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History of LSU

Etching of Louisiana SeminaryLouisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College had its origin in certain land grants made by the United States government in 1806, 1811, and 1827 for use as a seminary of learning. In 1853, the Louisiana General Assembly established the Seminary of Learning of the State of Louisiana near Pineville, Louisiana. The institution opened January 2, 1860, with Col. William Tecumseh Sherman as superintendent. The school closed June 30, 1861, because of the Civil War. It reopened on April 1, but was again closed on April 23, 1863, due to the invasion of the Red River Valley by the federal army.

The seminary reopened October 2, 1865, only to be burned October 15, 1869. On November 1, 1869, the institution resumed its exercises in Baton Rouge, where it has since remained. In 1870, the name of the institution was changed to Louisiana State University.

Louisiana State Agricultural & Mechanical College was established by an act of the legislature, approved April 7, 1874, to carry out the United States Morrill Act of 1862, granting lands for this purpose. It temporarily opened in New Orleans, June 1, 1874, where it remained until it merged with Louisiana State University in 1877.

Significant Dates

1853
Louisiana General Assembly passes legislation for state institution of higher education, creating the Seminary of Learning of the State of Louisiana (l'Universite' de l'Etat de la Louisiane).

1859
(November) The institution's main building is completed near Pineville, Louisiana. Col. W.T. Sherman accepts position as superintendent.

1860
(January 2) Seminary opens with five professors and 19 cadets (total would eventually be 73).
(March) Name changed to Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy (le Lycee Scientifique et Militaire de l'Etat de la Louisiane).
General Assembly agreed to support as many as 150 cadets with scholarships for boarding expenses. These cadets were referred to as "beneficiary" cadets.

1861
(January) State militia takes control of the federal garrison known as the Baton Rouge Arsenal. Only later would Louisiana officially secede from the Union. Col. Sherman resigns.
(April) Student and faculty begin resigning in order to enlist in the Confederate cause.
(June 31) Seminary closes.

1862
(April 1) Seminary reopens under the Rev. W.E.M. Linfield as acting superintendent.

1863
(April 1) Prof. William A. Seay becomes superintendent.
(April 23) Seminary closes after invasion of Red River Valley by federal forces under Gen. Banks. Military equipment donated to the Confederate Army, but library and other items destroyed by order of Gen. T. Kilby Smith of the U.S. Army. Structure saved thanks to Gen. W.T. Sherman.

1865
(April) The Civil War ends.
(October 2) Seminary reopens and David F. Boyd is superintendent.

1869
(October 15) Pineville campus building burns.
(November 1) Classes resume in Baton Rouge at Institute for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind.

1870
(March) Seminary changes official title to The Louisiana State University (l'Universite' de l'Etat de la Louisiane).

1872
The Reveille is first published but has no regular schedule.

1873
Last class to graduate until after Reconstruction. Five classes had graduated up to this point.
Supervisors passed an executive motion to place "beneficiary" cadets on "indefinite leave" when the state failed to appropriate funds for their scholarships. Enrollment after dismissal: 45. Only three professors remain.

1874
Louisiana State Agricultural & Mechanical College is opened and domiciled at the University of Louisiana (New Orleans) while waiting to occupy the Chalmette campus.

1875
Title change of A&M college to Louisiana A&M College. The institution is racially integrated at the Chalmette campus.

1876
Acts 103 and 145 of 1876 combine LSU and Louisiana A&M College.

1877
Reconstruction ends.
(June) Merger of LSU and Louisiana A&M College prompts the final title change to Louisiana State University and A&M College. LSU becomes a land-grant institution.
(October 5) Classes resume.
Title of superintendent changes to president.

1878
City of Baton Rouge offers land for dairy farm (Perkins Road).

1880
David F. Boyd resigns. Gov. Wiltz appoints a new faculty and Col. William Preston Johnson appointed president.

1882
LSU confers bachelor degrees for the first time since 1874.

1883
Col. Johnson resigns and James W. Nicholson is appointed president.

1884
J. Nicholson returns to teaching and resigns position. David F. Boyd returns from Alabama A&M and assumes presidency.
W.C. Stubbs hired from Alabama A&M to begin experimental sugar station (Kenner).

1886
LSU moves from quarters at the Institute for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind to the federal garrison grounds (now the site of the state capitol).
(September) Department of the Interior transfers title of Baton Rouge Arsenal to the state.
D.F. Boyd conducts repairs on new campus without reimbursement from the Board of Supervisors and resigns to teach. LSU moves to new campus.
Thomas D. Boyd is named interim president and withdraws his name so that David may be rehired.
" Beneficiary" cadet program reinstated.

1887
James W. Nicholson renamed president.

1888
The Boyd brothers depart: Thomas to the State Normal School (Natchitoches); David resigns.

1893
LSU plays first football game, a 34-0 loss to Tulane.

1896
James W. Nicholson resigns. Thomas D. Boyd returns as president. LSU adopts the tiger as the official mascot.

1897
Audubon Sugar School transferred to LSU, requiring two years of study in Baton Rouge and two years of work in New Orleans.
(January 14) First issue of the new, permanent Reveille printed.

