Illinois State University

Illinois State University
Illinois State University Logo.svg
Official Logo of Illinois State University
Motto Gladly we Learn and Teach
Established 1857
Type Public
Endowment $60.6 million[1]
President Alvin Bowman
Provost Sheri Noren Everts
Admin. staff 3,481
Students 20,857
Undergraduates 18,344
Postgraduates 2,512
Location Normal, Illinois, USA


61 Buildings,
350 acres (141.6 ha)
Colors Red and White
Sports NCAA Division I-FCS
Nickname Redbirds
Mascot Reggie Redbird

Illinois State University (ISU), founded in 1857, is the oldest public university in Illinois; 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; it 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.



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[4][5] 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. It had previously been the site of Lincoln's "lost speech". The school moved to its current campus in 1860 in what was then the village of North Bloomington, which was chartered as "Normal" in 1865.

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.[6]

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.

The English Department focuses on an interdisciplinary approach named "English Studies", which includes various literature in English, writing/composition theories, cultural studies, K-12 English education, linguistics, TESOL.

In December 2009, The Society of Actuaries named Illinois State University one of the Centers of Actuarial Excellence in North America for its Actuarial Science program.

ISU's History Education program, housed in the History Department, has been cited as one of the leaders in that field.[7] Premised on the philosophy that future history teachers should learn their craft from historians, immersing themselves not just in content knowledge but in historical method too, the History Education program has served as a model for similar programs at other universities.

The visual art education program has been a thriving presence in the related professional field. The National Art Education Association (NAEA) Student Chapter received the national award for Outstanding Student Chapter in 2002 and again in 2003 and 2007—the only school to have received this award multiple times. Many students have held the national position of NAEA Student Chapter President, as well as faculty holding national board positions.

The ISU School of Music's Wind Symphony has released ten albums with Albany Records.[8] The College of Education delivers programs in several departments and units, including Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education, Educational Administration and Foundations; coordination of the Council for Teacher Education; and dissemination of research. The College is also one of 85 in the nation that maintains laboratory schools; the Thomas Metcalf and University High schools serve as sites for clinical training and include pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education for approximately 1,000 students in the community.[9]

ISU also houses the Mennonite College Of Nursing, as well as a Speech Pathology and Audiology program and a Special Education program.[10] The current president of Illinois State University, Clarence Alvin Bowman, PhD, is the former chairman and head of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department. It operates the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic and a program that works with Metcalf Laboratory School and other area schools to train future therapists in providing services to schoolchildren at the graduate and postgraduate level.

The Special Education Assistive Technology Center (SEAT Center) at ISU produces the Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits Journal (ATOB) in collaboration with the Assistive Technology Industry Association. ATOB is a peer-reviewed annual publication, first published in 2004. It publishes articles related to the outcomes and benefits of assistive technology for persons with disabilities across the lifespan. ISU's Department of Politics and Government publishes a journal called Critique.


ISU was ranked 156th in the 2011 US News ratings.[11] Among public universities in Illinois, only two schools, both from the University of Illinois system, ranked higher.[12] ISU was ranked the 95th best public in-state university value and 60th public out-of-state value by Kiplinger's Personal Finance in the January 2011 issue. ISU is also ranked as the 216th best national university in the US by the Washington Monthly,[13] and as the 83rd best public university in the national universities category by US News & World Reports.[14]


As of the fall of 2011, total enrollment at Illinois State University was reported as 20,762, with 18,254 undergraduate students and 2,508 graduate students. The division of gender was 57% female to 43% male, and 93% of all undergraduates were between the ages of 17 and 24. Thirteen percent of all students were from minority groups, including 1,073 African-Americans, 391 Asians or Pacific Islanders, 677 Hispanics, 66 Native Americans or Alaskans, and 429 international students from 65 countries. The middle 50% of enrolled students in 2008 earned ACT scores between 22 and 26.[15]

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.[16]

Milner Library

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 fully staffed 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.

Hamilton and Whitten Hall in South Campus features 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. As of Fall 2011, both Hamilton and Whitten hall are scheduled to be decommissioned following the summer session of 2012.

Hamilton-Whitten Residence Hall and Feeny Dining Center

Atkin and Colby Hall, also located in South Campus, includes floors for Foreign Language, History, Political Science, and Honors House. Both Atkin and Colby Halls were built as female-only dorms in 1962 but are now 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. As of Fall 2011, both Atkin and Colby are scheduled for decommission following the Summer 2012 semester. While the future remains unknown for the land they stand on, Atkin and Colby hall will remain in use for the 2011/2012 school year as well as the welcoming place for incoming preview students in summer of 2012.

