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The Indiana Daily Student

campus student life

Ten firsts in IU’s history


Pamela Whitten was inaugurated as IU’s 19th and first female president on Nov. 4, 2021, but there have been plenty of firsts in the university’s history spanning over two centuries. Here is a look back at 10 of them. 

First days 

IU was first founded as State Seminary in 1820. The original campus was located by South College Avenue and Second Street, known as Seminary Square. Classes began in 1825 with 10 male students. 

First president 

State Seminary was renamed Indiana College in 1828. Andrew Wylie was inaugurated as the college’s first president on Oct. 29, 1829. The student body grew, and the college was renamed Indiana University under Wylie’s leadership. 

First graduating class 

IU’s first graduating class included four students: James Wilson Dunn, Michael Hummer, James Rollins and William Hamilton Stockwell. They graduated in 1830. 

First female graduate 

Sarah Park Morrison was the first female to graduate from IU with a bachelor’s of arts degree in 1869 and earned her master’s of arts degree three years later. 

First African American graduate 

Marcellus Neal became IU’s first African American graduate, earning a bachelor’s of arts degree in mathematics in 1895, despite not being allowed to live on campus. He served as a teacher in Dallas, Texas, for 25 years. 

First performance of “Indiana, Our Indiana” 

IU’s fight song, “Indiana, Our Indiana” was first performed at an IU versus Northwestern University football game in 1912. It was written by IU band director Russell Harker. 

First men’s basketball national championship 

IU men’s basketball team won its first of five national championships in 1940. Coached by Branch McCracken, IU defeated the University of Kansas 60-42. 

First Little 500 

Then-IU President Howdy Wilcox noticed an informal bicycle race around dorms in 1950. Wilcox, whose father won the Indianapolis 500 in 1919, decided to hold the first Little 500 a year later to raise scholarship money for students. 

First IU Dance Marathon 

Jill Stewart started the IU Dance Marathon in 1991 to honor her friend, Ryan White, who passed away from an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome after receiving a bad blood transfusion. The organization holds a 36-hour event each fall and raises money for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. 

First IU Day 

The first IU Day was held on April 12, 2016, to honor the university and those associated with it. Festivities include wearing IU gear, using #IUDay on social media and donating to the university. 

This article is part of the Source Visitor’s Guide, an IDS special publication.

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