1899
David F. Boyd dies.

1900
First edition of The Gumbo (the University yearbook) published.

1902
LSU gets title to the Pentagon Barracks and campus for educational use only.

1904
Olivia Davis transfers to LSU to become its first female student, she graduates in 1905.

1906
First women (17) enroll as freshmen, among them Annie Boyd, Thomas D.Boyd's daughter.
Law school opens.

1908
Formation of the Colleges of Agriculture, Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Education.

1909
Graduate department opens.

1916
National Defense Act passes requiring military training. LSU issues the olive drab uniform in November (uniforms would soon change to West Point gray).

1917
US enters World War I.
Prof. James W. Nicholson dies.

1918
Nine LSU friends (including Deans Atkinson and Dodson) purchase Gartness Plantation.
Dances at LSU banned.
(November 11) Armistice signed and Central Powers concede defeat.

1919
Thomas D.. Boyd elected president of Association of State Universities.

1921
Thomas D.. Boyd elected president of Association of Land Grant Colleges.

1922
Board of Supervisors choose Olmsted Brothers' campus plan, but later (c. 1923) accept Theodore Link's plan. Construction of present buildings begins.

1923
(November 1) Thomas D. Boyd offers resignation at age 70, but the death of Link prevents Boyd from leaving. Wogan & Bernard finish the late Theodore Link's plan.

1924
LSU receives first live mascot named "Little-Eat-'Em-Up" as a gift from an alumnus in South America. The tiger was a black bobtailed tiger. He was quickly deposed after the football season for "failure to act."
(Thanksgiving Day) Tulane vs. LSU was first game on new campus at the temporarily named Tiger Stadium, a name it still retains. LSU lost.
Division of Continuing Education opens.

1925
(September 23) Students enroll on the new (present) campus (1,712 students). Dances allowed again.

1926
(April 30) Present campus is dedicated.
(June) Thomas D. Boyd offers resignation.

1927
Campbell Hodges chosen as president, but Dean Thomas W. Atkinson retained pro term status.

1928
LSU receives Class A accreditation by the Association of American Universities.
Huey Long elected governor.
College of Business Administration is formed.

1929
(June) Board of Supervisors terminates Gen. C. Hodges for failure to appear. Atkinson is appointed president.

1930
Student body adopts alma mater still in use today.
(June 1) Whangdoodle published, openly criticizes faculty. Pres. Atkinson expels editor K.K. Kennedy one week shy of graduation from law school.
Gov. Long begins interfering in LSU affairs. Gov. Long increases band from 28 to 125 pieces.
(November 5) Atkinson resigns due to failing health.
(November 17) Board meeting held at the Executive Mansion votes James Monroe Smith from SLI (Lafayette) into presidency.

1931
LSU School of Medicine (New Orleans) opens down the street from Tulane Medical School.
Establishment of Graduate School of Library Science, College of Chemistry & Physics, and School of Music.

1932
Thomas D. Boyd dies and is buried at Magnolia Cemetery.
The move to the new campus is finally complete.

1933
Junior Division (the underclassman college) opens.

1934
The Northeast Center established in Monroe. It is the first branch school of LSU.
(December) The Reveille Seven expelled for exposing Sen. Long's censorship of the paper at "his" school.

1935
LSU Press founded.
Graduate School created (replaces Graduate department)
(July) The Southern Review first published.
(September 8) US Sen. Huey Long is shot by Dr. Weiss and subsequently dies on September 10.

1936
Mike I (formerly known as Sheik) arrives by rail from the Little Rock Zoo. Students block-off campus; classes canceled.

1937
School of Social Welfare opens.

1939
President Smith resigns due to scandal.
(June 27) Paul Hebert assumes interim presidency.
Lake Charles Junior College opens under LSU direction (name changes in 1940 to John McNeese Junior College) with Dean Joe Farrar as head.

1941
Gen. Campbell Hodges named president, again, and appears for service.
US enters World War II.

1943
LSU Band invites first coed member.

1944
Gen. Campbell Hodges resigns. William B. Hatcher assumes presidency.

1945
World War II ends and GIs return to take advantage of Montgomery GI Bill of Rights.

1947
Pres. Hatcher dies, Fred C. Frey acts in presidential capacity until Dr. Harold W. Stoke is finally appointed president.
Former Prof. Robert Penn Warren wins Pulitzer Prize for his novel, All the King's Men.

1948
(September) Francis T. Nicholls Junior College opens in Thibodaux under Dean Charles Elkins.

1950
McNeese Junior College gains autonomy as a four-year institution.
LSU Board of Education enrolls black students into graduate program.

1951
Dr. Stoke steps down and Gen. Troy H. Middleton is appointed president. University College is formed.

1953
A.P. Tureaud, Jr., LSU's first black undergraduate student, was admitted under court order to the 3-2 undergraduate pre-law and law degree program, which was unique to LSU. He transfers before the end of the fall term.