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

Hewett and Manchester Hall are located in East Campus. Both are coed, though until recently Hewett was all-female. Each have floors for Art, Business, Communication, Co-Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction, Geo-Environmental, Information Technology, Math, Music, Service and Leadership, Substance-Free, Quiet, and International House. These dorms were recently renovated in 2008–09. 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.

Manchester Hall and the Vrooman Center

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.[17][18] 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. The food court has finished undergoing renovations which was completed in time for the Fall semester of 2010. At the end of the Spring 2010 semester, the residence hall portion of the building also began renovations, starting with the top houses working their way down, with an expected completion date of Fall 2012.

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

The "New" Cardinal Court

Following the decommissioning of Hamilton-Whitten and Atkin Colby halls, University Housing Services has erected new residence halls over what used to be the Cardinal Court Apartments. These new living areas will feature apartment style living for upperclassmen and bring in a new chapter for students living at Illinois State University.

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.[19]

ISU is also the home of the Gamma Phi Circus, the oldest collegiate circus in the world, founded in 1929.[20] 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, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Pi Kappa Alpha, Phi Kappa Psi, Gamma Iota Sigma, Sigma Chi

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, Delta Phi Lambda, 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, Zeta Tau Alpha, Sigma Gamma Rho, Ceres, Pi Beta Phi

Social/Cultural: Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Sigma Theta

Service: Epsilon Sigma Alpha

Music: Tau Beta Sigma, Sigma Alpha Iota, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia

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,[21] and 2000 it won the National Forensic Association team championship and in 2005 its team won the American Forensic Association team championship.[22] Illinois State has been selected as the host of the 2011 NFA National Championship. Famous alumni include Nelsan Ellis of HBO's True Blood.[23]

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.[24]

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 Unversity 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 V. 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. 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.[25][26][27][28][29] Williams Hall itself was featured in the 1980's film Ghostbusters.

Notable alumni and faculty

See List of notable Illinois State University alumni

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.[30]

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 – present)

Points of interest

The historic Eyestone School with Redbird Arena in the background.


Illinois State University quadrangle, Felmley Hall of Science
College of Business Building, Watterson Towers at sunset
Illinois State University, Fell Hall
Illinois State University, Moulton Hall
  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  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. ^ Inaugural Meeting of the Board of Regents, Illinois State University, April 1967.
  5. ^ Illinois State University. "A Concise History of the University." Accessed April 9, 2011.
  6. ^ Illinois State University. "A Concise History of the University." Accessed March 21, 2011.
  7. ^ See, for example, William Weber, "The Growth of Collaboration in History Education: Current Practices," Perspectives (September 1999); [1].
  8. ^ Illinois State University. "Concert Ensembles."
  9. ^ "About the College of Education, Illinois State University". Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  10. ^ /
  11. ^ "National University Rankings | Top National Universities | US News Best Colleges". Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  12. ^ "America's Best Colleges 2008: Illinois State University: At a glance". Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Washington Monthly. (2010). National Rankings". Retrieved June 3, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Top Public Schools | Rankings | Top National Universities | US News". Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Illinois State University "Quick Facts"". Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Fell Arboretum – Illinois State University". May 14, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  17. ^ Wattersons Believe it or not... – Features
  18. ^ Bloomington-Normal Community – Illinois State University[dead link]
  19. ^ []
  20. ^ "Illinois State University Circus". Retrieved October 25, 2008. 
  21. ^ "NFA National Tournament: Team and Individual Champs 1990–1999". Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Afa-Niet National Champions". Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  23. ^ "1999 NFA Interpretation Elim Rounds". Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Home – Illinois State Club Baseball". Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Western Illinois University at the Legends and Lore of Illinois". 
  26. ^ Angie Milner: The Woman, the Librarian, the Ghost." The Vidette Oct. 27, 2004
  27. ^ Favorite Haunt; National Cable Show to Tell ISU Ghost Story." The Pantagraph Oct. 22, 2004
  28. ^ Library's Founder said to Haunt Stacks." The Pantagraph Oct. 30, 2000
  29. ^ Milner Played Great Role in Developing ISU Library." The Pantagraph Oct. 30, 2000
  30. ^ "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

Coordinates: 40°30′39″N 88°59′36″W / 40.51076°N 88.99346°W / 40.51076; -88.99346

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