Southern Illinois University

Pulliam Hall Clocktower at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Pulliam Hall Clocktower at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, photographed by Bradley Furlow

Southern Illinois University began in 1869 as Southern Illinois Normal College, the second state supported teacher training school in Illinois. After the Twenty-sixth General Assembly of Illinois approved the school on March 9, 1869, Carbondale laid the cornerstone May 17, 1870. The first session of Southern Illinois Normal University was a summer institute, with eight faculty and fifty-three students. President Robert Allyn welcomed the first class of 143 students in 1874.

When Delyte W. Morris became president in 1948, he expanded the faculty and degree offerings. Serving more than twenty years, Morris added Colleges of Law, Medicine, and Dentistry. He recruited numerous luminaries in the arts and sciences, including opera star Marjorie Lawrence, dance choreographer and anthropologist Katherine Dunham, and architect Buckminster Fuller. Southern Illinois University grew rapidly after World War II from 3,500 to over 24,800 students by 1991.

In 1957 the university purchased Shurtleff College in Alton, Illinois, which was later developed into Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The land for the Edwardsville campus was purchased in 1960 and the university held its first classes in 1965. The School of Medicine in Springfield, established in 1970, and the School of Dental Medicine in Alton, established in 1972, are also part of the SIU system.

Learn more

Lentz, Eli Gilbert. 1955. Seventy five years in retrospect, from normal school to teachers college to university, Southern Illinois University, 1874-1949. Carbondale: University Editorial Board, Southern Illinois University.