1954
Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, strikes down racial segregation in public schools.

1956
Legislature approves LSU branch in New Orleans.
(June 29) Mike I dies. Mike II ascends to the throne after February birth in New Orleans Zoo.
Nichols State separates from LSU.

1957
(November) LSU leases vacated Naval Air Station (New Orleans) from Orleans Parish Levee Board.

1958
(February 1) Board of Supervisors approve the official seal of a mother pelican with three young.
(May) Mike II dies of pneumonia. Mike III, from Seattle Zoo, ascends to the throne.
(September) Classes begin at LSU-New Orleans under Dean Homer Hitt.

1960
LSU-Alexandria opens on land deeded in 1945.

1962
Gen. Middleton resigns and John A. Hunter is named president.

1964
(June) Six black students enroll in undergraduate studies.

1965
(February 6) By act of Legislature, LSU System established, Hunter becomes president of the LSU System.
Cecil Grady Taylor becomes first chancellor of LSU (main campus in Baton Rouge). School of Environmental Design is formed.

1966
The Sea Grant Program is passed by the US Congress.

1967
LSU-Eunice opens under Dean Anthony Mumphrey.
LSU-Shreveport opens under Dean Donald Shipp.

1968
School of Veterinary Medicine opens.

1969
LSU School of Medicine (Shreveport) opens.

1970
Graduate School of Education opens.
Professor T. Harry Williams wins the Pulitzer Prize for his biography Huey Long.

1972
John Hunter resigns as president of the LSU System and Martin Woodin accepts presidency.
Center for Agricultural Sciences & Rural Development established.

1974
Chancellor Taylor resigns and Paul W. Murrill becomes chancellor.
New state constitution officially creates the LSU System.

1976
(August 12) Mike III dies. Mike IV (b. May 15, 1974) ascends to the LSU throne from his home in Busch Gardens of Tampa, Florida.

1977
Hebert Law Center becomes an autonomous unit in the LSU System.
First class graduates from the School of Veterinary Medicine.

1978
LSU becomes the 13th university to be named a sea-grant institution. (LSU is one of 25 universities to have land- and sea-grant status.)

1979
Law School changes name to Paul M. Hebert Law Center.

1981
(January) Chancellor Murrill resigns and Otis B. Wheeler is named acting chancellor.
(June) James H. Wharton becomes chancellor.
John Kennedy Toole posthumously wins the Pulitzer Prize for his fictional work, A Confederacy of Dunces. (The book was published by LSU Press in April 1980.)

1982
Center for Agricultural Sciences & Rural Development changes title to LSU Agricultural Center.

1985
(March 16) Allen A. Copping becomes third president of the LSU System.

1987
LSU is ranked a Research I institute by the Carnegie Foundation.

1988
Chancellor Wharton resigns.
(Jan. 4) LSU-Shreveport Chancellor E. Grady Bogue becomes interim chancellor of LSU-Baton Rouge.

1989
(July) Williams E. "Bud" Davis becomes chancellor.

1990
(April) Mike IV retires for health reasons to the Baton Rouge Zoo. Mike V (b. Oct. 18, 1989) ascends to throne April 30.

1995
(March 3) Mike IV is put to eternal rest after 20 years and 9 months, of which he reigned as LSU mascot for 14 years.

1996
(November 1) Chancellor William E. Davis resigns chancellorship.
(November 9) William L. Jenkins appointed the sixth LSU chancellor.

1998
LSU receives 114th patent.

1999
William L. Jenkins resigns as LSU chancellor and is appointed president of LSU System.
(April 16) Mark Emmert is appointed chancellor of LSU.

2000
The LSU's baseball team and women's track and field team each captured a national title. The women's track team earned its 12th national championship and the baseball team won its fifth championship title.
(April 2000-April 2001) LSU's Diamond Jubilee, commemorating 75 years on the current Baton Rouge campus.

2004
(January) LSU Football Team wins 2004 Nokia Sugar Bowl and captures the 2003 BCS National Title.
(June) Mark Emmert resigns as LSU chancellor. William L. Jenkins appointed interim chancellor.

2005
(February 21) Honorable Sean O'Keefe becomes chancellor of LSU.
(August 26) New habitat for Mike V is officially opened and Mike moves into his new home.

2007
(May 18) Mike V dies.
(September 1) Mike VI introduced to campus.

2008
(January) Sean O'Keefe resigns as LSU chancellor. William L. Jenkins appointed acting chancellor (effective February 1).
(August) Michael V. Martin becomes chancellor of LSU.

2010
The University celebrates its Sesquicentennial Anniversary.

2012
(July) Michael V. Martin resigns as LSU chancellor. William L Jenkins appointing acting chancellor (effective August 15).

2013
William L Jenkinsretires.
F. King Alexander becomes LSU President and Chancellor.

Page last updated: December 13, 2013