20 Facts to Celebrate the IU Bicentennial

Sample Gates with fireworks in the background

200 years of history and tradition. 200 years of research and academia. 200 years of diversity, curiosity, and the pursuit of something bigger than yourself.

January 20th, 2020 marks Indiana University’s official bicentennial anniversary. In celebration of this paramount milestone, I’ve compiled a list of moments from IU’s eventful history.

1. Before becoming Indiana University in 1838, the school was first named “State Seminary” (pictured above), and then “Indiana College” for ten years afterward.

IU graduating class of 1869

2. Andrew Wylie was hired as IU’s first president in 1829.

3. In 1867, Sarah Parke Morrison became the first female to attend Indiana University. She graduated in 1869.

4. The school’s first football team was formed in 1886, ten years before the basketball team.

5. The Marching Hundred (formerly known as the IU Band) performed “Indiana, Our Indiana” for the first time ever in 1912.

6. The School of Commerce and Finance, now known as the Kelley School of Business, was established in the same year as IU’s 100th anniversary. Its first home on campus was Rawles Hall, and it moved to Woodburn before Hodge was constructed.

President Wells at the IU Auditorium dedication, 1941

7. Herman B. Wells started his presidency in 1938 and held this position for 24 years.

8. Construction for the IU Auditorium started in 1938 and it opened in 1941.

9. Ernie Pyle, IU alumnus and World War II correspondent, won a Pulitzer Prize for his work overseas in 1944.

10. The first Little 500 took place in 1951 with 33 teams and 7,000 spectators.

11. The toothpaste now known as Crest was formulated by three IU researchers and hit shelves nationally in 1956.

12. IU alumnus James Watson was part of a trio who discovered the structure of DNA. He received a Nobel Prize for this in 1962.

Bikers in the first Little 500

13. The IU men’s swim and dive team won 20 consecutive Big Ten championships starting in 1961 and 6 national titles in a row from 1968 to 1973.

IU students at the Met Opera House in NYC

14. Both the Black (Neal-Marshall) and Latino (La Casa) Cultural Centers were established in 1973.

15. Breaking Away won the Academy Award for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ in 1979. The film revolves around a Bloomington-native Little 500 bike team called the Cutters.

16. In 1981, Students from then IU School of Music became the first university company to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

17. The Sample Gates were erected the same year the men’s basketball team won the 1987 NCAA championship.

18. Indiana University Dance Marathon started in 1991. Since then, the organization has raised well over $30 million for Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

19. In 2016, The Media School moved into Franklin Hall, which at one point was the university’s main library.

2016 IU Olympians

20. IU Olympians brought back a total of 8 medals (five gold, one silver, and two bronze) from the Rio Olympics in 2016. Overall, 104 medals have been won by Olympians affiliated with Indiana University.

From inventions to world records to everything in between, it’s clear to see that Indiana University has many accomplishments under its belt. Here’s to 200 more years!

For a more in-depth timeline of IU’s history, visit Indiana University Bloomington’s website.


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