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Illinois State University is a public university in Normalmarker, Illinoismarker, United Statesmarker. Most commonly referred to as ISU, the school was founded in 1857 by Jesse W. Fell (1808-1887); Abraham Lincoln drew up the legal documents to establish the university. The original name of the school was Illinois State Normal University, reflective of its primary mission to serve as a school for the training of teachers (a "Normal School" is an old term for a school for training teachers). In 1864, as the institution began expanding and moving toward a full liberal arts curriculum, its name was changed, first to Illinois State University at Normal, and then by 1968 to Illinois State University.

ISU is recognized by the US News rankings as a "National University", that is, a university which grants a variety of doctoral degrees and strongly emphasizes research. US News ranks ISU in the "third tier", meaning that it is currently in the third quartile of schools within the National University category. Among public universities in Illinois awarding doctorate degrees, only the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignmarker ranks higher. It is also ranked as the 93rd best university in the U.S. by the Washington Monthly

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 is also home to one of the world's tallest residence hall Watterson Towers, which houses 2,200 students. The building, which consists of a pair of towers, was completed in 1967.

The school's Alma Mater song is "Glory Hast Thou," written to the tune of Haydn's "Austrian Hymn," better known as the tune used for "Das Lied der Deutschen," the German national anthem.

The Town of Normal, originally named North Bloomington, took its name from the school. It is located in McLean Countymarker, in central Illinois.

Illinois State University quadrangle, Felmley Hall of Science
Illinois State University, Performing Arts Center
Illinois State University, Fell Hall

A Teaching School

ISU is recognized as one of the top ten largest producers of teachers in the US according to the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education [26557].

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 its author, Geoffrey Chaucer. By the 1960s, the motto was spelled in the modern style, "and gladly would he learn and gladly teach." Despite the apparently gender-specific "he" in this motto, until the 1970s there were significantly more women than men attending the university. The motto has since been updated to 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, the largest department at ISU , is unique in its interdisciplinary focus named "English Studies," which includes various literature in English, writing/composition theories, cultural studies, K-12 English education, linguistics, TESOL, and so forth. The Department is also leading the field of children's literature in the United States. ISU's History Education program,[26558] housed in the History Department, is frequently cited as one of the leaders in that field. 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 . ISU also has a respected nursing school, the Mennonite College Of Nursing, and its Speech Pathology and Audiology programs and Special Education programs are strong. The current president of Illinois State University, Doctor Clarence Alvin Bowman, Ph.D., 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 some of the future therapists in providing services to schoolchildren at the graduate and postgraduate level.

Illinois State University also boasts one of the largest student spirit organizations in the United States. Known on Campus as RED ALERT. The 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 since grown exponentially.

ISU is also home of the Gamma Phi Circus, the oldest collegiate circus in the world The Gamma Phi Circus, founded in 1929, is one of 2 collegiate circuses in the US, the other is run by Florida State Universitymarker.

The university owns public radio station WGLT ("News, Blues and All That Jazz"), which broadcasts on 89.1 in Normal, 103.5 in Peoriamarker, and by streaming audio from The call letters are from keywords of the school's motto: "Gladly-Learn-Teach".

TV-10, a part of the School of Communication, provides the only live local television newscast produced entirely in Bloomington-Normal.

The school publishes two newspapers - The Daily Vidette and The Indy, an alternative, weekly publication.

ISU has its own student radio station, WZND. It is operated in dual format: Rock and Jamz. The station broadcasts on two channels in the residence halls and on the web from

The visual art education program has been a thriving presence in the related professional field. The National Art Education Association (NAEA) Student Chapter was the recipient of the national award for Outstanding Student Chapter in 2002. The chapter received the award again in 2003 and 2007—the only school to receive 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 program has an extremely high job placement percentage.


As of the fall of 2008, total enrollment at Illinois State University was reported as 20,104, with 17,655 undergraduate students and 2,449 graduate students. The division of gender was 58% female to 42% male, and 93% of all undergraduates were between the ages of 17 and 24 years old. Eleven 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.

The Quad

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 dissemination of campus information including notifications of events or meetings that are taking place around campus. In the beginning of the fall semester the Quad is host to Festival ISU, where campus organizations set up tables with games, prizes, and information about themselves to network their organizations.

