24. Favorite Haunt; National Cable Show to Tell ISU Ghost Story." The Pantagraph Oct. 22, 2004
  25. Library's Founder said to Haunt Stacks." The Pantagraph Oct. 30, 2000
  26. Milner Played Great Role in Developing ISU Library." The Pantagraph Oct. 30, 2000
  27. "Alumni Center Details url=".

Further reading

  • Freed, John, "The Founding of Illinois State Normal University: Normal School or State University?," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 101 (Summer 2008), 106–26.
  • Freed, John B. Educating Illinois: Illinois State University, 1857–2007. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Company Publishers, 2009.

External links

Portal icon Illinois portal
Portal icon University portal

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