Many activities take place on the quad as well, such as movies and concerts. Lined with benches and shady trees, the site is also a popular spots for students to relax, study and play informal games of football, soccer, and capture the flag, among others.

Milner Library

The 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 imaterials related to educational pedagogical 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. 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 is also a selective federal depository for government information, administers the Illinois State University Archives which hosts an Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at its off-site location.

Additional 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 1960, 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.

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 Aitkin, Illinois State Normal University mathematics professor from 1909-1940 and June Rose Colby, English professor from 1892-1932.

Haynie, Wilkins, and Wright Hall are located in West Campus, adjacent to Redbird Arena and Hancock Stadium. Also known as the The Tri Towers they feature floors for ROTC, Service and Leadership for freshman, Business, Social Justice, 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 1850’s and Simeon Wright, one of the University’s founders.

Hewett and Manchester Hall are located in East Campus. Both are coed and 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. Built in 1966, they were named for Edwin C. Hewett, the third University president and Orson L. Manchester, Illinois State Normal University dean from 1911-1928.

Watterson Towers located in East campus features areas for Wellness, Quiet, Substance-Free, and Restricted Visitation. The facility is the largest residence hall on campus and one of the tallest student residence halls in the world, providing the highest vantage point in Illinois between Chicago and St. Louis. The facility is divided into suites that share common bathrooms and further divided into "houses," comprising five floors each and named after former U.S. Secretaries of State. Built between 1968-1970 the facility named for Arthur W. Watterson, a geography faculty member and chair. The residence hall is not going under construction in the food court. Within a year the rest of the building will undergo renovations as well starting with the top houses and working their way down.

Three major residence halls, Dunn, Barton and Walker Hall were demolished in 2008 to provide space for a Student Fitness, Kinesiology and Recreation Center set to open in Fall 2010.

Greek life at Illinois State University

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 available on campus.

Greek Organizations On-Campus Include:

Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Gamma Rho, Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Psi Lambda, Alpha Tau Omega, Ceres, Chi Omega, Gamma Phi Beta, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Zeta, Delta Omicron, Delta Sigma Phi, Delta Sigma Pi, Delta Sigma Theta, Delta Tau Delta, Delta Chi, Delta Phi Lambda, Zeta Tau Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, Farmhouse, Lambda Chi Alpha, Pi Beta Phi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Sigma Alpha Iota, Sigma Lambda Beta, Phi Mu Alpha, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Sigma Tau Gamma, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Tau Beta Sigma, Phi Beta Sigma, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Sigma Sigma, Pi Sigma Epsilon, Iota Phi Theta.

Nationally ranked teams

The university's School of Communication has one of the most successful forensics individual events teams in the country. In 1995, 1999, and 2000 it won the National Forensic Association team championship and in 2005 its team won the American Forensic Association team championship.

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.


Notable alumni


Kaufman football building
Scoreboard and water tower




  • Paul Flessner - Senior VP of Microsoft
  • Patti S. Hart - Former Chairman/President/CEO of Pinnacle Systems Inc.
  • Christopher B. Reidy-C.O.O/General Scientific Corp.


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


  1. America's Best Colleges 2008: Illinois State University: At a glance
  2. See, for example, William Weber, "The Growth of Collaboration in History Education: Current Practices," Perspectives (September 1999); [1].
  3. []
  4. Illinois State University "Quick Facts"
  5. Wattersons Believe it or not... - Features
  6. Bloomington-Normal Community - Illinois State University
  7. NFA National Tournament: Team and Individual Champs 1990-1999
  8. Afa-Niet National Champions
  9. " Sports: Notable Alumni." Illinois State University. Retrieved on February 20, 2009.
  10. " Arts and Entertainment: Notable Alumni." Illinois State University. Retrieved on February 20, 2009.
  11. " Government and Public Service: Notable Alumni." Illinois State University. Retrieved on February 20, 2009.
  12. " Business: Notable Alumni." Illinois State University. Retrieved on February 20, 2009.
  13. " Education: Notable Alumni." Illinois State University. Retrieved on February 20, 2009.

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